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Minneapolis Institute of Arts balanced budget, gets new art

  • July 19, 2012 - 5:27 PM

Emily Allchurch used a transparency and light box to create "Tokyo Story 1: Lotus Garden (After Hiroshige)," recently acquired by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

By MARY ABBE

At its annual meeting July 19, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts announced that it had balanced its $25 million annual budget and successfully completed a four year plan to focus its collection, integrate contemporary art, boost scholarship and increase its national recognition.

The museum's attendance in the fiscal year that ended June 30 stood at 456,410, down slightly from 471,000 the previous year. Membership fell to 17,347, its lowest level since 1992 when it stood at 17,100.

Attendance at two exhibits reversed expectations. "Edo Pop," which mixed traditional Japanese prints with contemporary paintings and video, attracted about 30,000 visitors, nearly double predictions. But the highly touted "Sports Show," a mid-winter photo survey, pulled less than 18,000 people, about half what the museum anticipated.

The museum is attracting younger and more diverse crowds, said director Kaywin Feldman. The average age of visitors is now 42, down from 46 just four years ago when Feldman arrived. In the same period, the average age of the museum's members has fallen to 55 from 68. She credited the trend to an ambitious contemporary art program funded in part by a $750,000 four-year grant from the Wallace Foundation that has mixed contemporary art into historic galleries and exhibitions, commissioned new work, and supported artists-in-residence.

As part of a plan to focus its collection, the museum is buying fewer objects but aiming for top quality. "We're going for masterpieces rather than representative examples," Feldman said. It now buys about 500 pieces each year rather than 1,500, which was its annual average in 2008.

 

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