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Minnesota Fringe Festival—A Summer Treat!

Posted byAlison Aten on 31 Jul 2015 | Tagged as: Arts

Offstage Voicesfringelogo_dark_on_whitePeg Guilfoyle, whose new book Offstage Voices: Life in Twin Cities Theater, comes out in September, is fond of the Fringe Festival.

“It’s such a scene!” she says. “Performing arts audiences love a kind of under-the-lit-marquee vibe, when people are crowding along a sidewalk toward the box office, standing on the street during intermission, clutching their programs and talking talking talking about the show. The Fringe is perfect for that.”

The Fringe audience, passionate and opinionated, makes for great eavesdropping, especially at Rarig Center on the West Bank of the University, the home of the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance. Rarig contains four different theaters with a total of nearly a thousand seats; its vast and echoing atrium will be jammed with theater-goers, talking among themselves and to strangers about the shows they’ve seen and will see. The building will present forty-four different shows over the ten-day Fringe, none more than an hour. “It’s deafening, and exciting,” says Guilfoyle, “to stand in that space and watch these big audiences surge in and out.” The Fringe also presents shows in twenty other locations in Minneapolis during the festival. Rarig is within easy walking distance of Mixed Blood and Theatre in the Round.

For her new book, Guilfoyle sat down with Fringe executive director Jeff Larson, who was clear about the unique nature of the Fringe experience.

“We have a lot of people who take off work and see fifty-five shows—that’s the maximum you can see on our schedule. These people get more and more excited every year and they talk about it year round.

“We’re growing the audience,” Larson goes on. “We’re a gateway drug. The tickets are inexpensive, it’s easy, you can dress however you want. Theater is not intimidating; it’s not something you should do to better yourself. It’s just another form of entertainment. We’re getting that idea into people’s heads.”

Larson adds that post-show conversation is built into the Fringe Festival experience: “What you want is the kind of work that you’ll talk about at the bar afterward. The fantastic and the terrible really stick with you, and you cannot wait to get to the bar and say, ‘Did you see that?!’ We tell the artists to invite your audience to meet you at the bar; the bar is just as important to the festival as any of the art is.”

“The Fringe is a great way to experience our wide and wonderful Twin Cities theater community,” says Guilfoyle, whose new book includes interviews with forty leading artists from directors to actors to designers. “An incredible variety of work, presented at an incredible speed. What a summer treat!”

“Civil War Homecoming”, March 28 at the Fitzgerald Theater

Posted byAlison Aten on 23 Mar 2015 | Tagged as: Arts, Authors, History


Saturday, March 28 at 7:00 P.M.
Fitzgerald Theater

The year 1865 saw inauguration, abolition, armistice, assassination, grief, celebration and reunion. The brand-new frontier state of Minnesota mourned and commemorated along with the rest of the nation. Minnesotans celebrated the return of the troops and got down to the business of building railroads and cities, sprinkling the countryside with farms and lumber camps and welcoming immigrants by the tens of thousands.

Dan Chouinard and an all-star group of friends gather to paint a Minnesota portrait of the times through songs, letters and newspaper accounts, in Civil War Homecoming. This live show at the Fitzgerald Theater on Saturday, March 28 is a co-production of the Minnesota Historical Society, MPR and the Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force.

Featuring Kevin Kling, Maria Jette, T Mychael Rambo, Prudence Johnson, members of the Roe Family Singers, and the Brass Messengers as well as Eric Jacobson, Annette Atkins, Gwen Westerman, Mark Ritchie, Dean Urdahl, Pat Bauer and David Geister.

Additional information available here.

Interested in learning more about Minnesota and the Civil War? Visit www.mnhs.org/civilwar

Book Launch Celebration & HowlRound LiveStream Tonight for “All the Lights On: Reimagining Theater with Ten Thousand Things”

Posted byAlison Aten on 09 Mar 2015 | Tagged as: Arts, Authors, Event, Videos

“This book tells the story of one of the most vital and important theater companies of our time.”
Oskar Eustis, The Public Theater

Join us tonight for the Book Launch Celebration at Open Book in Minneapolis for:

All the Lights On: Reimagining Theater with Ten Thousand Things by Michelle Hensley

Monday, March 9, 2015
Open Book: 1011 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis
Doors open at 6:30 pm, short program begins at 7:00 pm, followed by book signing

Also available via HowlRoundTV today at 5pm Pacific / 8pm Eastern via http://livestream.com/newplay

All the Lights On Michelle Hensley

“Ten Thousand Things brings the best possible theater, plays of Shakespeare and Aeschylus and Beckett, to audiences who have seen little of it before, those in prisons and shelters and adult education centers and rural towns and housing projects and Indian reservations and chemical dependency treatment centers, as well as to enthusiastic veteran theatergoers in consistently sold-out performances for the general public, all performed in large bare rooms, with no stage, just right on the floor inside a small circle of folding chairs, with all the fluorescent lights in the room turned on. Our budget is modest, we don’t need our own building, our set supply budget is little more than that of our very first show, but we pay our highly skilled artists on a par with the largest theater companies in town. We have even become Johnny Appleseeds of a sort, taking this unique model to other theaters around the country who are also eager to find ways to reach outside their buildings with excellent work. And all along this journey, the honest, openhearted encounters of our first-time audiences with our first-rate artists have led us to make wonderful discoveries about theater—pinpointing just what makes it thrive and flourish.” Michelle Hensley, from All the Lights On

Crafty Kids

Posted byAlison Aten on 11 Dec 2014 | Tagged as: Arts, Children

9780873519199Do you have a crafty kid on your holiday gift list? Keep them busy with our new craft book for kids:

Making History: Have a Blast with 15 Crafts

The book features projects that celebrate Minnesota’s history and people. It includes crafts at four different skill levels, step-by-step instructions, free templates, and 180 color photos.

Imagine soldiers on the Civil War battlefield as you assemble a “housewife” sewing kit like those made by wives and mothers. Re-create the drama of a midwestern tornado when you build an automaton that actually spins, and celebrate the invention of water-skiing with a boat and skier that really glide.

Step-by-step instructions carefully guide you to make your own marionette, but it’s up to you to stage the puppet show. The playful miniature scene of a Day of the Dead nicho offers a way to honor a loved one. A woodland hike will provide the twigs and leaves to make a troll. A walking stick in the tradition of folk artist Maurice Carlton inspires you to create art out of what you can find.

These projects and more generate hours of fun, not to mention useful pieces you’ll want to share with your family and friends.

north-woods-troll-from-making-history-have-a-blast-with-15-crafts twister-tornado-from-making-history-have-a-blast-with-15-crafts paul-bunyan-action-toy-from-making-history-have-a-blast-with-15-crafts minnesota-trapper-hat-construction-from-making-history-have-a-blast-with-15-crafts minnesota-trapper-hat-from-making-history-have-a-blast-with-15-craftsmetal-foil-repousse-pendant-from-making-history-have-a-blast-with-15-crafts

Minnesota in the ’70s Documentary Nominated for an Upper Midwest Emmy®!

Posted byAlison Aten on 19 Aug 2014 | Tagged as: Arts, Awards, History, Videos


Minnesota in the ’70s, our documentary co-produced with Twin Cities Public Television’s Minnesota Productions & Partnerships (tptMN),  is nominated for a 2014 Upper Midwest Emmy® Award by the Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in the Historic/Cultural/Nostalgic category!

More about the project:

The 1970s were more than big hair, mirror balls, and leisure suits. These were the years that bridged the chasm between the anti-establishment tumult of the 1960s and the morning-in-America conservatism of the 1980s. In Minnesota, this evolution unfolded in ways that defied expectations. No longer was Minnesota merely a vague, snow-covered outpost in the American consciousness. It was a place of note and consequence—a state of presidential candidates, grassroots activism, civic engagement, environmental awareness, and Mary Tyler Moore. Its governor appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Its city skylines shot up with uncharacteristic immodesty. Its farmers enjoyed some of their best years ever. Minnesota forged an identity during the 1970s that would persist, rightly or wrongly, for decades to come.

This is the second nomination for an MNHS Press/tptMN co-production. Last year, our Asian Flavors documentary won an Upper Midwest Emmy® in the Cultural category!

One Minneapolis One Read Artist-in-Residency Program and Exhibit Explore the Legacy of Gordon Parks and Contemporary African-American Life

Posted byAlison Aten on 21 Oct 2013 | Tagged as: African American, Arts, Event, History

One Minneapolis One ReadA Choice of Weapons

As part of the One Minneapolis One Read program, a new exhibit opens this week at Mill City Museum and Juxtaposition Arts with a panel discussion and opening reception on Oct. 24, 6-9 pm at Mill City Museum.

The panelists will include:

Archie Givens, President, The Givens Foundation for African American Literature
Robin Hickman, Founder, SoulTouch Productions’ In the Footsteps of Gordon Parks Legacy Initiative and a great-niece of Gordon Parks
Wing Young Huie, photographer
Jahliah HollomanJuxtaposition apprentice
Moderator: Daniel Bergin, TPT

Minneapolis residents will have a unique opportunity to view a collection of photos by Gordon Parks and join in a community conversation around his book A Choice of Weapons, this year’s One Minneapolis One Read selection.

The exhibit will also feature approximately 30 photographs created by Minneapolis high school students alongside images by Parks, on loan from The Gordon Parks Foundation.

Taking inspiration from the book, the students worked with acclaimed photographer Jamel Shabazz at Juxtaposition Arts to create their own photographs. Shabazz will work with the students in early October during a week-long artist residency. (See feature in TC Daily Planet!)

For more information about these and other events visit the One Minneapolis One Read website.

About the Artist-in-Residence

Shabazz is an award winning photographer based in Brooklyn, NY, who has drawn influence from Gordon Parks, James Van Der Zee, Robert Capa, Chester Higgins and Eli Reed. Shabazz is also known for his community based youth work.

About the book A Choice of Weapons by Gordon Parks

One Read’s goals are to promote through literature and discussion a better understanding of race and the impacts of racism on our communities. A Choice of Weapons is a compelling autobiography, first published in 1966, about how Parks struggled against extreme poverty to find his purpose as a photographer, writer, director and musician.

A Minnesotan who developed an impressive artistic legacy that included an extensive photographic body of work, Parks documented important African-American political, artistic, cultural figures as well as daily life.

A Choice of Weapons is available in paperback at local independent and chain bookstores, online booksellers and MHS Press. It’s also available through the Hennepin County Library.

About One Minneapolis One Read

One Minneapolis One Read is presented by The City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County Library and Minneapolis Public Schools to promote literacy and respectful public dialogue. Minneapolis residents can play a positive role in their communities and explore important – sometimes difficult – issues that they face as a community by reading A Choice of Weapons and getting involved.

At its heart, One Minneapolis One Read is a community-driven effort with individuals, neighborhood groups, educators, businesses and nonprofits all coming together to make this a truly citywide read. Read the book. Join the Conversation.

One Minneapolis One Read is a collaboration of The City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County Library and Minneapolis Public Schools with support from Clear Channel Outdoor, Comcast, Gray Plant Mooty, Mill City Museum, Minnesota Historical Society Press, Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), Pillsbury House Theatre and The YWCA of Minneapolis.

About Juxtaposition Arts

Juxtaposition Arts is a youth contemporary arts program, teen-staffed design firm and nonprofit cultural development center that anchors a diverse neighborhood in North Minneapolis.

Juxtaposition’s mission is to develop community by engaging and employing young urban artists in hands-on education initiatives that create pathways to self-sufficiency while actualizing creative power. We envision the youth of north Minneapolis entering the creative workforce as dynamic innovators and problem solvers with the confidence, skills, and connections they need to accomplish their goals and contributed to the revitalization of the communities where they live and work.

Juxtaposition believes that the creative genius of youth is an underutilized community asset. Since 1995, the organization has nurtured connections between underserved Twin Cities’ youth and artists and the region’s vibrant art and design communities.

About the Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. The Society collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, the Society preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.


“Asian Flavors” wins Upper Midwest Regional Emmy® Award

Posted byAlison Aten on 01 Oct 2013 | Tagged as: Arts, Asian American, Awards, Cooking, Food, History, Immigration, MHS press

Regional Emmy® Award Courtesy of Twin Cities Public Television Raghavan Iyer with Regional Emmy® Award Asian Flavors documentary team

Our Asian Flavors documentary, co-produced with tptMN, won the 2013 Upper Midwest Regional Emmy® Award from the Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) in the Cultural Documentary category.

Inspired by the book Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875 by Phyllis Louise Harris with Raghavan Iyer, this thirty-minute documentary celebrates Asian immigrants who have left an indelible and flavorful mark on Minnesota’s culinary, cultural, and economic history.

Congratulations to a winning team!

The Asian Flavors team:

Daniel Pierce Bergin, Producer/Director
Angela Barrett, Production Assistant
Fanique Weeks-Kelley, Production Manager
Jim Kron, Director of Photography
Jerry Lakso, Online Editor
Bob Tracy, Executive in Charge
Pamela McClanahan, Project Consultant
Phyllis Louise Harris, Co-writer/Project Consultant
Raghavan Iyer, Presenter
Shari Lamke, Senior Director-Supervising Producer
Lucy Swift, Vice President, MN Productions & Partnerships
Terry O’Reilly, Chief Content Officer

A Choice of Weapons is One Minneapolis One Read Selection

Posted byAlison Aten on 12 Apr 2013 | Tagged as: African American, Arts

A Choice of Weapons

We are honored to have one of our books selected as the One Minneapolis One Read title for 2013. This year’s selection is A Choice of Weapons by Gordon Parks. (Last year’s was Spirit Car by Diane Wilson, also published by MHS Press.)

For more information on the One Minneapolis One Read program, please visit


About the book:

This compelling autobiography, first published in 1966, tells how Parks managed to escape the poverty and bigotry around him and launch his distinguished career by choosing the weapons given him by “a mother who placed love, dignity, and hard work over hatred.”

In 2010 we re-released the book with a new foreword by Wing Young Huie.

Gordon Parks (1912–2006)-–photographer for Life magazine, writer, composer, artist, and filmmaker-–was only sixteen in 1928 when he moved from Kansas to St. Paul, Minnesota, after his mother’s death. There, homeless and hungry, he began his fight to survive, to educate himself, and to “prove my worth.” Working as a janitor, railroad porter, musician, or basketball player in such places as St. Paul, Chicago, and New York, Parks struggled against poverty and racism. He taught himself photography with a secondhand camera, worked for black newspapers, and began to document the poverty among African Americans on Chicago’s South Side. Then his photographic work brought him to Washington, DC, as first a photographer with the federal Farm Security Administration and later a war correspondent during World War II.

Go If You Think It Your Duty, a Play About Love During the Civil War

Posted byAlison Aten on 28 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: Arts, Authors, Civil War, Event, History

Madison and Lizzie Bowler

War can strain the bonds of love. No one understood that better than Minnesotans Madison and Lizzie Bowler. During the American Civil War, Madison and Lizzie courted, married, became parents, and bought a farm. They attended dances, talked politics, and confided their deepest fears. Because of the war, however, they experienced all of these events separately, sharing them through hundreds of letters. Discover how Madison and Lizzie maintained their steadfast commitment to one another, even as they struggled to balance extraordinary duty and distance with ordinary life and love in time of war.

Written by Minnesota playwright Victoria Stewart, this original play is based on the Bowlers’ letters, held in the Minnesota Historical Society’s collection and published in the 2008 MHS Press book Go If You Think It Your Duty by Andrea R. Foroughi. It  is directed by Ivey Award-winner Craig Johnson, with popular and award-winning local actors Peter Hansen, Anna Sundberg, Dietrich Poppen, and Abby DeSanto. The play features live performances of Civil War-era music with original musical direction by James Lekatz.

There are two show times: Saturday, April 6, at 2 p.m. or Tuesday, April 9, at 7 p.m. Cost is $15 or $11 for MHS members. Advance purchase is required and can be made by calling 651-259-3015 or online.

This program is made possible with support from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, voted into law by the people of Minnesota in 2008.

More information on upcoming Civil War-related events and programs.

Minnesota and the Civil War Exhibit

Tweeting the Civil War

“Saint Paul/Imniźa Ska: A Dakota Place” Exhibit at Black Dog

Posted byAlison Aten on 07 Dec 2012 | Tagged as: Arts, Native American

From Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the DakotaOrder your beverage of choice at Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar while shopping at The Lowertown Neighborhood Holiday Bazaar happening tonight and tomorrow and view the “Saint Paul/Imniza Ska–A Dakota Place” exhibit at the cafe.

Based on the book, Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota by Gwen Westerman and Lowertown resident, Bruce White, the exhibit features a ceiling high mural by Owen McBride Platt depicting the history of the Dakota people in St. Paul.

Stay tuned for more info on events related to the exhibit.

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