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Posts about Minnesota History

Field trip for grown-ups

Posted by: Kristin Tillotson Updated: October 3, 2012 - 2:55 PM
Those people wandering around Northeast last Saturday afternoon wearing T-shirts that read “Field Trip” weren’t refugees from a tourist bus. They were beta testers for a new Android app that Google tried out in five markets, including the Twin Cities. With Dusty’s Bar serving as base camp, the 250 or so participants who downloaded the app walked, biked or drove to a couple dozen points of interest around the ‘hood, like artists’ studios and the seldom-opened old Hollywood Theater. A surrogate-Siri tour guide alerted them as they neared the next attraction, then gave a back story on it. On IW’s device, the gravelly-voiced guide sounded more like Bart Simpson’s aunts than serene Siri, but it's a fun tool for autonomous exploration and discovery of less- obvious neighborhood gems -- and a great way for the advertisers Google hopes to attract to reach people who are walking right past their doors. Future events may be in the works, said Kate Iverson of Permanent Art & Design Group, which developed the local content, but the app for Northeast can be used any time and will continually be expanded. An iPhone-friendly version is in development. To download, go to www.fieldtripper.com.

46 grants given for Minnesota history projects

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: December 20, 2011 - 6:26 PM

State history got a shot in the arm Tuesday when the Minnesota Historical Society awarded 48 grants to 46 recipients throughout the state.

The money comes from taxpayers via the 2008 Legacy Amendment, which sets aside funds for arts and culture, as well as environmental programs.

The grant amounts in this round are for $7,000 or less.

One grant in Hennepin County will pay $5,625 to the website Twin Cities Daily Planet for researching Twin Cities theaters in the 1960s and 1970s. Daily Planet freelancer Sheila Regan, who applied for the grant, said she would use the money to launch an ongoing project to locate archives, conduct interviews, unearth archival information and digitize information of what she called a key time period in the creation of the modern theater scene here.

"Part of my goal is just to find out what's out there," Regan said. "Where information is located, whether it's in libraries or in people's basements." She'll look at the history of such bigger theaters as Children's Theatre and the Guthrie, as well as smaller groups such as Heart of the Beast, she said.

Regan, a graduate of Macalester College, has an MFA in acting from Indiana University. She does some performing in the Twin Cities, in addition to her freelance writing. She will make her findings available via the Daily Planet's website.

Other winners of the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants are spread throughout the state. Grant winners will use money to:

* fix a falling facade at the Lanesboro Arts Center in Fillmore County

* buy microfilm for the Freeborn County Historical Society

* videotape oral histories of Twin Cities dancers and dance groups

* conduct a photographic history of Minnesota railroads for a book

* assemble an exhibit of ghost towns of Mower County

The nonprofit Historical Society received a 2011 legislative appropriation to award a total of $10.5 million in Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants during the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years. Grants are available  in three tiers: Small or Structured Grants of $7,000 or less, Mid-Size Grants between $7,001 and $50,000, and Large Grants of more than $50,001. For more information on the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants program, including application deadlines, visit www.mnhs.org/legacygrants. For more information about other Legacy-funded projects, please visit http://legacy.mnhs.org/.

First look inside expanded Weisman Art Museum

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: September 21, 2011 - 3:28 PM



 View showing parts of two new skylit painting galleries at expanded Weisman Art Museum. All photos by Claude Peck for Star Tribune.

These photos, shot at a media walk-through on Sept. 21, show some of the new spaces created by architect Frank Gehry at the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota.

The original Weisman opened in 1993 and soon became one of the Twin CIties' iconic pieces of architecture, known for the facade along the river made of curlicues of stainless steel.

The expansion, which opens to the public Oct. 2, includes 5 new galleries designed to showcase a greater number of pieces from the Weisman's collection of more than 20,000 art objects. Two galleries are devoted to paintings, one to ceramics, one to works on paper and another to collaborative projects.


 The towering skylights in the new galleries create bright volumes with hardly a 90-degree angle in sight.  


 New cantilvered "lily pads," clad in brick,wrap the east side of the Weisman. Forms at top are skylights.  


The main new feature on the north exterior is this large wavy form of stainless steel above the Washington Ave. foot bridge.

10th anniversary Saturday at century-old Palmer's Bar

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: September 16, 2011 - 4:19 PM


Spider John Koerner at Palmer's Bar in 2005, probably telling a story from the bar's storied past.  /Star Tribune file

Spider John Koerner at Palmer's Bar in 2005, probably telling a story from the bar's storied past. / Star Tribune file photos


Why is a bar that has been around for almost 100 years now celebrating its 10th anniversary on Saturday? Because that's how long it has been since the current owners of Palmer's Bar took over the beloved/bedeviled West Bank watering hole. Considering the timing of their purchase -- just days after the 9/11 tragedies -- and the downward-spiraling economy since then, they certainly have reason to celebrate.

"We seriously wondered if people were still going to be going out for drinks after 9/11," said Lisa Hammer, co-owner with her husband, Keith Berg. It was Keith who rightly surmised that "people drink in bad times as much as good times," Lisa said. Which isn't to say they've been lacking for good times the past 10 years at the bar, which opened in 1906 at 504 Cedar Ave. 

Hammer and Berg got a taste of the storied history there when they found a woman's ivory-adorned corset hidden in the walls during some renovations, which they believe was leftover from the '30s when a brothel operated upstairs. The Prohibition era also reportedly saw a secret tunnel dug between Palmer's and the 5 Corners Saloon (now the Nomad Pub).

For better or worse, Palmer's remains a bit of a relic. There's still no website to check who's performing there ("That's what keeps us a dive bar," jokes Berg). Things have changed quite dramatically around Palmer's, though, as the West Bank welcomed an influx of Somali and other African residents and businesses, while the Triple Rock and Nomad opened to bring back young rock fans. Hammer quipped, "We must be the only bar that shares a party wall with a mosque," referring to the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Civic Center. Those unlikely bedfellows had a recent run-in when one of the loudest bands in town, Chooglin', was performing at Palmer's the same night as the start of the holy month of Ramadan, unbeknownst to the bar's crew.

"I got a call about 11 at night saying, 'We can't pray! The music's too loud!' " recounted Hammer, who now coordinates schedules with Dar Al-Hijrah to avoid such future run-ins.

Saturday's free party will start out relatively quiet with Palmer's regular Spider John Koerner at 7:30 p.m. Don Von & the Solution will amp things up at 10 p.m., followed by GST around 11.

Messersmith to perform in his favorite graveyard

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: September 13, 2011 - 11:18 AM



If you remember our profile of Jeremy Messersmith last year upon the release of his breakthrough album "The Reluctant Graveyard," you'll probably recall that it really was influenced by a graveyard -- Minneapolis' Pioneers & Soldiers Cemetery, to be exact. The otherwise non-morbid singer/songwriter lives near the historic plot of plots on East Lake Street and would stroll through it for solace and inspiration while writing the record. One song, "Toussaint Grey, First in Life and Death," was even named for one of the graveyard's most notable residents, believed to be the first African American child born in Minneapolis.

Since the end results were good to Messersmith, it's probably only fitting for him to pay back his muse. He will do so Oct. 8 at 2 p.m. with what should be one of the most memorable concerts of the year, taking place right there in Pioneers & Soldiers Cemetery and benefitting its preservation. Lucy Michelle & the Velvet Lapelles will also perform. Tickets ($12) go on sale today at the Electric Fetus, Treehouse Records and Hymie's Records and should be available online here soon. Kids 12 & under can get in free. Because what young kid doesn't love playing in cemeteries?



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