Fabulous and Free: The Minneapolis Institute of Art

For inspiring art at an unbeatable price (free!) the Minneapolis Institute of Art is the place to be.

It offers a gallery upon gallery of art from around the world in a space where the surroundings are almost as soothing and inspiring as the works on the walls.

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Everything in the museum is free except for the ticketed exhibit. The current tickets exhibit is “Delacroix’s Influence: The Rise of Modern Art from Cézanne to van Gogh.” You can purchase tickets at the front entrance or outside the ticketed exhibit itself.

It’s definitely worth springing a little for the ticketed exhibit. But if you’re on a super tight budget, don’t worry that you’re missing out. You could easily fill a day (or at least a long, leisurely afternoon, as we did) taking in the free exhibits alone.

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The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia for short, pronounced like the woman’s name) is known for a wonderful collection of Asian art, including beautiful Japanese woodblock prints, Chinese landscape paintings, statues and artifacts.

Over 170 pieces of Japanese and Korean art were donated by Saint Paul, Minnesota native Mary Griggs Burke, including ink paintings, delicate folding screens and ornate vases. Her collection is considered to the finest of its kind outside of Japan.

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I also enjoyed selections from Native American artists from the Great Lakes region and several rooms that covered American Modernism from the early 1900s through the 1960s. The vivid abstract painting, cartoony pop art, striking sculptures and photographs cover a variety of styles and chronicle so many important social changes.

Architecture buffs will love the Frank Lloyd Wright Hallway, which was lifted from a home Wright built just down the road, along the shore of Lake Minnetonka.

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The museum’s promotional materials do a nice job of detailing the exhibits in each gallery for you, but I think it was more fun to just wander and look at whatever appeals to you. There are a few places to sit and contemplate each exhibit or take a rest, which are handy if you’re physically challenged to traveling with children.

And some of them are especially inspiring, like these gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows that show off lovely views of the downtown skyline.

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The museum offers a full line-up of talks, tours and classes, including Third Thursdays (where you can explore the space and enjoy a drink and live music) and fun and free family fun days. We visited during a family fun day and it was great to see little kids and their parents gleefully playing and creating.

It’s also super accessible to folks of varying abilities. Mia is fully wheelchair and scooter accessible and offers free handicap parking. ASL interpreters and assisted listening devices are available for the hearing impaired and there are touch tours and guided tours available for those with visual challenges. There’s even a tour designed for those with early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s Disease and their families, friends and caretakers.

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If you’re in the Twin Cities over Thanksgiving weekend, I encourage you to check out a new and very cool Black Friday tradition, the 4th Annual Black Friday celebration. As I mentioned before, the regular galleries are always free, but on Friday, November 27, the ticketed exhibit will also be free from 6 a.m. until 10 a.m. Tickets are first come, first served and you can score free coffee and treats too.

And you can still do a little shopping while you’re there. There’s a pop-up shop featuring jewelry, textiles and imported foods. The museum is also featuring handmade, artisan products for the home through Mia + Etsy Chef’s Table just in time for the holidays.

And The Store at Mia is a treat. I love looking through the coffee table books, cozy woolen goods from Faribault Woolen Mills and pretty little handmade gifts. You can even buy honey made by bees in the museum’s hives. Be sure to allow a little extra time to browse at the beginning or end of your visit.

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Greg doing his best “ancestor portrait” face…

Minneapolis Institute of Art
2400 Third Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404

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