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Looking Back/Moving Forward: Recent Acquisitions to the Art Collection

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

On view at the James J. Hill House through April 20, 2008

View of Mendota by Seth Eastman
In addition to interpretation and preservation, a primary responsibility of a curator is to build and expand the collection for which he or she is responsible.

This exhibition highlights some of the more notable acquisitions to the art collection over the last five years. The fifty works included here represent only a percentage of the art that has come to the Minnesota Historical Society and an even smaller fraction of the literally thousands of items acquired by the Society each year.

The title, “Looking Back/Moving Forward” refers to the fact that while the Society collects the art of the past (sometimes the very recent past!) it is always with an eye toward the future. Curators continually evaluate the interpretive value of an object for future generations.

It Takes a Whole Lot of Human Feeling by Rose J SmithAt the Society, not only are we charged with telling the story of our past, we also have a duty to tell the story of our present. That is why along with such 19th century masters as Eastman, Volk and Fournier and such modern masters as Wedin, Brown, Havens and Quirt, you’ll also find tomorrow’s masters such as Smith, Griffiths, Lynch and Swiszcz.

We have all heard the expression “every picture tells a story.” At the Minnesota Historical Society–if we’re lucky–our pictures tell many stories. Interpreting art through a historical context provides opportunities not available to other institutions. At the Society, a work of art becomes a portal through which the viewer can discover unique aspects of Minnesota’s history.

As Minnesota commemorates the 150th anniversary of statehood in 2008, we will acknowledge and celebrate those things that distinguish our state. One of Minnesota’s great accomplishments is its long tradition of art making. It is a mark of excellence for which we should be very proud.

Brian Szott, Curator of Art

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