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Explore masterworks at these contemporary art museums

There are plenty of engaging, exciting museums to visit in Mississippi River Country. You’ll find works from Warhol, Hopper and more.

John Michael Kohler Arts Center
John Michael Kohler Arts Center (Credit: John Nienhuis)

Modern art lovers rejoice: There are plenty of engaging, exciting museums to visit in the 10 states that touch the Mississippi River. Here’s a look at some of the art museums you should put on your list.

Walker Art Center, Minnesota

The Walker Art Center is located in Minneapolis’ Lowry Hill neighborhood and is one of the most-visited modern art museums in the country. The center’s permanent collection houses more than 13,000 works, from sculptures to prints to books. Highlights include works from Edward Hopper, Chuck Close and Andy Warhol. (If you’re looking for the Walker Art Center, it’s easy to spot—just look for its notable neighbor, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, home to Claes Oldenburg’s iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry.)

Kemper Art Museum, Missouri

This modern art museum is located on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis and is the oldest art museum west of the Mississippi River (it was founded in 1881 and initially located in a building in downtown St. Louis). While the museum has a large collection of works from Old Masters and 19th- and 20th-century European and American artists, the Kemper has in recent years begun focusing on contemporary art. The museum was expanded and renovated in 2019 and reopened with a major exhibition from Ai Weiwei; other contemporary artists in the collection include Jackson Pollack and Robert Rauschenberg.

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Illinois

One of the world’s largest contemporary art museums, the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Chicago was established in 1967 and shows off works from 1945 to the present day. Art from such luminaries as Francis Bacon, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol and Chuck Close are part of the museum’s collection, and the museum has previously shown exhibits by Claes Oldenburg, Frida Kahlo and Jeff Koons. The museum’s east- and west-facing facades are glass-walled, giving visitors views of the city of Chicago and Lake Michigan.

John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Wisconsin

Located in downtown Sheboygan near the shores of Lake Michigan, the John Michael Kohler Art Center draws tens of thousands of visitors annually to the facility—itself on the National Register of Historic Places—to dance performances, art exhibits, festivals and more. The center has 10 galleries, a theater, performance spaces, educational/activity spaces, a retail shop and a cafe.

The Kohler Arts Center’s Art Preserve—the world’s first museum devoted to artist-built environments—is scheduled to open in June 2021. The three-story, 56,000-square-foot building will provide exhibition space and storage for the Arts Center’s collection of 25,000-plus works.