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Walker Art Center Announces $75 Million Project

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This year, the Walker Art Center is celebrating its 75th anniversary. The number 75 comes into play for the museum in more than one way this year, however, as it recently announced that it will be renovating and expanding its building, outside areas, and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in what will be an extensive, $75 million project.

"As we mark our 75th year, we are thrilled to commence plans to realize a fully integrated vision for the Walker's and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden's 19-acre campus," says executive director Olga Viso via press release. "It is a once-a-generation moment to shape one of the key gateways to Minneapolis's downtown cultural district through the integration of art and landscape."

So what's changing? Quite a lot. The Walker released some mock-ups of what they plan to do.

Lots of outside areas will be getting greener. The steps that face Hennepin Avenue will be replaced with a sculpture and some grass. The large hill on the East side, which normally hosts events like Rock the Garden, International Cat Video Film Fest, and Open Lawn will remain, although groupings of trees and other flora will be added in patches. The patio cafe will be expanded, and a new entrance pavilion will greet guests who enter from Vineland Place.

The layout of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden will be changing a bit as well, allowing for the 40-artwork collection to grow. The general idea is to link all of these areas into a campus where things flow easily from the museum and the gardens to the downtown arts and theater corridor that the City of Minneapolis has planned.

So, how will this be funded? So far the Walker Art Center has raised $49.8 million from private-sector contributions, including hefty donations from from Margaret and Angus Wurtele, and the Pohlad family. As for the Sculpture Garden, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board working on that through an $8.5 million allocation from the state and a $1.5 million grant from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization. The remainder of that $75 million goal will be raised during the project through private contributions.

The new hill and patio area along Vineland Place

The new hill and patio area along Vineland Place

Both efforts will kick off in September 2015. Museum renovations to be finished in 2016, and the Sculpture Gardens work to be complete in the spring of 2017. See more images of planned redesign below.