Vermeer and 'The Habsburgs'

Last call: Two of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts' centennial celebration exhibits are about to end. This Sunday, May 3, is the last chance to catch Vermeer's "Woman Reading a Letter," after which the famous 1663 painting will fly home to Amsterdam. And next Sunday, May 10, will be the last opportunity to encounter "The Habsburgs." With a fairy-tale carriage and sleigh pulled by life-size horse mannequins, a half-dozen of the world's rarest and most valuable paintings, weapons and armor, lavish costumes and exotic bibelots galore, it is a not-to-be-missed treasure trove of history and culture spanning 700 years. Much of the art has never before left Austria and is unlikely to travel again. The paintings — by Caravaggio, Titian, Holbein, Giorgione, Rubens, Tintoretto and Velazquez — show the Habsburg dynasty's Pan-European power. The delicious bonbon shown above, Correggio's "Jupiter and Io," depicts the Roman god — improbably disguised as a teddy-bear cloud — seducing a nymph. Who would imagine it was painted in 1530? (11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun.; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Wed. and Fri.-Sat.; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Thu. Museum admission, including the Vermeer, is free. Habsburgs show is $20 for adults. 2400 3rd Av. S. 612-870-3000,

Mary Abbe