More than 300 pieces of public art are on display in Minneapolis alone

All photos courtesy of the Minneapolis City Government

By Tammy Galvin

In nearly every neighborhood in and around the Twin Cities, there are public displays of art, from whimsical statues to vibrant murals. We even have art among our bridge railings and stone benches, where subtle, wrought iron medallions and story-telling mosaic tiles are embedded for the discerning eye to find. Indeed, art is everywhere. You just have to look up from your phone long enough to appreciate it.

A public art piece of Saturn in Minneapolis.To help you do so with intention, is sharing our go-to repositories of tours for walking, driving or biking (you choose). Next time you are looking for something to do, try to discover the hidden—and obvious—gems found across Minneapolis and St. Paul.

We’ll start with the City of Minneapolis’ public art collection, perfectly presented via six interactive map tours. Each of these unique tours is geographically organized for anyone to explore at their leisure. For every art piece, you’ll find detailed information about its creation along with directions on how to find it via Google Maps. You can choose to follow the numbered tour order provided, or choose your own order and visit individual artworks that pique your interest. To find out the number of artworks, featured artists and length of each tour, explore this map.

  • For the North Minneapolis Tour with 32 works of art by 12 artists, click here.
  • For the East Minneapolis Tour with 74 works of art by 12 artists, click here.
  • For the downtown Minneapolis Tour with 69 works of art by 32 artists, click here.
  • For the South Minneapolis Tour with 19 works of art by 16 artists, click here.
  • For the Southeast Minneapolis Tour with 45 works of art by 14 artists, click here.
  • For the Southwest Minneapolis Tour with 77 works of art by 16 artists, click here.

Regardless of the Minneapolis region you tour, share your adventures on social media with #TourMplsArt.

But why limit your art viewing to Minneapolis? You can also hop on the METRO Blue or Green Line light rails and station-hop to partake in Metro Transit’s Public Art Program. The integrated public art program supports creativity and innovation in all things, and through the metro light rail stations, the program hopes to marry function with forms that may inspire discovery in otherwise predictable spaces.

The METRO Green Line has 18 stations (plus five shared with the METRO Blue Line) spanning nearly 10 miles between downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis. When visiting the site, simply click a station name to learn more about the public art along the line.

The METRO Blue Line has 19 stations spanning 12 miles between downtown Minneapolis and Mall of America in Bloomington. Again, just click on a station name to learn more about the public art along the line.

A tall, gently curving public art statue has a golden flower blossom at the end of it.We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the Minnesota Percent for Art in Public Places program, which places works of art in and around state buildings in areas that are regularly accessible to the general public. Administered by the Minnesota State Arts Board in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Administration, the program secures artwork in two ways: by purchasing existing work or by commissioning artists to create new work especially for the state building or site.

In order to reflect the rich diversity of Minnesota citizens, the Percent for Art program chooses artwork that represents a wide range of social, cultural and historical values. The work also must be enduring. thought provoking, and fiscally responsible and appropriate for the space. There are completed projects in more than 100 locations around Minnesota, from the International Wolf Center in Ely to the Minnesota Judicial Center in Saint Paul.

Admittedly, Percent for Art is an odd name for an art program—until you understand its genesis. Artwork is purchased with funds provided by Minnesota’s 1984 “Percent for Art” legislation, which encourages state building projects with construction or renovation budgets of $500,000 or more to use up to 1 percent of the total construction budget to purchase or commission original artwork for the site.

Finally, there are two additional sources to guide you on your art-seeking tours. The Hennepin County library system has a searchable database featuring all of the permanent and temporary art displays throughout the region. And the aptly named Start Seeing Art is, perhaps, the most comprehensive map of Twin Cities public art.


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