Mayor Jacob Frey is unlocking the doors to Minneapolis.
On May 18 and 19, city leaders will invite visitors into more than 110 buildings across Minneapolis — from the well-known places such as the Basilica of St. Mary to the more obscure, like the Minneapolis police K-9 kennel. They say it’s a civic celebration designed to let the public get to know the city’s architecture by exploring it behind the scenes.
Frey announced the weekend-long “Doors Open Minneapolis” Tuesday afternoon at Bellisio Foods Inc., a frozen food laboratory on 1201 Harmon Place that will be part of the event.
“You know that building you walk by every day?” said Frey. “Maybe it’s the post office downtown. Maybe it’s that Scottish Rite building down on Dupont in Uptown. Maybe it’s City Hall. This is an opportunity to explore that building — and by extension, the stories of our city.”
The free event is patterned after a similar one in Chicago, which brought 100,000 visitors to 257 sites last year. Milwaukee holds its own Doors Open event as well and last year opened up 171 buildings. Frey couldn’t estimate how many visitors the event would bring to Minneapolis.
Scott Mayer, a representative for Doors Open, said he attended versions in other cities and knew “it could be a really big hit here in Minneapolis.”
“It’s more than just having folks go into a building, taking a photo and leaving,” said Mayer. “It’s really about telling the story of the city.”
Mayer said the participating venues will give tours and tell visitors about their history. Some buildings participating are already open to the public, but Mayer said the event will allow people to see areas they’re usually not allowed to go.
“A hotel is a public place of accommodation; you can go into a hotel any time,” he said. “But it’s not very often that perhaps you get to see where they do all the laundry — where they clean 1,000 sheets every day — or you might not be able to go back into the kitchen and see what the catering operation looks like. So every venue is going to be doing something just a little bit different.”
The city is seeking 1,000 volunteers to assist with the event. Funding is coming from the Minneapolis Foundation and nonprofit and private sponsors, including the American Institute of Architects, Comcast and the Star Tribune.
In his first term as mayor, Frey has talked about his vision to make Minneapolis a “world-class city,” and he said this event will be a step toward fulfilling that goal.
“A huge part of being a world-class city is highlighting that which sets us apart,” Frey said. “And what sets us apart is our rich diversity, our rich history, or culture and our buildings. What Doors Open Minneapolis does is highlight all of them in one fell swoop.”
Buildings will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Frey said he hopes to make Doors Open an annual event in Minneapolis. Other buildings participating include the Hennepin Theatre Trust, Hennepin County jail, Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque, First Avenue and 7th Street Entry, the Danish American Center and H. White Men’s Room, a north Minneapolis barber shop.
See the event’s website for a full list: doorsopenminneapolis.org.