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Big Ben

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Big Ben

“Big Ben” oil on canvas made by Minnesota artist Scott Lloyd Anderson in 2008.

For details, view this painting in our collections database.

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“Descriptive Study/Greg” by Jerry Rudquist

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

“Descriptive Study/Greg” by Jerry Rudquist

Large oil on board painting made by Minnesota artist Jerry Rudquist in 1990.

For details, view this painting in our collections database.

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“Itasca State Park” by Francis Meisch

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

“Itasca State Park” by Francis Meisch

Etching on paper by Francis Meisch, 1937.

For details, view this etching in our collections database.

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“Steel and Stone” by Robert Edwards

Monday, June 24th, 2013

“Steel and Stone” by Robert EdwardsSteel and Stone by Robert Edwards

Gouache on board painting of the Chicago Great Western Railway Bridge and the Robert Street Bridge in downtown St. Paul, 1987.

For details, view this painting in our collections database.

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Ded Unk’Unpi: We Are Here Exhibit Acquisitions

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

The Minnesota Historical Society strives to make history relevant to the lives of contemporary Minnesotans. One of the ways in which the Society carries out this mission is by collecting and caring for materials that document the stories of Minnesota’s peoples.  In 2012, the Minnesota Historical Society and the Native American Community Development Institute with All My Relations Art sponsored the Ded Unk’unpi : We Are Here art exhibit. As 2012 marked the 150th year since the U.S. – Dakota War of 1862, twenty participating American Indian artists shared their reflections on the war and related events, as well as on this “commemorative” year.

As the Ded Unk’unpi : We Are Here exhibit came to a close, the Society’s Collections department was privileged to acquire for its permanent collections eight of these works. Many of the artworks themselves document the historic events of the War and its immediate and extended aftermath, including the subsequent mass execution in Mankato and Dakota removal to Crow Creek. But the artworks also serve somewhat as documents in-and-of-themselves; to be “read” by future Minnesotans in order to better understand this point in time -2012 – and the powerful and complicated emotions, artistic visions, and scholarship of today. Consisting of both traditional and contemporary media, prevailing themes found throughout the pieces include the regaining of cultural strength, the healing of wounds, and the honoring of relatives.

In the ledger art piece, For Every Great Man, There is a Great Woman, 2012, artist Avis Charley depicts three generations of Dakota women moving westward across the plains. A noticeable absence of men may allude not only to the strength of these women, but to the fact that many Dakota men (even those who did not participate in the War), were held as prisoners for years following 1862. In her artist statement, she writes, “The women represent different generations and the virtues of our Dakota values. These values are courage, honesty, perseverance, and generosity and the message will be about healing, moving forward, and empowering ourselves as Dakota women despite the trauma in our history.”

For Every Great Man, There is a Great Woman, 2012
Avis Charley
color pencil and acrylic on paper
AV2012.7

On December 26th 1862, following six weeks of war, thirty-eight Dakota men were hanged in Mankato, Minnesota – a hanging that remains the largest one-day execution in American history.  Among these men was Wicaŋḣpi Wastedaŋpi, or Good Little Stars. Within the Dakota culture, each child born has a public name which denotes their birth order, and first born males are called Caske (Cha-SKAY).  Wicaŋḣpi Wastedaŋpi, among many others, often answered to his public name of Caske.

Wicaŋḣpi Wastedaŋpi and his family protected Sarah Wakefield, the wife of a doctor from the Upper Sioux Agency, and her children during the war. In spite of protests and professions of his innocence by Mrs. Wakefield, he was sentenced to death, and she ostracized for her efforts to protect him.  There are conflicting accounts of whether or not this man was hanged by mistake or whether his execution was deliberate.  One version of the story purports that because there were multiple Caskes imprisoned, Wicaŋḣpi Wastedaŋpi simply answered the executioner’s call by mistake. A closer inspection of the historical record proves this version to be oversimplified and perhaps superficial.

Today, to many Dakota people, Wicaŋḣpi Wastedaŋpi represents a martyr or a lost hero. It can be seen that for his efforts in protecting other human lives, his only reward was a vindictive frontier justice. Through her piece Caske’s Pardon, Gwen Westerman offers a prayer for his federal pardon.

Caske’s Pardon, 2012
Gwen Westerman
Quilt: 100% commercial and hand- dyed cotton; glass, beads, hemp, and paper embellishments
AV2012.11

James Star Comes Out created his piece, 1862 Sung Ite Ha, and other similar pieces, with the goal of revitalizing the art of horse regalia in his home community of Pine Ridge. He writes that “in doing so, I believe that it will be beneficial to all, as it will exemplify the beauty of Lakota culture and in return it will encourage, motivate and revive a centuries-old art form.” This piece was created as a tribute, to honor the 38 men that were hanged in Mankato in 1862.


1862 Sung Ite Ha, 2012
James Star Comes Out
cotton fabric, brass spots, brass bells, beads, tin cones, goose feathers, red fluffs, turkey feathers, and mirrors
AV2012.8.A,B

These pieces, along with others by well-known artists Jim Denomie, Julie Buffalohead, Maggie Thompson, Jodi Webster and Dwayne Wilcox were formally added to the Society’s permanent collections in 2012. To view these and other artworks, visit our collections online database here.

Ben Gessner
Collections Associate, American Indian & Fine Art Collections

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Parking Lot Near Train Tracks – Minneapolis, by Michael Banning

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Parking Lot Near Train Tracks - Minneapolis, by Michael Banning

Oil on panel painting titled “Parking Lot Near Train Tracks – Minneapolis” made in 2006 by Michael Banning.

For details, view this painting in our collections database.

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Famous Minnesota Beards

Friday, June 7th, 2013

In support of all the Minnesotans competing in the Border Battles Facial Hair Competition, sponsored by The Minneapolis Beard and Moustache Club on June 8, 2013, the Minnesota Historical Society presents a selection of some our favorite beards of Minnesota’s past.

Portrait of Harry Wild Jones

This is a portrait of Harry Wild Jones who was an influential Minneapolis architect and lover of goatees. He is credited with introducing the Shingle Style of architecture to Minneapolis and is probably best known as the designer of the Lakewood Cemetery Chapel and the Washburn Park Water Tower.

The man in this ambrotype portrait is John Harrington Stevens, an early settler of what would become Minneapolis and member of the first state legislature. You can admire his beard in person by visiting a statue of him located in Minnehaha Park.

As you can guess from the photograph, this is William B. Mitchell. Minnesota Supreme Court Judge, namesake of the William Mitchell College of Law and moustache aficionado.

William Watts Folwell, in addition to having a rather contemplative beard, was the first president of the University of Minnesota and has a building on the East Bank campus named after him.

This tintype portrait, circa 1880, is of Judson A. Bly a miller who lived and worked in Forestville, Minnesota. Forestville is now a ghost town located in Forestville State Park and is still reportedly haunted by Bly’s Hulihee style beard.

The man with all the medals on his chest and hair on his lip is Lucius F. Hubbard. He was an orphan who moved to Red Wing, Minnesota at the age of 21. He joined the 5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry at the outbreak of the Civil War and in 1881 he was elected governor. The Minnesota county of Hubbard is named after him.

The man with the sideburns is Dorilus Morrison, the first (and third) mayor of Minneapolis and founder the Northwestern National Bank of Minneapolis which would later become Wells Fargo.

Last but not least, this photograph made by a Minneapolis Star-Tribune photographer in 1937 shows the world famous professional wrestler Farmer Tobin taking in a relaxing game of golf in Minnesota between bouts. He combined a 6 foot 7 inch frame with a tattoo collection and massive beard to make a formidable wrestling persona.

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“Spring” woodcut by Eugene Larkin

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

“Spring” by Eugene Larkin. Color woodblock on paper, circa 1966.

Gift of the Crump Family in Memory of Bob and Pat Kennedy Crump.

For details, view this woodcut in our collections database.

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“Common Shooting Star” by John Berglund

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

A watercolor painting of the Common Shooting Star prairie wildflower made by John Berglund for the WPA Federal Art project in 1938.

For details, view this watercolor in our collections database.

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Ruth Tanbara triptych

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Ruth Tanbara triptych

Acrylic on canvas triptych celebrating the life of Ruth Nomura Tanbara. Tanbara was a central figure in the Twin Cities’ Japanese-American community for more than four decades, serving as St. Paul’s YWCA adult education director and international program director from 1942-1972 and helping to found the St. Paul-Nagasaki Sister City Committee. During World War II, Tanbara helped more than 100 Japanese American evacuees of West coast internment camps find homes in the Twin Cities. The commemorative artwork was made by HIRO in 2005.

For details, view the triptych in our online collections database.

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