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History of MMAA

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The Minnesota Museum of American Art (MMAA) was founded as the St. Paul School of Fine Arts in 1894, and formally incorporated in 1927, when it began collecting works of art for instructional purposes. From the 1950s on, under the name Saint Paul Art Center, it pursued an avid program of exhibitions—including biennials of drawings, craft, and contemporary art—and assembled an esteemed collection of paintings, work on paper, sculpture, and craft.


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The bulk of the MMAA collections have been assembled since the late 1940s. Our most important asset, this collection of approximately 4,000 works of art, offers a snapshot of the giving and collecting priorities of the museum and its donors over the decades and is a cultural asset that has been beloved by local audiences over generations. From the work of native sons and daughters--Paul Manship, Clara Mairs, George Morrison, Wing Young Huie, and Warren MacKenzie, to name a few--to outstanding collections of mid-century studio craft (textiles, pottery, metal, jewelry, wood) and American Masters (Thomas Hart Benton, Ed Ruscha, Grant Wood, etc.), MMAA's collection tells a unique and extremely interesting story of our city, our priorities, and ourselves. 


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Renamed the Minnesota Museum of Art in 1969, it became a leading presence on the Twin Cities art scene through its educational programs and nationally-regarded exhibitions. In 1992, the museum added “American” to its name to reflect its increasing focus on national and regional art and the changing nature of the American experience as seen through the visual arts.       


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The museum has been housed in a variety of St. Paul locations throughout its history, including the Jemne Building, Landmark Center, and through January 2009, the West Publishing Company on Kellogg Boulevard. From 1909 to the present, MMAA has organized “on the road” exhibitions and art engagements that have brought the MMAA collection and programs to audiences throughout the Midwest. In December 2012, MMAA opened n a new gallery in the Pioneer-Endicott Building—the MMAA Project Space —a move that explores the potential of making the building the museum’s permanent home.


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As St. Paul’s only visual arts museum, MMAA intends to produce the highest-quality visual arts experiences for our community by presenting thoughtful exhibitions, providing essential arts education programs, offering opportunities for established and aspiring artists to grow their audiences, and facilitating arts access through vital outreach initiatives into diverse communities.


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Names


1907-1918

  Saint Paul Institute
   School of Art
1922-1924
  
Minnesota School of Art
1924-1939
   Saint Paul School of Art
   (incorporated 1927)
1939-1940
   Saint Paul Galleries and
   School of Art
1940-1962
   Saint Paul Gallery and
   School of Art
1962-1969
   Saint Paul Art Center
1969-1992
   Minnesota Museum of Art
1992 to present
   Minnesota Museum of
   American Art                   
  




Locations

(all in St. Paul)

1894-1895
   Metropolitan Hotel
1895-1904
  Moore Building at
  Seven Corners
1904-1909
   St. Paul Auditorium
   Fourth Street
1924-1926
   Court Block
1926-1928
   107 East Third Street
1928-1932
   23 East Sixth Street
1932-1939
   Haynes photographic
   studio, 341 Selby
   Avenue at Virgina
1939-1964
   476 Summit Avenue
1964-1979
   Arts & Sciences Center,
   30 East Tenth Street
1969-1993
   Jemne Building
   (formerly the Women's
   City Club)
1979-2004
   Landmark Center
   (formerly the Federal
   Courts Building)
2004-2009
   Ramsey County
   Government Center
   (formerly West 
   Publishing)      
                             

 


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