Though my heart remains buried in the mountains of the Wild West, my family has always been Midwestern. Though all of us are from Chicago itself originally, we’ve scattered a bit over time to various other parts of the midwest, from Missouri and Wisconsin to, more recently, Minnesota. I didn’t know much about the city or any of its culture beyond Mall of America until just the past few years, and what I’ve come to find out is that Minneapolis, though tough in winter, is an absolute gem, with great food, great comedy and a fantastic community of nerds. Just my kind of place. It also has some absolutely amazing museums, including the Minneapolis Institute of Art, which frankly, is its own masterpiece.
Mia, as it’s affectionately known, is great at a lot of things. For starters, it’s enormous. The Minneapolis Institute of Art is akin to our own Art Institute that way, and if you’d really like to see it all, you’ll need to reserve at least a full day. I visit Mia every time I head out for family visits, and for as much as I’ve explored, there always seems to be corners I haven’t wandered into.
Mia is also spectacular in its diversity. From ancient suits of armor and beautiful jades straight through to Picasso, Nick Cave, Yoshitomo and Lichtenstein, you’ll never find a style unrepresented. Pre Modern wing, I think this was something that wasn’t as prominent at our own institute, and it’s still something that stands out to me, especially when examining the layout of the place. It felt so easy to go from Monet’s haystacks to the incredible show-stopper that is Some/One by Do Ho Suh.
And if you’re on a budget, you’re in luck. While museum days in Chicago can get quite pricey, Mia’s model is donation only. Suggested donation is only 7 dollars, and anyone at any dollar range can become a member of the museum. This is an indescribable value, especially considering the caliber of works on display here.
Special exhibitions also shine here, including the most recent to hit Mia’s halls: Guillermo Del Toro: At Home With Monsters, which was, in fact, so good, we decided to dedicate an entire article to it. It’s been our observation in talking to staff at the museum, including Gabriel Ritter, the recently announced Curator and Head of Contemporary Art, that the museum’s passion is fueling curiosity, and they do a fantastic job of it. Spaces are well lit, expansive and clean and the layout lends itself to wandering, with comfy seating for taking in the art surrounding you, and an absolutely award-worthy shop to bring home treasures from after. Mia also boasts its own sustainable, health-focused café, Agra-Culture, if you get hungry while roaming and marvelling, and we found it the best of the bunch for museums here and elsewhere.
In our view, Mia should be listed amongst the best of the best. It’s encyclopedic, expansive, educational and enthusiastic about its goals to bring art to residents of the Twin Cities and everywhere else, and it sparkles. It’s a place I could spend hours in, whether that’s exploring native art and religious iconography or diving deep into photography and new media. It’s everything I’d want in an art museum while adding elements of the Field Museum and MCA Chicago, and if you should find yourself in the great white north, I’d say it’s imperative to make your way there to really get a taste of the best things Minnesota has to offer.
For more information on the Minneapolis Institute of Art, click this link. For tickets to see the Guillermo del Toro exhibit, click here, and for an in-depth look at the museum’s latest exhibit, stay tuned to Third Coast!