Culture + Style

Art-eapolis: The Unexpectedly Dazzling Public Art of Minneapolis

Minneapolis is known for its Scando-accented lifestyle, its once-enviable music scene, and its many lakes sprinkled throughout the urban landscape. But if you do a double-take, you’ll see something fascinating: art. Lots of it.

From sculpture to architecture to design, this Midwestern metropolis of 400,000 has quietly become an art-centric city. Plus, there are two new developments any art-lover should take note of: the Walker Art Center’s outdoor Sculpture Garden reopened after a yearlong renovation, and the city’s parks and rec department launched a new interactive guide to more than 300 pieces of public art scattered around town.

It’s never been a better time to take a self-guided art tour of the Midwest’s coolest city.

Stones, Murals and a Touch of Dylan

A less-trammeled but equally intriguing art-filled outdoor space is Zoran’s Sculpture Park, located along the Mississippi River in the Northeast neighborhood. The work of Belgrade-born artist Zoran Mojsilov, the park is sprinkled with a mishmash of stone sculptures that make for a fun stroll.

And while you’re there, head a few blocks over to 13th and University avenues to gawk at the striking mural by famed street artists Broken Crow and OverUnder. The image of two anthropomorphic buildings joined together is worth the jaunt.

Heading back to downtown, spy another awe-inspiring wall mural at Hennepin Avenue and 5th Street. Artist Eduardo Kobra completed this massive three-part portrait of Minnesota-born Bob Dylan in 2015. The brightly colored depiction shows Dylan in three phases of his career, and you need not be a fan of his music to appreciate this five-story, colorful piece of city art.

A Contemporary Fix

minneapolis art scene
Pay a visit to the sculpture garden at the Walker Art Center. (Photo: Getty Images)

Start your tour at the Walker Art Center, a building designed by the magnificent Swiss duo Herzog and de Meuron that has a great permanent collection, including works by Chuck Close, Edward Hopper and Any Warhol, among others.

The 19-acre Sculpture Garden, which opened 30 years ago, was one of the first of its kind in the United States and features some striking eye candy. There are 18 new pieces that were installed during the renovation, as well as work by artists such as Sol DeWitt, Aaron Spangler and Eva Rothschild.

But the piece de resistance is still “Spoonbridge and Cherry” by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, a massive, 7,000-pound, plus-sized spoon with a cherry resting on top.

“The Purple Yoda”

minneapolis art scene
It wouldn’t be a trip to Minneapolis without paying homage to Prince. (Photo: Getty Images)

And since we’re on the topic of famous native sons, one cannot escape Minneapolis without an homage to Prince. Twenty blocks down Hennepin Avenue at 26th Street, find Rock “Cyfi” Martinez’s 2016 memorial to the late musical genius and one-time unpronounceable symbol. The mural depicts the artist from the shoulders up with a dove taking flight.

Art and Architecture

minneapolis art scene
Check out the funktastic architecture of the Weisman. (Photo: Getty Images)

From murals to buildings, head across the Mississippi on the Washington Avenue Bridge to check out one of Frank Gehry’s most dynamic buildings. The Canadian-born architect designed the Weisman Art Museum on the campus of the University of Minnesota in 1993, and the museum features the great architect’s signature wavy, curved steal wrapped around the structure. Inside, the museum is an impressive collection of modern art with pieces by Alfred Maurer, Charles Biederman and Marsden Hartley.

Before You Go

There are hundreds more pieces on public display scattered around the city. Not even lifelong locals have seen all the art in this intriguing, underrated city. But if you just can’t get enough, on your departure at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, there’re two last pieces of art to see.

Installed in 2017 in terminal 2, artist Philip Noyed’s colorful “Aurora Borealis” and “L’Etoile du Nord” are eye-pleasers and a perfect way to say farewell to Minneapolis.