A record number of visitors helped the Minneapolis Institute of Art finish its fiscal year in the black.
Thanks in part to the blockbuster exhibition “Martin Luther: Art and the Reformation,” the museum reported attendance of 891,206 in the year that ended June 30, an increase of 15 percent from the previous year, which also had set a record.
The institute balanced its $32.5 million budget despite a sharp drop in private contributions, from $9,276,357 the previous year to $7,338,694.
Executive Director Kaywin Feldman said the latter amount was more typical for the museum, which had gotten a bump in donations during its centennial celebration in 2015. “Fiscal year 2016 was the second half of what we called our birthday year,” she said. “We raised an additional $7 million that we spread over two fiscal years.”
“Luther” ranked among the museum’s all-time top five exhibits for attendance, bringing in 111,000 visitors. Another 77,700 went to see a show of work by film director Guillermo del Toro, “At Home with Monsters.”
The institute has seen steady gains in attendance practically every year of Feldman’s tenure. “Attendance was at 425,000 when I arrived 10 years ago,” she said. She credited risk-taking by her staff for the rise, but noted that the museum had devoted much of its energy in the previous decade to a major building expansion and fundraising campaigns.
The museum will begin to consider more building transformations in 2018, with the hiring of David Chipperfield Architects to focus on a possible new parking structure, improved art storage and a restaurant.
Aside from major shows such as “Luther,” the institute is free to the public — something that is helped by an unusual Hennepin County property tax that goes to support the museum. This past year, said Feldman, that contribution went up 7.77 percent — $843,157 — helped by a rise in countywide property values.