December 5, 2022

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Visiting The Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis

Want to explore one of the best modern art galleries in Minnesota both inside and outside? Let us take you on a tour of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum and everything you need to know about this amazing place.

In this post, we’ll go on a trip to the Weisman with you so that you can identify the finest things to see and do in one of Minnesota’s major landmarks.

About the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum

Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum
Image by Slaphapy used under Creative Commons License

The Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota is one of the top art museums in the United States and a must-see for anyone enjoying an arty day trip in the Twin Cities.

Established in 1924 by art collector Frederick R. Weisman, a Minneapolis native, for his personal art collection to be displayed, this museum now has over 20,000 unique pieces of art that will absolutely blow your mind.

Location

The Weisman Art Museum is located on-campus at the University of Minnesota, right next to the SE Washington Avenue Bridge on the banks of the Mississippi. 

The views from this iconic Minnesota art museum, and Frank Gehry-designed building, are amazing. You get a view of the Minneapolis skyline as well as the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River.

The Weisman also has a cafe at the east end, which is a great place to stop and have a bite to eat while you contemplate the art you’ve just seen. The cafe has an outdoor patio with views of the Mississippi River and Minneapolis skyline, making it the perfect place to relax after a day of exploring.

Hours of Operation

The area is easily accessible by public transport or by car, and the museum is open from 10 am to 8 pm on Wednesdays, 10 am to 5 pm on all other days, and closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Entry into the Weisman is completely free on all days. 

See Related: 20 Best Parks in Minneapolis, Minnesota | Regional Parks

Building Architecture

Weisman Art Museum
Image by McGhiever used under Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License

The first “attraction” you’ll see at the Weisman is the unique facade of the steel and brick building itself. Designed by Frank Gehry, a world-renowned architect who is famous for attractions like the Dancing House in Prague or the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

The building is made in a contemporary style with some unique edges and shapes made from angular brushed steel sheets.

It’s striking, to say the least!

Materials

It’s not really everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s done right, and it’s made entirely out of brick and stainless steel. Depending on where you look at the building, it can either look like an abstract fish shoal, a futuristic fortress, or a brick facade that blends in with the historic surroundings. 

Exhibitions

Weisman Art Museum Exhibitions
Image by The Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art

The collection the museum presents is a mix of ceramics, paintings, photographs, prints, drawings, posters, and even traditional Korean furniture. 

Furniture isn’t something many would expect at an art museum, but the collection of Korean furniture is truly a sight to behold.

You will be transported back in time to see how royal people really lived in ancient Korea, with things like bedside tables and mirrors that are common today but luxurious items in the past.

Paintings

The paintings are the primary attraction of the Weisman. Featuring a collection of paintings dating back to pre-colonial America, all the way up to contemporary art forms today, this museum has one of the richest collections of American art in the country.

It has major works from Marsden Hartley, Alfred Maurer, Georgia O’Keeffe, Charles Biederman, and a massive Native American art collection, with certain pieces going back thousands of years.

It contains extremely rare portraits of some of the most important people in the world at certain times, such as the portrait of Maria Luisa of Parma, Clarence Henry Eckles, Elias Potter Lyon, and more.

The primary era of these paintings is the 20th Century, although it has plenty of older and newer pieces of art as well. 

Ceramics

The ceramics section is also a lot more interesting than some might expect it to be. There are countless little preserved statuettes from the 1700s and even older ones that you’d think would’ve been in a factory somewhere in China, but no, they’ve all been carved and painted by hand.

On top of that, there are a lot of Native American plates, bowls, and tools that have been preserved here, and there’s even an extensive collection of international artifacts from the Ming Dynasty in China, and much more.

Once again, taking a look at these is going to take you back in time to see how people used to live during that time. 

Poster Exhibits

But interestingly, one of the most fascinating sections of this museum is not the paintings or the ceramics sections, but the posters section.

Posters have been used for propaganda, advertisement, and public service announcements for centuries at this point, but they’ve often been overlooked as a work of art. 

Another thing about these posters is that they were made for the public, at the time, to view. So it really gives you a brand new perspective on things. Take a look at the “We Must Have Order” poster criticizing the Cold War policies of the USSR and the US. Or the anti-American “U.S. Government Doesn’t Know Beans” poster by pro-Nicaraguan communists.

There are all sorts of posters like these, many of which will make you laugh, cry, or both. Where else would you find a Japanese tourism poster from the Imperial Era titled “Beautiful Japan” other than Imperial Era Japan?

That’s what I thought.

See Related: 18 Best Minneapolis Murals You Need to Visit

Where to stay near the Weisman Art Museum

Taking in the whole Weisman in a day ain’t easy, especially when there are more brilliant museums and art galleries in Minneapolis to visit!

Here are some of the best Minneapolis accommodations nearby:

  • Budget Accommodation: These comfortable, modern apartments by Kasa Minneapolis near the U of M come with kitchens and access to a fitness center and a cool patio.
  • Mid-Range Accommodation: The Graduate Minneapolis is one of our all-time favorite Minneapolis hotels, known for its trendy retro vibe, great food, and prime location.
  • Luxury Accommodation: If you’re looking to be wrapped up in the lap of luxury take a 9-minute car ride to central Minneapolis and check into the uber-cool Hotel Ivy Minneapolis.

See Related: Do you need a car in Minneapolis?

Final Thoughts

No matter what type of traveler you are, the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum has something for art lovers.

Whether it’s a painting or sculpture exhibition that sparks your interest, an interactive installation to make your visit memorable, or even some beautiful Korean furnishings and artifacts from ancient times.

You can find these world-renowned galleries right on campus at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis so there’s no excuse not to go if you’re visiting Minneapolis or Saint Paul.

Related Resources:

FAQ

What are the hours of operation for the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum?

Tuesday through Sunday, from 11 am to 5 pm. It is closed on Mondays.

Is there an admission fee to enter the museum?

No! Admission to the museum is free!

Does the museum offer any public programs?

Yes, it is a teaching museum that offers a variety of public programs such as tours, university lectures, films, creative collaboration, and family activities.


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