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Archive for October, 2008

Individual Beliefs, Communities of Faith

Friday, October 31st, 2008

To compliment the Vatican Splendors exhibit, come see a new display of material from the MHS collection in the Library Lobby. Individual Beliefs, Communities of Faith highlights Protestant churches, Judaism, Native American spirituality, and the faiths of Minnesota’s most recent immigrants. Take a look…you can’t miss the pulpit chair! This will be on view until late December.

Boys' Choir, St. Clement's Church, Saint Paul

Boys' Choir, St. Clement's Church, Saint Paul

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The Younger Brothers: After the Attempted Robbery

Monday, October 13th, 2008

Everyone knows the story of the attempted bank robbery in Northfield by the James-Younger gang, when the townspeople rose up to defend their bank and thwarted the infamous would-be robbers. The gang fled the scene and split up; however, the Younger Brothers were captured later near Madelia, Minnesota. Government Records Specialist Charlie Rodgers tells the story of what happened to the brothers after their capture in this podcast.

 
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Modern American Regionalism

Friday, October 10th, 2008

Often, my favorite things are our most recent acquisition. This is certainly the case this time. These three untitled watercolors by renowned Minnesota artist Mike Lynch (b. 1938) were just acquired in September of this year. Lynch’s realist painting style is rooted in American Regionalism of the 1920s and 30s. His subjects include the urban landscapes and small town streets painted at dusk or dawn. Completed in the mid-1980s, two of the paintings capture familiar scenes of St. Paul, and the third depicts the beach in Grand Marais. All three paintings represent Mike Lynch at his absolute best and we are thrilled to include them in Historical Society’s collection of more than 6,000 works of art.

This is the second important acquisition of Lynch’s work in recent years.  In 2002, Lynch completed a major commission for the Minnesota Percent for Art in Public Places Program. The ten-foot by eighteen-foot painting View of St. Paul from Indian Mounds Park is located in the Stassen Office Building in St. Paul. MHS acquired an archive of more that 50 items that document in detail the artist’s step-by-step process of its creation.

Mike Lynch was born in Hibbing, Minnesota in 1938. He studied painting and drawing with Birney Quick at the Grand Marais Art Colony and attended the Minneapolis College of Art. Over the past thirty years, Lynch has exhibited throughout Minnesota, including solo exhibitions at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and group shows at the Minnesota Museum of American Art, Duluth Art Institute, and Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Lynch has been awarded artist fellowships from the McKnight and Bush Foundations, as well as the Minnesota State Arts Board.  In 2003, Lynch received the McKnight Foundation Distinguished Artist Award.

Brian Szott, Curator of Art

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The City Beautiful

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

Another one of those beautiful “must have” Minnesota books is:
Edward H. Bennett. Plan of Minneapolis: Prepared Under the Direction of the Civic Commission… Edited and Written by Andrew Wright Crawford. Minneapolis: Civic Commission, 1917.

In 1909, Daniel Burnham [chief architect for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and the subject of the 2003 bestseller, The Devil in the White City] and Edward Bennett published their Plan of Chicago. It was dubbed “Paris on the Prairie” by wags who couldn’t help but notice the influence of the École des Beaux-Arts where Bennett studied from 1895-1902. Also in 1909, a Civic Commission was formed to discuss a city plan for Minneapolis, consisting of a dozen Minneapolis organizations from the Woman’s Club to the Trades and Labor Assembly. They hired Bennett, who as Chicago’s chief proponent of The City Beautiful Movement believed that cities could be “White” like the Columbian Exposition and that people would be uplifted through their contact with art and beauty and order.

The author and editor of this work, Crawford, always gets short shrift so let me rectify that. He was a lawyer and art connoisseur who is most often associated with his hometown Philadelphia. Crawford was civically active with a strong interest in city planning and in the development of city parks. His interests made him the perfect choice to author Bennett’s Plan of Minneapolis. Crawford’s avocational interest in architecture earned him an honorary membership in the American Institute of Architects. For a bit of his prose and the rationale for the plan, let me present a few lines from Chapter 1 “The Coming Metropolis:”

  • Minneapolis is the commercial and officially designated financial capitol of an empire greater in size than Great Brittan, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Switzerland combined.
  • Minneapolis is now a large city. The greater city that the future is so surely and so swiftly bringing must be a more economic, a more convenient, a happier and a more generally beautiful city.
  • City planning is the exercise of municipal imagination. It is the scientific and expert vision of inevitable city growth, and the preparation of plans to provide for that growth. It is municipal prevision, municipal prevention and municipal preparedness. (bloggers note: The 3MP’s of planners?)

Ultimately very little of the Plan [of which 1,000 were printed and distributed] could be implemented because, in spite of the emphasis on science and imagination, none of the planners anticipated the most important shaper of 20th century American municipalities: the automobile. Still, it seems to me that they anticipated a refocus on the riverfront by 70 years and had countless other ideas that we might wish had been implemented.

I hate giving this much attention to Minneapolis, so allow me to mention the less grandious but 11 years earlier St. Paul eqivilant, Report of the Capitol Approaches Commission to the Common Council of the City of St. Paul, 1906. This would be another fine addition to a complete Minnesota book collection but at 31 pages we can not nominate it for our list of best books.

I would love to hear from architects, city planners, and the Met Council on our selection of Bennett’s work for our greatest Minnesota books list. Does anyone think about the issuses raised by the Plan? Know about this book? Study it? Still look at it from time to time? Click on “Comment” and let us know.

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An Ounce of Preservation: A Guide to the Care of Papers and Photographs