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Letter from the Director

General Mills Hennepin Lounge, view from Hennepin Plaza

This was the year in which reality actually exceeded hyperbole. And, I confess, it feels delicious. Every member of the Walker Art Center's remarkable board and staff shared the same anxieties as the April 15, 2005, grand reopening approached: we had set ourselves exceedingly ambitious architectural, programmatic, and capital campaign goals. Would we be able to deliver our promise, as described in our 1999 long-range plan, to create "a pioneering 21st-century multidisciplinary arts center with audience engagement and experiential learning at its core"?

I think it's safe to say that, at least temporarily, we can set aside our worries and celebrate a bit. None of us dared imagine the level of critical attention the expansion—designed by the brilliant team from Herzog & de Meuron—would receive. Of the more than 1,100 articles or expanded listings on the Walker and its programs, some 250 featured the new facility in lifestyle magazines, architectural journals, and newspapers in nearly every major market in the country, including three important pieces in the New York Times. Nor did we anticipate the huge number of visitors—more than 107,000—we would welcome in the 10 weeks from opening day to the close of our fiscal year on June 30, 2005. And, despite the unusual number of variables we were juggling in this transition period, we were determined to balance our budget for a 24th consecutive year—and we did.

Photography: Cameron Wittig

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