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Take a big bite out of this Mini-Apple’s culture

Created date

May 21st, 2013
Spoon sculpture at The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis

Minneapolis is a good theater town. It’s a good art town. It’s an interesting town architecturally. I understand a famous mall isn’t far away—the enormous Mall of America in nearby Bloomington—but theater and art and architecture kept me too busy to check that out. I understand it’s the most visited mall in the world, although not by me.

Minneapolis isn’t a town to discover in the winter, unless cold and snow are your delight. Locals seem to like cold and snow; sturdy bicyclists commute all year. When not biking, they can make use of 22 miles of skywalk, building to building. Minneapolis is an excellent bicycle town, however, with plentiful bike lanes and, from April through November, Nice Bike stands handily located for quick and easy rental throughout the downtown (they’re removed to make way for snow plows in winter). Nice Bike’s sturdy green stock is cheap for short runs but expensive for long ones. For a real exploration of the city’s considerable biking pleasures, look for a bicycle rental shop.


If you like theater, you’ve come to the right place. Founded in 1963 in reaction to Broadway offerings, the Guthrie Theater has become an institution of its own, with three theaters in one building, a resident company, state-of-the-art backstage areas, and a high standard of professionalism. Chances are there will be something playing you will be glad to see.

Architecture has its say here as well—the current building, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, opened in 2006 and is a continuing pleasure to move through. It is located on the Mississippi, taking surprise advantage of river views, and includes three restaurants and a gift shop I shamelessly patronized. Delightful things. The Guthrie also has an on-site theater library and staff librarian, and the entire complex is open from 8 a.m. to midnight. The presence of the Guthrie has encouraged live theater in the city. Check it out.


The Walker Art Center held me the longest. Its focus is modern/contemporary and the museum is generally conceded to be among the best in that field in the U.S. Immediately next to it is the wonderful Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, one of the nation’s largest urban sculpture parks. The hardy residents of this northern city are unaccountably fond of outdoor sculpture and one of the pleasures there is its frequent encounter. At the Weisman Art Museum on the campus of the University of Minnesota, the building is the draw. Designed by Frank Gehry, it is a visual conundrum and houses a modern art collection—more Marsden Hartley paintings than I’ve ever seen in one place—along with Korean furniture.


Aside from the buildings mentioned above, just walking around downtown provides a full share of visual stimulation. The new buildings are more interesting than the old, but a visitor might wonder what disappeared so that the new might come to be. I enjoyed Minneapolis thoroughly, though, and I think that you would, too.