New Capitol Art Tour Focuses on Controversial Art; History Center to Feature Native Artists

A painting of Father Hennepin “Discovering” the Falls of St. Anthony now hangs in a 3rd floor space in the Capitol.

The long and contentious debate over art in the Minnesota State Capitol resulted in some victories. Offensive paintings have been relocated within the Capitol or removed altogether. In addition, the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) has started a new tour that focuses on interpreting Capitol art in a new way, including the controversial pieces that remain.

The tour is called Making Meaning of State Capitol Art, and will be held Tuesday, Sept. 12 and Friday, Sept. 29 at the Minnesota State Capitol. Both tours run noon to 1 p.m. According to the announcement, you can: “Explore the varied meanings behind some of the art at the Minnesota State Capitol in a small group dialogue with Joe Horse Capture, director of American Indian Initiatives at MNHS. This is an opportunity to listen to different opinions and share your own story.”

As a reminder, two controversial paintings that hung in the Governor’s Reception Room — one showing Father Hennepin Discovering the Falls at St. Anthony and the other of the 1851 Treaty of Traverse des Sioux, have been moved to a third floor space known as the Cass Gilbert Library. Two other paintings have been removed altogether: The Attack on New Ulm and the Battle of Ta Ha Kouty.

Senate mural: “The Discoverers and Civilizers Led to the Source of the Mississippi.”

The painting of the Battle of New Ulm will be on display at the James J. Hill House, part of the free exhibit, Attack on New Ulm: One Painting, Many Perspectives. Come and share your thoughts about its role in Minnesota history. The exhibit will be on view Sept. 16 – Jan. 14.

A particularly offensive mural remains in the Minnesota Senate Chambers. Called “The Discoverers and Civilizers Led to the Source of the Mississippi” it is a tour de force of Manifest Destiny and flies in the face of our deeply held beliefs in freedom of religion. It remains a complete mystery why our state leaders allowed this painting to remain after the recent renovation. The message it sends is as troubling as the Confederate memorials now being removed in southern states.

History Center Art Opening: “Renewing What They Gave Us,” Native American Artists in Residence

Floral vest by Holly Young, Standing Rock. Young is committed to revitalizing the lesser-known floral form of beadwork once common among the Dakota, Lakota and Métis people of this region. Given the history of Dakota expulsion from Minnesota, this style did not persist long and was nearly forgotten by contemporary Dakota artists until recently.

An upcoming exhibit at the Minnesota History Center will feature five artists from the Upper Midwest. The exhibit will include original beadwork, birch bark and textile artwork, and they will be displayed alongside Historical Society artifacts that inspired them. Exhibit text will be presented in Ojibwe, Dakota and English.

The artists are: Jessica Gokey (Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians), Pat Kruse (Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa), Denise Lajimodiere, (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa), Gwen Westerman (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate), and Holly Young (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe). They created the artwork as part of the Historical Society’s Native American Artist-in-Residence program.

The exhibit opens Saturday, Sept. 23 and will run until Sunday, April 22, 2018. (The exhibit is free with regular History Center admission of $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, veterans/active military and college students, $6 ages 5 to 17, free age 4 and under.

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One thought on “New Capitol Art Tour Focuses on Controversial Art; History Center to Feature Native Artists

  1. I would like to see the native art exhibit at the history center. I would also like to go to the controversial art tour, but I’m guessing it will be pretty busy.

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