Turning 100 calls for one big party. Or a bunch of them, as the Minneapolis Institute of Arts is planning for its 2015 centennial.
There will be classy exhibitions with gleaming armor, royal regalia, a gilded carriage fit for Cinderella, art by a galaxy of superstars including Leonardo da Vinci, Velazquez, Caravaggio and Delacroix, plus contemporary shows featuring popster Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo fame, and a hand-crocheted coral reef.
“After all, you only turn 100 once,” museum director Kaywin Feldman said Tuesday.
Plans include reproducing one of the museum’s greatest hits, Van Gogh’s “Olive Trees,” as a crop-art field visible to air travelers arriving at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Throughout the year there will be impromptu musical performances, gala openings and pop-up events around town. Even Minnesota water towers will be wrapped in reproductions of famous MIA art.
Still, the museum is keeping mum about some treats. Painting curator Patrick Noon has secured three masterpieces “by the biggest names in art” from European museums — each to be displayed for about eight weeks — but officials declined to say more.
The special exhibitions kick off Feb. 15 with “The Habsburgs: Rarely Seen Masterpieces From Europe’s Greatest Dynasty,” a glittering collection on loan from Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches museum.
Besides the fairy-tale carriage, it includes some of the most famous paintings in European history, including “Jupiter and Io,” an ethereal 1530 confection by Correggio of a luscious nude being seduced by the god Jupiter disguised as a teddy bear-like cloud. That picture has never traveled to the United States. Nor have Caravaggio’s depiction of Christ being crowned with thorns, or Hans Holbein’s portrait of Jane Seymour, third wife of England’s King Henry VIII. After closing May 10, the show travels to Houston and Atlanta.
Leonardo da Vinci’s “Codex Leicester” will be showcased June 21-Aug. 30. It’s a notebook Leonardo compiled in Milan between 1506 and 1515, when he worked as a court engineer, artist and all-around genius. Written in his typical mirror-script, the manuscript is pretty much unintelligible to anyone but scholars. It includes observations about the movement of tides and speculations about the Earth and composition of the moon. Now owned by Bill Gates, the 72-page Codex is one of only 31 surviving Leonardo manuscripts.
The Leonardo show will be paired with “Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia” (opening June 18) in an effort to link two creative people “demonstrating intense originality in two very different ways,” as a museum statement put it.
Come fall, tempestuous French paintings take the stage in “Eugène Delacroix and Modernity,” on view Oct. 18, 2015. The show tracks the influence of Delacroix’s innovative color and stylistic brio on the paintings of Manet, Matisse, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Renoir, Degas, Monet and other 19th century French masters.
A century of changes
The museum grew dramatically in its first century. When it opened in 1915, it had about 800 objects. Now it has 87,000 paintings, sculptures, photos and other art spanning 5,000 years and every continent but Antarctica. Its galleries are almost 15 times bigger, having grown to 473,000 square feet.
Only the price of admission has shrunk. Getting in cost a quarter in 1915. Now it’s free.
On Tuesday the museum also announced a new free membership program that includes communiqués, special events, members’ days and discounts on tickets, lectures, classes and store purchases.
The museum raised $6 million for the centennial festivities, primarily from local foundations, individuals, Friends of the MIA and corporations including Best Buy and U.S. Bank.