BEST MUSEUM Minneapolis 2004 - Walker Art Center
725 Vineland Place
Minneapolis, MN 55403
The St. Paul kid-thrillers are more hands-on than the Walker. The Weisman is prettier, the American Swedish Institute more opulent. MIA guards have better uniforms. Even the modestly funded Bell Museum of Natural History surpasses the WAC in one respect: It has dioramas. But sculptor Ed Kienholz's Portrait of a Mother with Past Affixed, from the Walker's permanent collection, works like a diorama in a way that's more mysterious, more profound. Plus, you can walk all the way around it and peek through the door of this toolshed-sized house at the plaster mom and her accumulated belongings. The construction is spooky, sad, and just a little bit lurid--in a satisfying way. We wouldn't want this house to be any larger--but the museum that houses it has swallowed the pill that makes things bigger. With a little luck, we'll soon see more of Portrait and its peers in the permanent collection that have been in and out of storage. The Walker will soon be opening its own ultrahypermegacomplex. But we've hardly had occasion to grouse before this point. Thanks to the Walker, the past 12 moons have seen us rock with Wilco, scratch our heads to Lee Ranaldo, and marvel at the surreal escapades of Big Dance Theater. And with its porcine building, grassy seating, and convertible coat-tent combo, the design show titled "Strangely Familiar" offered more nourishment for our hungry imaginations than Rupert Murdoch and company provide in a fortnight. With its unrivaled performing arts programming, globalist vision, education efforts, and mini-golf, the Walker has long tentacles that reach far out into the community. That's right, mini-golf is coming to the sculpture garden. Fore!