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Discover Minnesota’s amazing art museums

From renowned Twin Cities museums to lesser-known gems statewide, art shines in Minnesota. Don’t miss these must-see museums.

Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona
Minnesota Marine Art Museum (Credit: Explore Minnesota)

Minnesota museums and sculpture parks boast amazing collections of art from thousands of years ago to today. From renowned Twin Cities museums to lesser-known gems in greater Minnesota, art shines. Plan your next getaway around these must-see museums.

Art museums in Minneapolis-St. Paul

In south Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Institute of Art is the Twin Cities’ encyclopedic museum, housing more than 80,000 objects spanning 5,000 years of world history. Called Mia for short, this impressive attraction is regularly ranked among the top 10 comprehensive art museums in the country. Admission is free, with special exhibits for an additional fee.

Housed in a refurbished church and funeral home in south Minneapolis, The Museum of Russian Art is the only museum in North America dedicated to the preservation and presentation of Russian art and artifacts.

The Walker Art Center is internationally renowned for its contemporary art collection, exhibits, performances, films, and programs with leading art world figures. While there, don’t miss the next-door Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, one of the largest urban sculpture parks in the country.

The Weisman Art Museum, on the University of Minnesota campus, is known for its Frank Gehry-designed building as well as exhibits running the gamut from modernist American paintings to photography, ceramics, design and installations. The Goldstein Museum of Design features exhibits at the St. Paul campus gallery as well as a Minneapolis campus gallery. The Goldstein has a collection of more than 29,000 objects, including ceramics, textiles and designer fashions.

Art museums in southern Minnesota

The Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona exhibits Impressionist and Hudson River art including works by Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Homer, O’Keefe and many other artists. Other permanent exhibits include wooden marine folk sculptures, and temporary shows highlight regional artists and other marine themes and collections.

The Wanda Gag House in New Ulm is the childhood home of noted children’s author and illustrator Wanda Gag, who is best known for her book “Millions of Cats.” The house features lithographs, illustrations, books and other artwork by Gag.

In Rochester, the Rochester Art Center presents contemporary exhibitions of regional, national and international artists in an architecturally stunning building downtown.

Art museums in northeast Minnesota

The Tweed Museum of Art at the University of Minnesota-Duluth has a diverse collection representing artists from the region, the nation and around the world. It’s home to a unique collection of “Mountie” paintings and illustrations commissioned by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Force. In addition to its permanent collections, the Tweed features special temporary exhibitions.

Photography buffs shouldn’t miss the Brandenburg Gallery in Ely, which houses hundreds of images and videos by the Minnesota native and National Geographic photographer, many of which depict the surrounding wilderness.

Art museums in central Minnesota

The artist Francis Lee Jaques (1887-1969), who as a youth lived in Aitkin, holds a unique place in art and museum history. His large-scale landscape and wildlife paintings, gracing dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the Bell Museum of Natural History in Minneapolis, are considered to be among the finest ever created. Today, visitors to Aitkin can explore his original art and other exhibits at the Jaques Art Center, housed in a former Carnegie Library in Aitkin.

In 1856, Benedictine monks originally from Bavaria traveled to Minnesota and built an abbey dedicated to St. John the Baptist and founded St. John’s University in Collegeville. Visitors can tour the campus and visit the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library to see selected folios of The Saint John’s Bible, and other rare book and print exhibits.

Art museums in northwest Minnesota

Rourke Art Gallery + Museum in Moorhead has a collection of more than 3,000 contemporary paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, photographs, African, Native American, pre-Columbian and Hispanic works of art. The collection includes works by artists with a significant connection to the local region, such as Cameron Booth, James Rosenquist and Jerry Rudquist; and works by artists of international renown, including Joan Miro, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

The Nemeth Art Center in Park Rapids displays selections of the Gabor Nemeth collection of European paintings from the 15th-19th centuries. Nemeth, a Hungarian art restorer, brought the paintings to the United States after World War II, and offered them in the 1970s to the town of Park Rapids, his adopted summer home.