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Formally established in 1927, the Walker Art Center began as the first public art gallery in the Upper Midwest. The museum's focus on modern art began in the 1940s, when a gift from Mrs. Gilbert Walker made possible the acquisition of works by important artists of the day, including sculptures by Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, Alberto Giacometti, and others. During the 1960s, the Walker organized increasingly ambitious exhibitions that circulated to museums in the United States and abroad. The permanent collection expanded to reflect crucial examples of contemporary artistic developments; concurrently, performing arts, film, and education programs grew proportionately and gained their own national prominence throughout the next three decades. Today, the Walker is recognized internationally as a singular model of a multidisciplinary arts organization and as a national leader for its innovative approaches to audience engagement.
Adjacent to the Walker is the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, one of the nation's largest urban sculpture parks. When the Garden opened in 1988, it was immediately heralded by the New York Times as "the finest new outdoor space in the country for displaying sculpture." The Garden's centerpiece and most popular work is Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen's Spoonbridge and Cherry (1985-1988), which has become a beloved symbol of the Twin Cities. The Garden has demonstrated extraordinary appeal in the community, and is a vital force for bringing new visitors inside the Walker and building new audiences for contemporary art. More than 15,000 people attended the Walker's Rock the Garden concert and 15th-Anniversary celebration in June 2003.
The Minnesota Historical Society is a private, non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849 to preserve and share Minnesota history. The Society collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota's past through interactive and engaging museum exhibits, extensive libraries and collections, 25 historic sites, educational programs and book publishing.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts was established in 1883. The museum building, designed by the firm of McKim, Mead and White, opened its doors in 1915. In 1974 the Japanese architect Kenzo Tange was commissioned to design needed additions to the neoclassical structure. In the 1990s, with funds from the New Beginnings Campaign, the museum was renovated, the collections reinstalled, and state of the art technology introduced to help visitors and members interpret the works of art.
The American Swedish Institute, founded in 1929 by Swan J. Turnblad, is a historic house/museum offering a variety of programs designed to celebrate Swedish culture. The Turnblad mansion, which houses the Institute, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the only "castle" in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul metropolitan area.
The museum, located within the historic Turnblad mansion, showcases the Institute's collection of Swedish glass, decorative and fine arts, textiles, and items from Sweden. The permanent exhibit "Swedish Life in the Twin Cities" explores the local Swedish-American community through photographs, diaries, vintage recordings and immigrant artifacts.
On November 5, 1903 only three weeks before the Wright brothers made the first airplane flight the Minnesota Orchestra performed its inaugural concert. Founded as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, it changed its name to the Minnesota Orchestra in 1968. Under either name, it has been an enterprising musical organization, earning distinction through eminent musical leadership, artistic innovation and widespread community support.