Minnesota Museum of American Art
After incorporating as the Saint Paul School of Art in 1926, the institution began collecting art in 1940 after receiving a collection of Chinese jade art pieces in a bequest. From the 1950s on, it operated under the name Saint Paul Gallery and School of Art and later the Saint Paul Art Center. It was renamed the Minnesota Museum of Art in 1969 and renamed the Minnesota Museum of American Art in 1992.
In 2009, MMAA galleries closed after losing its gallery space in the Ramsey County Government Center to redevelopment, though they maintained offices and traveling exhibitions. Most of the works were put in storage. In 2012, MMAA announced they would reopen for limited hours in the Pioneer Building in Lowertown in October of that year.
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 October 2012, MMAA will open 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.
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.
The Project Space
The Project Space, which celebrated its two-year anniversary in December 2014, is MMAA’s only gallery for exhibitions and events while the museum builds a permanent facility in the Pioneer Endicott building. This gallery has been the museum’s “foot in the door” at this location, allowing us to present programming until design and construction of the permanent facility, which will include new galleries, classrooms, offices, retail, and a variety of gathering spaces, is complete. Until then, the Project Space will remain as the MMAA’s front door gallery to the community.
The Project Space is also a laboratory for investigating how the museum can serve the local community. Curator of Engagement Christina Chang has been hard at work building sustainable and mutually beneficial partnerships with different collaborators to bring new, diverse audiences into the museum’s artistic and educational activities. In the past two years, MMAA has partnered with organizations such as the McNally Smith College of Music, the Saint Paul Public Library, Saint Paul Public Schools, Twin Cities Public Television, Opportunity Partners (serving people with disabilities), and Rainbow Rumpus, which publishes literature for children and youth with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) parents.
MMAA remains committed to hiring from the pool of talented artists and independent scholars in the area to lead teaching initiatives, art-making projects, and discussions. The large artist community in nearby Lowertown is a natural partner for MMAA, and the Project Space is an active participant with the Saint Paul Art Crawl and Lowertown First Fridays. The Project Space additionally serves local artists by functioning as a community gallery that occasionally hosts shorter-term experimental projects.