museum history

Artist Andrea Carlson on the unspoken history, unseen stories, and awkward moments behind her Mia project “Let: an act of reverse incorporation”

Andrea Carlson wasn’t sure the museum would go for it. After all, as she puts it, the participants and collaborators in Let: an act of reverse incorporation are “kicking in the front door of historic institutional power.” Carlson, who grew up in Minnesota and now lives in Chicago, has long drawn on her Anishinaabe (Ojibwe), . . . Keep reading »

Once at Mia: A mummy and her secrets

Lady Tashat had roommates at first, fellow mummies, perhaps three or five altogether. They almost certainly didn’t know each other in life, but in death they were inseparable. In the late 1800s, mummies, statues, and other ancient objects were flowing out of Egyptian digs to Europe and America, to museums and millionaires. The director of the . . . Keep reading »

Once at Mia: Touching the past

The Minneapolis Society for the Blind was touring Mia in October 1951 when they stopped in front of the museum’s ancient Assyrian relief and laid hands on it. The relief, being a relief, is perfectly suited to tactile appreciation. It was carved from stone more than eight centuries BCE, one of many such panels found in . . . Keep reading »

Once at Mia: The horse they rode out on

They were sixth-grade students from the old Hawthorne School on the north side of Minneapolis, on a field trip to Mia sponsored by the Junior League, and they had every right to be surprised. It was the spring of 1956, and the field trip was called Eyes on the East—at the time, Americans certainly were . . . Keep reading »

Once at Mia: Checkmates

It’s difficult to know what the teacher, identified only as Mrs. L.C. Harris, was telling her pupils. That the chess set in Mia’s Charleston Drawing Room was made in China in the late 1700s? That it was carved from ivory, in a time before elephants were endangered? That the piece she’s holding was known as an Elephant Castle, . . . Keep reading »

Once at Mia: The Aquatennial dines with art

Lucretia may be hungry. She appears to eye the plates of food before her with something like regret, the disappointment of knowing she will soon be leaving this world without having stuck around for dessert. The guests, for their part, don’t seem to notice Lucretia at all. They are partying. And they are in the . . . Keep reading »

Once at Mia: When the Hammering Man retired

For years, the Hammering Man didn’t get a break unless he broke down. He broke down a lot, actually, given the repetitive movement of his arm and hammer—up, down, up, down, day after day, year after year. His motor often wore out, and Bill Skodje, Mia’s senior preparator and exhibition designer, would have to repair . . . Keep reading »

Once at Mia: Fooled by Chac Mool

He seems so innocent, even naive, though there is a good explanation for this. Mia acquired Chac Mool in 1947 from a respected art dealer, believing he was a masterpiece of ancient mesoamerican sculpture, in the manner of other Chac Mool sculptures found in the Chichen Itza ruins in Mexico.  He became a prominent fixture at the . . . 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: The lost world of plaster casts

A hundred years ago, they were a numerous if unusual species. Starkly beautiful, strangely familiar. Of this world and yet not completely; they seemed to inhabit a parallel universe. They were, as Mia’s first director, Joseph Breck, put it in a 1914 speech, “pale ghosts of reality.” They were everywhere in Mia in the museum’s early decades, from the . . . 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.

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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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