The Minneapolis Institute of Arts announced Thursday that from now on it wants to be known as "Mia" (pronounced Me-ahh). It also has dropped an "s," changing its name to Minneapolis Institute of Art.
For years museum officials fretted that its former acronym, MIA, brought to mind sad associations with soldiers missing in action. That was definitely not the image a forward-thinking cultural institution wanted, even though those letters were emblazoned on its shopping bags, stationery and even ties worn by museum guards.
So the change to Mia is a bit of a typographical trick to introduce a new, softer identity. It was invented by the museum in consultation with Pentagram, a New York branding firm. As they explained, Mia is "a name with positive meanings in cultures around the world -- mine, my own, beloved." The new name, they claim "embraces and reflects the warmer and friendlier aspects of the museum's identity."
It's true that identity changes are all the rage these days -- think Caitlyn. But Mia seems awfully precious and cute, especially for an institution celebrating its centennial. After 100 years, Mia is something of a cultural grande dame in Minnesota. Her new, highly feminized name is maybe a little too sweet for a gal on the fast lane to 101.
Whether the now rogue "s" also will be chiseled from the name on the museum's white-brick Third Av facade is not clear.