Living Rooms

Why so many people claim to be Cherokee—who aren’t—and why that matters

“Rose is A Rose is A rose is A rose.” Gertrude Stein’s famous line illustrates our propensity for collapsing words and images into universal meanings, identities that need no interpretation. When we see the word “rose,” she suggests, we picture the rose in our mind’s eye. But a Cherokee rose is not just any rose. It is . . . Keep reading »

Social science: How to recreate an Enlightenment-era “science party”

About two years ago, I was conducting research at the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis when Mia curator Nicole LaBouff approached me with a question about solar microscopes. She was planning an exhibition called “Science and Sociability in 1700s England,” now open in the Queen Anne and Georgian period rooms at Mia. The Georgian Drawing Room is arranged as though for a “scientific . . . Keep reading »

Science is for lovers: Why the planet needs scientists and passionate amateurs to work together

This week, Mia unveils six newly reinterpreted period rooms as part of its Living Rooms project, a push to invigorate these beloved spaces with fresh perspectives. I was the curator charged with reinstalling Mia’s two English period rooms to consider the domestic life of science circa 250 years ago, the gilded early days of “modern” science—before it became sequestered in laboratories and siloed academic departments. A . . . Keep reading »

Anthony Marchetti traced five of our American period rooms back to their origin. Here’s what he found and what he made in response.

Mia’s period rooms may seem like time capsules, settings preserved in a museum as though their owners have simply stepped away. But in reality they are illusions, a mix of old and new, fact and fiction. As part of our Living Rooms project, Mia commissioned Anthony Marchetti, a Minneapolis-based photographer, to visit the original sites . . . Keep reading »

Once at Mia: Room for wonder

It’s hard to know what these schoolchildren—boys standing, girls on the floor—thought of the Charleston Drawing Room and the adjacent dining room, moved to Mia from one of the finest colonial mansions in Charleston, South Carolina. The period rooms opened in 1931 as a memorial from the Bell family. Judging from the setup and the clothing, this photo was . . . Keep reading »

Mystery portrait: The story behind the unfinished painting in Mia’s Jane Austen Reading Room

As part of Mia’s Living Rooms initiative, a reanimating of its period rooms, the Queen Anne space has been transformed into a Jane Austen Reading Room. There are chairs, tables, and shelves full of books by Austen and her contemporaries for visitors to sit and read, like Austen famously did in her brother’s Chawton House library. . . . Keep reading »

The scholar/superfan behind Mia’s new Jane Austen Reading Room

In real life, Gina Heath King is like many other Minnesotans, going to Vikings games, talking about the weather, and digging into her graduate studies. But when she enters the fictional world of Jane Austen, she becomes a bit more decorous. She straightens up. Her mind reaches back, and as she tries to explain why Austen’s stories . . . Keep reading »

A period room evolves: The MacFarlane Room’s 40-year odyssey

The MIA’s period rooms are tucked in the back of the museum’s third-floor galleries, spaces you can walk into and feel enveloped in a “moment in time.” But period rooms change, even after the museum first installs them. The MacFarlane Room has evolved dramatically over the past 40 years, as I came to understand while . . . Keep reading »

Mia Stories

The museum beyond the walls, outside the frame, at the lively intersection of life and art. From behind-the-scenes buzz to inspiring connections with current events, it’s the museum in conversation.

Don’t Miss: Trending Now

A special collection of Mia Stories containing our connection to a wide range of current topics including diversity, the right to creative expression, the spread of knowledge, and the need to preserve the planet and its cultural treasures for future generations.

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