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Building a Museum



A Grand Vision
The 2006 expansion adds another wing to the museum. It includes over thirty new galleries, two art study rooms, a library, and a large space for parties.
  The 2006 expansion adds another wing to the museum. It includes over thirty new galleries, two art study rooms, a library, and a large space for parties.

 

The original plan for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts was ambitious. It was designed by the most famous architectural firm of the day, McKim, Mead and White. The museum was to extend the full length of the block on 24th Street. Wings along Third Avenue and Stevens Avenue would house an “orchestra hall” and an “architectural hall.” The classical style recalled grand European buildings, from the monuments of ancient Rome to the palaces of French kings.

The MIA was designed to be built in sections, as money was raised. The full project would have cost two million dollars at the time. The Society had raised $520,180 by 1911. With that money they built the central part of the art museum, about one-seventh of the whole design. They planned to add the wings for music and architecture later.

Since it opened in 1915, the museum has expanded four times, in 1926, 1974, 1998, and 2006. With the 2006 addition, it finally fills the entire block along 24th Street and extends down Stevens Avenue. It spans an area equal to seven and a half football fields. A visitor will walk almost a mile to see all the galleries.


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1. This model shows the original plan for the MIA. It was designed to be built in sections. Only one-seventh of this plan was ever built.
2. This view of the MIA from 24th Street shows three different eras of construction—the classical 1915 building on the left, the clean modern lines of the 1974 addition in the middle, and the warm echoes of both in the 2006 addition on the right.
3. Some things never change—the building’s first elevator, installed in 1930, still carries visitors from floor to floor in the original part of the museum.

 

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May 2006