The Walker Art Center is a multi-disciplinary art center in Minneapolis specializing in modern and contemporary art. It is one of the most-visited art museums of its type in the U.S., and together with the adjacent Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, it attracts almost three-quarters of a million visitors per year. The museum’s permanent collection includes over 13,000 art pieces, including paintings, sculpture, books, photos, prints, drawings, costumes and film, with a special focus on works after 1960. Some highlights of the collection include:
- Big Self-Portrait by American photorealist Chuck Close
- The Large Blue Horses, the signature piece by German expressionist Franz Marc
- Office at Night by American realist Edward Hopper
- 16 Jackies by American pop artist Andy Warhol
The museum began in 1879 as the personal art gallery of Thomas Barlow Walker, a local lumber baron. In 1927, he formally established his collection as the Walker Art Gallery, and in 1940, the name was changed to the Walker Art Center, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2015. The original building, designed by Edward L Barnes, was first expanded in 1984, and again in 2005 by Herzon & de Meuron after the departure of the neighboring Guthrie Theatre. The latest expansion included the addition of more gallery space, a theater, restaurant, gift shop, and special events space. And for the past several years, the Walker has featured an artist-designed mini-golf course with wacky obstacles (below) and a good view of the Minneapolis skyline.
Since the 1960s, the Walker has commissioned some 265 performance works, ranging from performance art, theater, and dance to music and spoken word. It is one of the largest museum-sponsored programs of its kind in the nation. In 1970 the Center Opera disbanded from its original home at the Walker to become the Minnesota Opera, which found a new home at the Ordway Center in St. Paul.
- Visited: Most recently, Summer 2018
- List of America’s Favorite Architecture: ranked #117