Walker Art Center Museum is for everyone
The Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. In 1915 T.B. Walker opened 14 rooms full of art to the public. Each room had a different theme. In 1940, 75 years ago, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) along with the Federal Art Project worked with T.B. Walker and other Minneapolis citizens to create a regional art center.
In the 1940s the focus of the museum began to be modern art as it began to acquire works by important artists of the day. During the 1960s the collection grew along with programs in Performing Arts, Film and Education with each area gaining national prominence. The museum doubled in size in 2005 with an expansion designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron.
Today the museum is one of the five most visited modern art museums in the country along side the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum and the Hirshorn. In addition to the galleries there are two theaters and one of the largest urban sculpture gardens in the country across the street.
But the Walker is more than a museum, it is an art center that actively works to engage the community on many levels where people can be participants as well as spectators.
One example is illustrated on their website:
Garden Project with Audio Narrative, Ojibwe, Lakota, and Dakota Truths and Myths from the Invisible Present, Past, and Future Walker Artist Residency – Sam Durant
Visual artist Sam Durant explored Native American themes through a yearlong residency with Native students that resulted in a collaborative work installed in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden that links the history of Minnesota’s native tribes with the local history of European lumber barons.
This project CONNECTED Native youth to their cultural history and community, as well as contemporary art and artists.
The students COMMENTED on their experience and lives by creating raps, telling stories, writing poems and reading historical texts that Durant recorded to accompany Garden Project as a soundscape. For more info, visit projects.walkerart.org/durant.
I have been going to the Walker since I first visited Minnesota in the 1970’s. I enjoy wandering around the galleries and going to special exhibits but I also enjoy the films and special programs. I have seen authors read from their works and interact with the audience. And just the other day I went to see the British Arrow Awards, an annual sold out event.
One of the galleries we went into the other day had tables with turntables on them and records from the 70s in boxes on the tables. Each turntable was set up to play a record and Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was playing on one of them. It was fun to flip through the albums and remember which ones I owned.
The Walker can be amusing, disturbing or enlightening. If you are in the area, it is a must see.
Kathleen Gamble was born and raised overseas and has traveled extensively. She has a BA in Spanish and has worked in publishing, printing, desktop publishing, translating, and purchasing. She also designs and creates her own needlepoint. She started journaling at a young age and her memoir, Expat Alien, came out of those early journals. Over the years she has edited and produced an American Women’s Organization cookbook in Moscow, Russia, and several newsletters. Her first book, Expat Alien, was published in 2012 and she recently published a cookbook, 52 Food Fridays, both available on Amazon.com. You can also follow her blog at ExpatAlien.com.