Letter from the Director
I imagined that this year of transition might permit the completion of an abandoned research project or time for the mind to wander. Instead, these have been 12 months of unimaginable change and opportunity, of being here and there, and of juggling present programs with future ones while making certain that the expansion developed as a welcoming place for both artists and audiences. The new building grew out of the ground, the Barnes building closed for renovations after a Valentine's eve bash that ended at 5 am with the completion of a seven-hour performance by the English company Forced Entertainment and all-night screenings of films by Canadian director Guy Maddin. Walker without Walls began the next day with a startling, yearlong array of programs that popped up in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden as well as in neighborhoods and venues throughout the Twin Cities. And that's not counting the usual range of programs we launched six months prior to closing the Barnes-six Walker-organized exhibitions that toured to museums from Los Angeles to Dublin, Ireland; new commissions, including a piano composition by Jason Moran (said by Rolling Stone magazine to be "the most provocative thinker in current jazz") based on a work in the permanent collection; film premieres and an expansion of the Web site mnartists.org, a partnership with the McKnight Foundation that provides an interactive community and sales opportunities for 4,000 artists across the state; and a series of artist-in-residence projects that brought artists from around the world to work in our community. If that's an enormously long run-on sentence, that's how most of us felt this year. . . lots of content, too little time.
       One day, I began counting the number of special projects associated with the opening of the new facility that haven't been made public yet, and thought you should hear about some of these first.
       Robin Dowden, director of New Media Initiatives, has been managing multiple projects, including completing a total redesign of the Web site, developing programming related to our collections, and inventing Art on Call, a new and cost-effective model for museum audio guides that utilizes an individual's cell phone. Since we're always eager to push the envelope, imagine you're someone named Jessica. Here's what Art on Call would make possible: Perplexed or delighted by Charlie Ray's sculptural crashed car in the Perlman Gallery, Jessica calls a number she sees on the label and listens to an excerpt from a 1999 gallery talk by the artist. At the end of the segment, she hears, "Are you interested in the curator's interpretation of this work?" A yes response continues her exploration, while a no prompts the system to ask if she is interested in learning about the location of related works. Or perhaps you're Sam, sitting in the General Mills Hennepin Lounge and wondering what to do that night. You call for today's calendar and find out that Bill Frisell is giving a concert in the McGuire Theater at 8 pm, so you ask to hear a clip of his latest composition. You decide to have a bite to eat in the new Wolfgang Puck restaurant and then attend the concert, but before you hang up, the program asks if you'd like to hear about other upcoming music events being offered.



Photography Credit(s)
Gene Pittman