During the past 12 months, hundreds of local, national, and international supporters enabled the Walker Art Center to provide exceptional visual art exhibitions, engaging film and performing arts programs, imaginative new-media projects, innovative education programs, and wonderful activities in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. While space prevents me from adequately thanking everyone for their heartwarming intellectual and financial support of the Walker, I would like to single out some contributors for their extraordinary generosity.

In October 1998, The Pew Charitable Trusts awarded the Walker a $500,000 grant to support Artists and Communities at the Crossroads, a multiyear series of artist residencies and related education programs designed to more deeply engage the diverse residents living in the neighborhoods surrounding the museum. Highlights of the second year of this exciting new initiative included extended artist residencies conducted with visual artists Glenn Ligon and Nari Ward, choreographers Joanna Haigood and Bill T. Jones, and filmmaker Craig Baldwin. All of these artists worked closely with community partners to create new work. Pew funding also supported two new installations in the Andersen Window Gallery and allowed us to launch our highly successful new Free Thursdays program, which has increased our Thursday attendance by 84 percent.

With funding provided by a three-year, $1,000,000 grant awarded by The Bush Foundation in March 1999, the Walker began the Bush Global Initiative last fall. A global advisory committee, which includes artists and curators from Brazil, China, Japan, South Africa, and Turkey, traveled to Minneapolis twice to meet with Walker curators and programmers to discuss and critique the Walker’s global programs. Additional funding from The Bush Foundation was used to support the exhibition Let’s Entertain, the world premiere performance of Forgiveness, and the Sins of Change media arts conference. The Bush Global Initiative is a critical component in our efforts to better reflect contemporary artistic practices and develop new programs in response to the shifting demographics of our own community.

During the fall, the Walker was fortunate to receive important grants from three special funders. In September 1999, it was awarded a prestigious General Operating Support Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the only federal agency especially devoted to museums and libraries. The IMLS received 973 applications and only made 186 awards. A review panel that examined the Walker’s application commented positively on every facet of the museum’s operations and programs and noted that “the Walker is a lively, progressive institution very aware of its community, its unique resources, and the special challenges of modern art.” A month later, the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation gave the Walker a grant to fund the conservation of postwar art in the museum’s collection. This unsolicited grant was only the second one that the Foundation has ever made to a museum for conservation programs. The third grant was from Save America’s Treasures Historic Preservation Fund for conservation treatment of several of the Walker’s sculptures, including the popular Spoonbridge and Cherry.

Visitors were fortunate to be able to see 16 exceptional exhibitions at the Walker during the past fiscal year. During the summer, the museum featured Edward Ruscha: Editions 1959–1999, a major retrospective of the Los Angeles–based artist’s prints, books, and graphic works. The exhibition was made possible by generous support from Lannan Foundation, Dayton’s Frango® Fund, the Broad Art Foundation, Goldman, Sachs & Co., and the Douglas S. Cramer Foundation. The award-winning exhibition catalogue raisonné was made possible, in part, by the Richard Florsheim Art Fund.

In July, the Walker held the world premiere of Matthew Barney Cremaster 2: The Drones’ Exposition. This film and accompanying sculptural installation attracted critics from Time, Newsweek, and other periodicals, and was made possible by generous gifts from Pitti Immagine, Peggy and Ralph Burnet, and Astrup Fearnley Museum for Modern Art, Oslo. Andy Warhol Drawings, 1942–1987 opened in August; our seventh-highest-attended exhibition, it averaged 2,083 visitors daily. The fanciful exhibition was organized by The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, and the Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland. The Minneapolis presentation of the show was made possible by generous support from Dayton’s community-giving initiative, Project Imagine.

In September, the Walker opened a new installation of its permanent collection that features works by more than 60 artists. Tracing the shifts in art-making practices begun by artists in the 1950s, the exhibition also documents the increasingly global, diverse, and multidisciplinary art world those artists inspired. Art in Our Time: 1950 to the Present was made possible by generous contributions from Jeanne and Richard Levitt and Norwest Bank Minnesota. The new Andersen Window Gallery, which also opened in September, was made possible by funds from Andersen Corporation. Additional support for the gallery was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Betlach Family Foundation. The gallery was designed in partnership with Blu Dot Design, Minneapolis.

During October, the Walker held the world premiere of 2000 BC: THE BRUCE CONNER STORY PART II. This ambitious exhibition, which is touring to museums in Fort Worth, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, was named “Best Single Artist Show” in City Pages’ “Best of the Twin Cities” edition. The Walker received generous gifts from Ann Hatch, Lannan Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Ann and Barrie Birks, and the Rene and Veronica di Rosa Foundation in support of the exhibition. The catalogue was made possible in part by the Richard Florsheim Art Fund, Paula Z. Kirkeby, Kohn Turner Gallery, Los Angeles, Curt Marcus Gallery, New York, and Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco. Restoration and preservation costs for Conner’s film BREAKAWAY were provided by the American Film Institute Film Preservation Challenge Grant.

Drawn in part from the Walker’s permanent collection and a range of private collections, The Nature of Abstraction: Joan Mitchell Paintings, Drawings, and Prints opened in November and proved to be a crowd pleaser. Mitchell was one of the most significant painters associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement. The exhibition was made possible by a generous gift from Joanne and Philip Von Blon, longtime Walker supporters and friends with Mitchell for many years.

Two months later, the Walker opened Let’s Entertain, a multidisciplinary exhibition that featured work by some 80 artists from 17 countries who are focused on the influences of entertainment on art practices. Let’s Entertain was coproduced by the Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée National d’art moderne, Paris, and made possible by generous support from The Bush Foundation; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; Gary and JoAnn Fink; PRO HELVETIA Arts Council of Switzerland; the Asian Cultural Council; Étant donnés, the French-American Fund for Contemporary Art;; Gallery Shimada; the British Council; Mondriaan Foundation Amsterdam for the advancement of the visual arts, design, and museums; and Tate Access Floors, Inc. The imaginative online Art Entertainment Network portion of the exhibition was made possible by support from Aveus.

In April 2000, A Practical Dreamer: The Photographs of Man Ray opened at the museum. Our 10th-highest-attended exhibition, A Practical Dreamer averaged 1,803 visitors daily. The Walker’s presentation of the exhibition was made possible by gifts from Dayton’s community-giving initiative, Project Imagine, Goldman, Sachs & Co., Alliance Capital Management Corporation, Ingrid and Alfred Harrison, and Beverly and John Rollwagen. The exhibition was organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum, and curated by Katherine Ware, formerly Assistant Curator of Photographs at the Getty and currently the Curator of Photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with the expanded Minneapolis presentation overseen by the Walker.

The Walker’s Visual Arts Department ended its fiscal year in June 2000 on a high note with The Home Show, an exhibition on contemporary life and design that reexamined our notions of home and modern living during the last half century and into the future. The fifth-highest-attended exhibition, The Home Show averaged 2,224 visitors daily. The exhibition was made possible by generous support from Andersen Corporation, Coldwell Banker Burnet, Room & Board, the Archie D. and Bertha H. Walker Foundation, and The Pew Charitable Trusts. In-kind support was provided by Herman Miller, Inc, and promotional assistance provided by MPLS.ST.PAUL Magazine. The Un-Private House component of The Home Show was organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and was made possible by The Lily Auchincloss Fund for Contemporary Architecture. The Walker’s presentation of The Un-Private House was designed in partnership with Blu Dot Design, Minneapolis. The Architecture Studio was a collaboration with the Department of Architecture, College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (CALA), at the University of Minnesota.

A few weeks later in June, the Walker featured an exhibition of work by Bonnie Collura and Santiago Cucullu, two artists whose work deals with history, myth, and fiction. Dialogues: Bonnie Collura/Santiago Cucullu was made possible by generous support from the Jerome Foundation. As do all artists in the Dialogues series, which pairs emerging artists from Minneapolis and New York City, Collura and Cucullu created works specially commissioned for the exhibition.

With the largest museum-based performing arts department in the country, the Walker presented more than 130 performances during the past year, nurturing and celebrating the most important artistic visions in contemporary dance, music, and theater. In September 1998, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation approved a $1,500,000 multiyear grant to support the Walker’s current performing arts programs in jazz and dance and to establish a Doris Duke Performing Arts Endowment to fund performing arts activities in the future. This year, funds were used to support major new commissions and performances by choreographers Danny Buraczeski, Merce Cunningham, and Bill T. Jones, and jazz musicians Bill Frisell, Fred Ho, Jon Jang, and James Newton. The Doris Duke Performing Arts Endowment ensures that the Walker will maintain its reputation for innovation and risk-taking in the performing arts. In addition to the funds from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Performing Arts Department also received major support from The Bush Foundation, The Dayton Hudson Foundation on behalf of Dayton’s, Mervyn’s, and Target Stores, The McKnight Foundation, AT&T Foundation, Meet the Composer, The National Endowment for the Arts, The New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, Onsite Performance Network, a program of Dancing in the Streets, Powderhorn/Central Community Collaborative, and The Pew Charitable Trusts. Additional support was provided by Best Buy, The British Council, Heartland Fund, National Performance Network, Old Navy, and the Gertrude Lippincott Fund.

During the past year, the Walker’s Film/Video Department presented hundreds of classic films, retrospectives, and new works by both established and emerging film- and videomakers from around the world. The Walker is extremely fortunate to continue to receive generous financial support from the Regis Foundation, which makes filmmaker dialogues and retrospectives possible. This year, a sold-out audience enjoyed a humorous presentation by director John Waters as well as a fascinating dialogue between director Léos Carax and Kent Jones, Associate Director of Programming at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. In addition to the Regis Foundation, the Film/Video Department also received financial and promotional support from the Bentson Family Fund for the Acquisition, Conservation, and Presentation of Film, the Minnesota Women’s Foundation, Old Navy, Basilica of Saint Mary, Canadian Consulate General, Plymouth Congregational Church, St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Best Buy, Minnesota Film Board, Northwest Airlines, City Pages, and Zone 105 for a variety of programs throughout the year.

In 1996, the Walker expanded its multidisciplinary capability even further by forming the New Media Initiatives Department to advance the museum’s educational and artistic mission through the use of innovative forms of digital media, particularly the Internet ( This year, the museum was fortunate to receive a major grant from The McKnight Foundation in support of ArtsConnectEd, a pioneering educational Web site developed in collaboration with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts that links teachers, parents, and students to the vast array of arts resources held by Minnesota’s two largest art museums. ArtsConnectEd was also supported by The Minnesota Department of Children, Families, and Learning through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature, and MCI WorldCom. Other major funders of New Media programs at the Walker included Dayton’s Project Imagine, the Jerome Foundation, Aveus, and Vance Opperman. In addition, we are extremely grateful for the very generous in-kind support we have received from, Larsen Design + Interactive, and plural.

I am especially pleased to report that more than 122,000 people, from preschoolers to senior citizens, took part in the Walker’s educational programs this past year. The Education and Community Programs Department organized a wide range of engaging events, including tours, classes, workshops, readings, lectures, symposia, family programs, teen programs, teacher training, classroom materials, Free First Saturday and Free Thursday activities, and programs for visitors with special needs. Major support for these education programs and others were provided by Target Stores, the Medtronic Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, Coldwell Banker Burnet, the Honeywell Foundation, Blandin Foundation, William and Nadine McGuire, Aaron and Carol Mack, Northern States Power, Best Buy Children’s Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, Dick and Claudia Swager, Land O’Lakes Inc., and the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation.

I am proud to announce that the Walker’s Annual Fund once again met and exceeded it goals. All of us at the museum are most grateful to our donors who commit their financial resources to our work. I would especially like to thank this year’s major government, corporate, and foundation donors: the Minnesota State Arts Board through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature, the Target Foundation on behalf of Target Stores, Dayton’s, and Mervyn’s California, The McKnight Foundation, the General Mills Foundation, the American Express Philanthropic Program on behalf of American Express Financial Advisors Inc., and American Express Travel Services Co., the Honeywell Foundation, Star Tribune, The St. Paul Companies, and U.S. Bank. Northwest Airlines Inc. also deserves special mention for serving as the official airline of the Walker Art Center.

We were delighted to continue the third year of funding for the very popular Walker After Hours. This event, held on the second Friday of each month, draws both current and new audiences to the museum for an evening of gallery tours, performances, film programs, and educational activities. Special thanks go to U.S. Bank for launching After Hours and sustaining it for its first two and one-half years and Musicland for two and one-half years of entertainment sponsorship. We are also especially grateful for Dayton’s Project Imagine, which became the major sponsor of the event in March, and enabled the museum to organize Rock the Garden in June, a special After Hours outdoor concert event attended by more than 7,000 people.

Finally, I would like to end this letter by reiterating my most heartfelt thanks to our remarkable contributors. Your generosity during the past year has helped to make the Walker’s extraordinary programs accessible to an increasingly diverse audience. Without question, the Walker is perfectly positioned to move forward in the 21st century from a position of excellence and strength.

Steve Watson