There’s big news afoot over at the Minnesota Museum of American Art (MMAA): Kristin Makholm, director of what has for three years been a ‘museum without walls,’ announced last week in a series of interviews with area media outlets that MMAA has found a brick-and-mortar home – at least for the time being.
After years of financial woes and turbulence in the museum’s leadership, the museum’s struggles culminated in 2009, with the loss of MMAA’s downtown exhibition space for its storied collection of American art. Kristin Makholm, a seasoned curator and administrator, was recruited several months later and tasked with turning the then-homeless institution’s prospects around.
With a steady string of fruitful projects to keep the MMAA in the public eye since she took the helm, it appears those efforts are paying off. The most visible of these ventures has been the touring “Our Treasures” exhibition (covered last August for Knight Arts). For the show, Makholm assembled a “greatest hits” assortment of 30 pieces drawn from the permanent collection, work representative of the big-name American art in the museum’s holdings – Romare Bearden, Robert Henri, Joan Mitchell, Christo, George Morrison, Warren Mackenzie, Ed Ruscha and others. The show was displayed by way of a series of exhibitions hosted by institutional partners around the state, a mobile standard-bearer for the museum’s renewed vision and mission.
And as of October or November, according to a flurry of reports late last week, MMAA will be homeless no more. Makholm says the museum plans take over 3700 square feet-worth of street-level galleries in the vacant Pioneer-Endicott buildings (once home to the “Pioneer Press”). Handy to both Lowertown and Downtown, just off the new Central Corridor light rail line, the new space will be easily accessible; the historic site is also slated for a $40 million redevelopment by the buildings’ new owners.
For now, though, Makholm tells the “Pioneer Press” they’re still a ways away from making a long-term arrangement: “It’s not the permanent home of the museum; we still have some building to do in terms of donors, in terms of a capital campaign that we’ll start next year.” In the meantime, the public will once again have a place to come and visit old favorites from the MMAA collection, attend “charettes” and educational programs, as well as exhibitions by local artists.
It’s happy news all around, a well-earned fresh start for this centerpiece of St. Paul’s fine art treasures.
Read recent reports about the Minnesota Museum of American Arts’ new home and plans for the near and long term in stories by the “Pioneer Press,” “Minneapolis Star-Tribune” and on Minnesota Public Radio’s “State of the Arts” blog. Keep up with the MMMA’s news, programming and exhibitions: www.mmaa.org.