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: Thoroughly Modern


Jodie Ahern



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Norwest Corporation has made an extraordinary gift to The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, in donating its famous Norwest Collection, comprising 471 objects of Modernist decorative, applied, and paperwork arts. The landmark announcement was made during a press conference February 16 at the Institute. The largest single corporate donation ever given to the Institute, the Norwest Collection includes some of the world's finest examples of Modernist art and design from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries."The Norwest Collection is one of the few Modernist collections in the world focused on the decorative and applied arts and paperworks, and its breadth and quality make it an extraordinary addition to our permanent collection," says Evan Maurer, Director and CEO of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "This is a wonderful gift to the Institute and to the Twin Cities public.""We have always been committed to sharing our collection with the public through changing exhibitions at the Norwest Center," says Norwest Bank Minnesota Chairman and CEO Jim Campbell. "As the collection has continued to grow, so too has our desire to share more of it with an expanded audience. We are happy to donate it to The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, which has the resources to make the collection accessible to a greater number of people. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Institute and to contributing to the cultural vibrancy of Minneapolis."The well-known collection, assembled over the course of eleven years by the Norwest Corporation, was inspired by the Modernist architecture of Minneapolis's Norwest Center, designed by Cesar Pelli & Associates and completed in 1989, according to Norwest Curator David Ryan. To allow for more of the works to be on view to the public, the majority of the collection will be housed in the new Wells Fargo Gallery of Modernist Design at the Institute. Select exhibitions will continue to be on display in the public lobby cases of the Norwest Center in downtown Minneapolis. And highlights from the collection will be on view at the Institute in a special exhibition opening in July.Norwest Corporation, which merged in 1998 with San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co., has long been associated with arts philanthropy in Minnesota. Norwest has been one of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts' corporate benefactors for many years. This gift continues that legacy.David Ryan will serve as an adjunct curator of design with The Minneapolis Institute of Arts for two and a half years to oversee the transfer of the gift, as well as continuing to install exhibitions in Norwest Center. Christopher Monkhouse, James Ford Bell Curator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, will supervise the integration of the Norwest Collection into his department; while John E. Andrus III Curator Richard Campbell will supervise the works of art on paper into his Department of Prints and Drawings.Ryan wrote the introduction and entries for the collection's accompanying catalogue authored by Alastair Duncan and published last year by The Antique Collectors' Club in England. The book is a comprehensive guide to Modernism, which includes six major international design trends: Arts and Crafts (1875-1915); Art Nouveau (1880-1910); Wiener Werkstätte (1903-1933); De Stijl (1917-1928); Bauhaus (1919-1933); and Art Deco (1920-1940). Items in the Norwest Collection illustrate these trends with examples from such well-known designers as Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, and Buckminster Fuller."The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is an encyclopedic museum of international renown," says Ryan. "Norwest is honored the museum accepts the responsibility of caring for this body of works, while sharing it with the world at large.""The Norwest Corporation's commitment to Modernist design is visionary," says Monkhouse, "and The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is fortunate and grateful to be a part of that vision."Related ImagesJames R. Campbell, Norwest Bank Minnesota Chairman & CEORocking Chaise, about 1880-83
Attributed to August Thonet, Austrian, 1829-1901
Bent and turned beechwood, caning
Manufactured by Gebrüder Thonet, ViennaNocturne radio, about 1937
Walter Dorwin Teague, American, 1883-1960
Mirrored glass, chrome, wood
Manufactured by Sparton Corp, Jackson, MississippiEvan Maurer, MIA Director & CEO
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Source: Jodie Ahern, "Thoroughly Modern: A landmark gift of The Norwest Collection of Modernism enriches the Institute's holdings," <i>Arts</i> 22, no. 3 (April 1999): 4-5.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009