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  • Minneapolis Institute of ArtsMinneapolis Institute of Arts Minneapolis, Minnesota
    The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) is a fine arts museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sitting on 8 exciting acres that was known as Morrison Park, and is now a major government-funded public museum that has no entry fee except for special exhibitions. In 1883, the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts started, to bring the arts into the lives of the city's residents; and was a group of business and professional leaders of the period. This organization began to organize art displays during that decade and in 1889, the society became known as the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, opening its first permanent home in the new constructed Minneapolis Public Library. In 1915, a new museum structure was completed and opened, built on land that had been donated by the Morrison family, that had their Villa Rosa mansion on the land before that; and the museum would soon be recognized as one of the best examples of beaux-arts style in the state. In 1971, art historian Bevis Hillier organized a wonderful exhibition of art deco art and caused a resurgence of interest in that particular type of art. When the new museum was constructed, it was supposed to have numerous sections, but only the front was finished, although some additions were constructed, with one in 1974 designed by Kenzo Tange and another by Michael Graves finished in 2006. The museum is located in the Washburn-Fair Oaks Mansion District, where the wealthier city businessmen constructed their mansion during the 1880s to the 1920s, now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  The museum contains an encyclopedic collection of over 80,000 pieces, that span 5000 year of world history that includes; decorative arts, prints and drawings, photographs, paintings, textiles and architecture. They also have collections of art from Oceania and the Americas, African art, and a magnificent Asian art collection that is considered one of the most complete and exhaustive Asian art collection in the nation. It contains Chinese ceramics, architecture, bronzes and jades. The biggest piece in the collection is the Purcell-Cutts House that is one of the most important examples of Prairie School architecture in the country, refurbishing the house where it sat, and opening it in 1990 for public viewing.

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  • American Swedish Institute
    The American Swedish Institute is an organizational and research facility and museum in the Phillips West neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota; dedicated to the preservation and study of the historical part that Sweden and the Americans of Swedish heritage have contributed to the US history and culture. Some of their programs include the Swedish language-teaching society, the Svea Club and the Turnblad Mansion Museum that showcases displays and special events. The institute is housed in the turn-of-the-century mansion constructed for Christina and Swan Turnblad who had come to this country in 1868, at the age of eight, with his parents. Swan wasn't cut out for farming, and in 1879 he moved away from Vasa and came to Minneapolis where he began his rags to riches life. Swan would work at many Swedish language newspapers as a typesetter, and his intense interest in the printing business would soon lead him to publish the Swedish language newspaper, "Svenska Amerikanska Posten", and within 10 years he had become the owner. During his management, he increased the circulation from 1400 weekly papers to more than 40,000 and became his main source of wealth. The paper's success was because of his aggressive management style, plus the wonderful support of the Swedish immigrants that also supported it. He went on to create the best technically advanced newspaper in the region by using only the best possible printing equipment available at the time. He became the first Swedish publisher in the nation to set his type using the Linotype machine and in 1903, it became the first Swedish language paper to use the duplex rotary color printing press, allowing the paper to have color illustrations.  He soon met and married Christina Nilsson, who had also come to this country with her parents, settling in Worthington, Minnesota in 1876, when she was 15. Her first position in this country didn't pay any wages, but did help her gain valuable work experience and learn the English language. She worked as a waitress for a year, and in 1882, moved to Minneapolis, where she would meet Swan at a Templar meeting. The couple were married in 1883, and had Lillian Zenobia, their sole child, a year later. During the early 1900s, they planned their luxurious estate, and having traveled to Europe many times, decided on an elegant chateau type of mansion, full of elaborate designs on the interior. In 1903, they bought some land on Park Avenue and plans drawn up for them. Bills were always paid when presented, and there aren't any records of the construction costs, although when the museum took over in 1929, the Minneapolis Tribune stated that the cost is thought to have been in the neighborhood of $1 million, but no one knows for sure. The mansion became a museum in 1929 when the family donated it and the newspaper to start the American Institute for Swedish Arts, Literature and Science; sometime later becoming the American Swedish Institute.  The mansion has 33 rooms, two story grand hall, carved stone and woodwork, sculpted ceilings and 11 floor to ceiling kakelugnar, which are Swedish porcelain tile stoves.

February 11, 2011