A boost in revenue and a giant burst in attendance marked the Walker Art Center’s fiscal year, as the Minneapolis nonprofit balanced its budget for the 37th consecutive year.
Thanks to the grand reopening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in June 2017, the Walker saw the number of visitors leap from 391,323 last year to 1,135,407 in fiscal 2017-18. The garden alone drew 859,901 — more than double the previous peak in the past decade, before it closed for renovations.
Overall, the budget grew 5.5 percent to $22.8 million, driven by increased revenue from its admissions and food service, the performing arts program and its annual Avant Garden fundraising gala.
The Walker, which is preparing to welcome a new executive director, Mary Ceruti, in January, drew a smaller amount last year from its endowment, which grew 6 percent from the previous year. About one-third of the museum’s income came from the endowment draw.
Contributions declined from $8.9 million to $8.3 million but membership rose 6.4 percent to 7,195.
In recapping the year, the Walker took note of the 2017 controversy surrounding Sam Durant’s sculpture “Scaffold,” which triggered protests that delayed the reopening of the Sculpture Garden. The Walker ultimately agreed to dismantle the work, modeled in part on the gallows used to hang 38 Dakota men after the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War, and turn it over to Dakota elders.
The Walker’s board said it was working to improve its acquisitions process and develop new protocols for placing art in public spaces. A selection committee including American Indian artists will consult on a new outdoor work by an Indian artist to be commissioned for the Walker collection.