Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The Minnesota Museum of American Art is sexier than the MIA. The Children's Museum and Science Museum are more likely to hold a child's attention. The Bakken boasts one of Ben Franklin's original glass "armonicas." The Walker's crowd dresses better. We could go on about all the advantages other local museums—including the Bell with its charming dioramas—hold over the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, but who'd care? Over the course of 93 years and nearly 100,000 acquisitions, Minnesota's only encyclopedic art museum has established itself as the metro's most inexhaustible repository of culture. Where else in town can we view a winged demi-god from ancient Assyria, two Rembrandt self-portraits, and Salvador Dali's lobster-topped Aphrodisiac Telephone, all under the same roof? Not that the institute traffics exclusively in the past, by any means: Since 1975, its artist-run Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program has relentlessly showcased work by distinguished artists, established and emerging, from all over the state, including the current collaborative celebration of the museum itself by painter Richard Rock and sound artist Abinadi Meza. Need we mention the slew of special events and educational programs, the D'Amico & Sons-operated café and coffee shop, or the museum shop's considered selection of gifts, books, posters, jewelry, and DVDs? Most important, admission to the facility is always free, and fees for even the biggest exhibitions are consistently reasonable.