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The Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

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The Front Facade of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

The Front Facade of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Clara James
The Walker Art Center is a significant modern art gallery just outside downtown Minneapolis. The Walker Art Center contains almost 9000 objects of modern art, renowned restaurants and an excellent shop in a stunning modern building. The world-famous Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is directly opposite.

The History of the Walker Art Center

The Walker Art Center has always been innovative. It was founded in 19th century as the first public art gallery in the upper Midwest.

The current building is in two parts. In 1971, what is now the north wing, designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes, opened. In 2005 a Herzog & de Meuron extension opened, doubling the size of the museum. The new part of the Walker is an imposing steel cube hovering above a glass lobby.

The galleries divided by dramatically sloping walls, and interspersed with serene lounges. The metal exterior is covered with embossed aluminum mesh panels that brood on dark days, and shimmer in the sunshine.

Art and Performance

Although the Walker Art Center has existed for over a century, the museum only began to focus on modern arts in the middle of the 20th century. From early acquisitions of works by Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, and Alberto Giacometti, the Walker now has almost 9000 works of art from important modern artists like Matthew Barney, Roy Lichtenstein, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, and Andy Warhol.

Many notable traveling exhibitions are hosted at the Walker.

As well as art, the Walker also promotes contemporary dance, film, music and theater. There is a performance of some kind on most days.

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and the Cowles Conservatory

Directly across from the Walker Art Center is the Minneapolis Sculpture garden, a collaboration between the Walker and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board.

The famous and enormous Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen is the centerpiece of the park, and the unofficial icon of Minneapolis. It's kept company by some 40 other works of art.

In the south side of the park is the Cowles Conservatory, containing seasonal floral displays, a palm house, and more works of art like Frank Gehry's gigantic Standing Fish.

Visiting the Walker Art Center: Parking, Dining and Shopping

Location

1750 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Telephone 612-375-7600

Take the Hennepin Avenue/Lyndale Avenue exit from Interstate 94, head north, and you'll see the Walker Art Center on the left, approximately a quarter-mile from the freeway.

Parking

The Walker Art Center has an underground pay parking lot. The entrance is on the Vineland Place. Continue down Vineland Place for free one-hour parking on the streets around the Walker, and another outdoor pay parking lot on the right, next to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

I've seen more parking enforcement cars on this road than on any other in Minneapolis, so it's unwise to dally if your parking time is running out.

Admission

There is an admission charge for the Walker Art Center. The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and the Cowles Conservatory are free to visit.

Dining

Two Wolfgang Puck restaurants are in the Walker Art Center. The 20.21 Restaurant & Bar is open for lunch and dinner, and the Gallery 8 Cafe opens for lunch. Or, cross the Irene Hixon Whitney pedestrian bridge into Loring Park and choose one of the cafes or restaurants there.

Walker Shop

The Walker Shop contributes an important part of the Walker Art Center's finances, but it's a well-deserved earner of your pennies. There's a huge wall of art books, together with stylish and modern gifts, housewares and jewelry. This is the kind of store you will find something for that hard-to-buy for person's birthday.

The Walker Art Center's Website
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