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Letter from the Director

On June 30, the Walker Art Center completed its first full fiscal year since reopening in 2005. It has been an extraordinarily successful year, and I am pleased to report on just a few of the achievements that our board, staff, and patrons have made possible.

More than 670,000 people visited the Walker and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden to experience the work of some 700 artists, critics, and curators. This is an astonishing number of visitors, placing us among the top five most-visited modern and contemporary museums in the country, behind the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art--all of which operate in much larger markets. While our revenue from admissions continues to grow significantly, we remained committed to being an extremely accessible institution: the popular Target Free Thursday Nights and Free First Saturdays have welcomed 80,000 visitors alone. Another 6 million people visited the Walker's award-winning Web site, which contains hundreds of hours of outstanding educational content; only a handful of other museums in the nation have sites that are as attractive to the public.

This year, generous contributions made an unusual array of artistic programs available to local as well as international audiences. Hundreds of film/video screenings and premieres as well as dance, music, and theater performances from around the world were presented. Innovative education programs focused on the fourteen exhibitions on view this year, and reached tens of thousands of people of all ages. Significantly, as a leading creator and exporter of cultural programs, six Walker-organized exhibitions were seen in eight museums in the United States, Canada, and Spain. During the past fiscal year, hundreds of thousands of art lovers saw our presentations, both in Minneapolis and on tour, including Strangely Familiar: Design and Everyday Life; Kiki Smith: A Gathering, 1980-2005; Chuck Close: Self Portraits 1967-2005; ANDY WARHOL/ SUPERNOVA: Stars, Deaths, and Disasters, 1962-1964; House of Oracles: A Huang Yong Ping Retrospective; and Some Assembly Required: Contemporary Prefabricated Houses.

The Walker continued to receive wonderful press from around the globe and down the street. Four awards in City Pages' annual "Best of the Twin Cities" issue suggest the joy our own community finds through time spent at the Walker. Among the honors we received in that publication were "Best Single-Artist Show" for House of Oracles: A Huang Yong Ping Retrospective; "Best Concert Venue" for the William and Nadine McGuire Theater; "Best View" for the Walker terraces, the Skyline Room, and 20.21 Restaurant & Bar by Wolfgang Puck; and "Best Museum," of which City Pages wrote: "Hands down, for contemporary art, film, and dance, the Walker is one of the best museums in the world. Its free Thursdays feature performances, talks, and workshops that anyone, including a Parisian art snob, could easily appreciate. The family events, lectures, and readings help to feed, support, and educate a growing Twin Cities arts community that's essential to the health of the cities."

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