Walker Art Center

Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
Trip End Oct 14, 2011

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Where I stayed
Mendota Heights Motel

Flag of United States  , Minnesota
Tuesday, September 13, 2011

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I went to the Walker Art Center today. When I first arrived I followed the signs for museum parking.  I got to a lot, paid at one of the machines that have become popular recently, put my receipt on the dash, headed for the museum and then came to the museum parking garage I should have parked in for the museum.  I think they need better signage.  Anyway, walking to the museum let me see some of the outdoor sculpture and see the building.

The original building was designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes.  It doesn't stand out next to the recent museum expansion done by Herzog & de Meuron Architekten, the same firm that designed the Beijing National Stadium that was seen by millions during the last Olympics.  The outside of the HdM portion is covered in metal with irregularly shaped windows and sloping walls, making it much more noticeable.  I found the gallery space, which is almost entirely in the original building, to be confusingly and inconveniently laid out with galleries spread out over lots of floors and at multiple levels within a floor.  Since the HdM portion contains so little gallery space I didn't get a chance to see much of it from the inside.

The Walker is considered one of the top five modern art museums in the country.  I couldn't really tell what their collection is like from one visit.  Everything I saw was part of a temporary exhibit although many of the pieces are from their permanent collection.  They had quite a number of temporary exhibits including "Midnight Party", a show about art related to dreams, fantasies and visions, "The Parade: Nathalie Djurberg with music by Hans Berg", which featured five very strange claymation videos and dozens of large bird sculptures, "Baby Marx", which lets you see the set, puppets and some footage from a movie being made there by Pedro Reyes,  "Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera Since 1870", which has pictures made on the sly as well as displays of some of the miniature cameras used, Nan Goldin's "The Ballad of Sexual Dependency", a slide show featuring her friends and lovers, "Absentee Landlord", a show mostly made up of works from their permanent collection curated by John Waters and "Live from Shiva's Dance Floor", a video directed by Richard Linklater.  In addition to the exhibits the museum features dance, film, theater and music performances and lectures, talks and readings.

In spite of their reputation as a top modern art museum, I understand their collection is mostly contemporary rather than modern art, which is consistent with what I saw.  I found the shows interesting but I can't say I really liked much of what I saw but since I'm more of a fan of modern art than I am of contemporary art, I guess that's to be expected.  Even though I didn't like many of the artworks, the shows were quite extensive and well done.

The Walker also operates the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Cowles Conservatory in conjunction with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.  The sculpture garden is one of the largest urban sculpture gardens in the country with 40 permanent art installations and several other temporary pieces that are moved in and out periodically.  The largest (Well, second largest I suppose since they consider a footbridge connecting the sculpture park to a nearby park one of the sculptures.) and probably most well-known is "Spoonbridge and Cherry", a huge sculpture of a cherry on a spoon designed by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.

The Cowles Conservatory has a large sculpture by Frank Gehry called "Standing Glass Fish" and I believe two other sculptures that light up at night that I couldn't see during the day.  There were some plants but much of the conservatory was empty.  I'm not sure what it's used for.

Next I went to the IDS Center, the tallest building in Minneapolis.  It's been around for a while.  A portion of the opening scenes of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" was shot in one of the restaurants in the building to give you some idea how old it is.  It's on the American Institute of Architects' list of America's Favorite Architecture.  The building does not have an observation deck.  The main public part of the building is an area called the Crystal Court.  It's OK, but I can't say I was blown away by it.

I saw a review for a local tapas restaurant, Solera Cocina de Espana, and decided to check out at least a small part of the Minneapolis restaurant scene.  It's certainly not in the same league as the restaurants that have been part of my restaurant tour but the tapas I got were good.
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