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Three people sitting and looking at art in Weisman Art Museum.

A recent poll in an online edition of the Wall Street Journal listed the Weisman as one of the 150 most popular buildings in America.

A destination for museums and galleries

The U's campuses hold a bevy of treasures for art enthusiasts

By Pauline Oo

March 20, 2007

Each year about 150,000 people walk through the Weisman Art Museum's doors. The ultra modern building on the Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis, with its stainless steel and wild jumble of angular shapes, is just one of many museums at the University of Minnesota. The U is a popular destination for art enthusiasts, thanks to several art galleries and numerous public art pieces sprinkled throughout its five campuses.

The following is a sampling of the U's museums and galleries. Admission (except for the Bell Museum) is free, and hours vary. All University museums and galleries are closed on U holidays.

Curtis L. and Arleen M. Carlson Heritage Gallery

The Curtis L. and Arleen M. Carlson Heritage Gallery is a multimedia exhibit in the McNamara Alumni Center on the Twin Cities campus that honors the accomplishments of University of Minnesota students, alumni, faculty and staff. Its 55-foot-high doorway--made of brick from the arch of the former on-campus Memorial Stadium--leads to a 2,600-square-foot room filled with permanent and changing photographs, videos, artifacts, inventions (such as the original K ration), and interactive kiosks, as well as a University timeline and The Wall of Books. The latter is an eight-foot stack of 5,000 books written by or about alumni, faculty, and students.

The gallery is open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. (On occasion, the gallery is closed due to a private event; call 612-624-9831 to confirm that it's open.)

Goldstein Museum of Design

The Goldstein Museum of Design, initially the Goldstein Gallery (formed in 1976), was created in honor of sisters, art collectors and former University of Minnesota instructors Harriet and Vetta Goldstein. The museum is a nationally recognized teaching museum and research center devoted to the study of design--dress, textiles, decorative arts and graphic design. Its permanent collection comprises more than 27,000 objects in four collection areas: costume, decorative arts, graphic design and textile. Items include a Chinese imperial robe, an assortment of beaded handbags and children's shoes, neolithic Chinese tomb wares, a 21st-century plastic fly swatter, and American quilts.

The museum is located at 241 McNeal Hall on the Twin Cities campus in St. Paul. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

To learn more about the current exhibit, "Design Redux: Eames as Paper" (through April 1), read "At the Goldstein: making of the Eames paper".

HGA Gallery

The HGA Gallery adjacent to the auditorium in Rapson Hall is named for the architecture firm Hamel, Green and Abrahamson. The gallery features two main shows per semester by local and international architects, landscape architects and designers. Visitors can enjoy new fabric architecture in "Textilien" through April 24. The gallery is open during building hours.

Once you're in Rapson, visit the two other galleries in the building: the lower-level gallery outside the Metropolitan Design Center, which showcases work by high school students in the U's Architecture Youth Project, and the courtyard between the old architecture building and the new Rapson Hall, which occasionally features design studio work by University students.

Humanities Fine Arts Gallery

The Humanities Fine Arts is the largest building on the Morris campus. It was built in 1973, and it houses the Humanities Fine Arts Gallery, which features a changing variety of student work and one-of-a-kind creations by national and international artists. Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 9 a .m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Humphrey Forum

From his first campaign for mayor of Minneapolis in 1943 until his last election to the U.S. Senate in 1976, Hubert Humphrey collected material that represented the culture of American politics. Most of those items are now part of the U's Humphrey Forum, a museum of 20th century government, politics and history. The museum, located in the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs on the West Bank, owns more than 10,000 objects, 8,000 photographs, 200 works of art, more than 100 films and videotapes and more than 30 linear feet of manuscripts. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The museum features themed or traveling exhibits periodically; for current exhibit, see Humphrey Forum.

James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History

Constructed between 1920 and the late 1940s, the two floors of dioramas in the Bell Museum illustrate what Minnesota was like before the ax and plow. You'll learn animal facts, observe animal behavior and find out how certain species survive. The museum, located on the Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis, also has a West Gallery that showcases artwork and traveling exhibits from around the world; the Touch and See Room where you can pet a turtle, stare down a grizzly or try on a pair of antlers; and the Rainforest Exhibit, which offers a view of the rainforest canopy from two aerial walkways.

Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children and seniors; free for Bell members and University of Minnesota faculty, staff and students; and free for the general public on Sunday.

Katherine E. Nash Gallery

Former Department of Art faculty member Katherine Nash created the Katherine E. Nash Gallery in 1979. In fall 2003, the gallery--originally located on the lower concourse of Willey Hall--moved to its current location in the Regis Center for Art in the heart of West Bank Arts Quarter. Its 4,900-square-foot exhibition space provides a venue for thesis work by master of fine arts students and University art faculty, as well as regional, national and international artists. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Paul Whitney Larson Art Gallery

The 520-square-foot Paul Whitney Larson Art Gallery, located on the lower level of the St. Paul Student Center, was named in honor of alumnus Paul Whitney Larson. Larson was director of the student center from 1959 to 1979, and he had a passion for music and the arts, as well as a desire to foster the appreciation of the arts among the University community. Current exhibits are "Expressions," featuring mixed media paintings by Nancy Rosen and Fred Nocella (through April 5), and "Sculpture Works" by University of Minnesota graduate students (April 12 to May 7). Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and 10a.m. to 4p.m. Friday.

Tweed Museum of Art

In the 1920s and early 1930s, George P. Tweed and his wife, Alice, began collecting 19th and early 20th century European and American painting, including examples of the French Barbizon School and Impressionist-influenced American Landscape painting. After Tweed's death in 1946, his wife saw the collection's potential as an educational resource for the community and the University. She helped raise funds for the Tweed Museum of Art on the Duluth campus. The museum, dedicated in 1958, has more than 5,000 fine art objects from the 15th century to the present in its permanent collection. Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday to Friday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For information on current exhibits and educational programs, visit the Tweed Museum.

Weisman Art Museum

The Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum has been a landmark for the University of Minnesota and the Twin Cities since 1993. Renowned architect Frank Gehry designed the curvaceous stainless steel structure, located along the Mississippi River on the East Bank. The museum is home to more than 17,000 works of art, including Mimbres pottery, Korean furniture and paintings by early 20th century American artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe and Marsden Hartley.

To learn more about the current exhibit, read "Bringing it all back home". For information about the museum's upcoming expansion, which will add three new wings to the iconic building, read "Expansion in the wings".