MMAA, in financial upheaval, to close public exhibition space

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by Jay Gabler, TC Daily Planet • 11/7/08 •

The Minnesota Museum of American Art has just announced that it will be temporarily—but indefinitely—closing its public exhibition space as of January 4, 2009. In announcing the decision, the museum cited “financial challenges” resulting in part from the museum’s leadership transition, the fact that the museum is being forced to vacate its current riverfront home, and the generally poor economic climate. Associated with the closing of the museum’s public exhibition space will be a reduction in the museum’s staff, according to the press release announcing the decision, though the museum “will retain qualified professional staff to safeguard, preserve, and exhibit the collection.”

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The decision is the culmination of a year of struggles for the downtown St. Paul institution. The museum must vacate its current location in the Ramsey County Government Center, which will be redeveloped, next year. Even as the museum’s board searches for a new home, it is also seeking to find and hire a “dynamic new leader for the museum”: Bruce Lilly resigned this summer after 11 years as MMAA director, during which he oversaw the museum’s move from Landmark Center to its current location. Still, board chair David Kelly promises that “MMAA is not going away.” In today’s press release, Kelly says that “we are building a bridge to the future, and we will work to increase the trust and respect of our funders, members, donors, colleagues, and the greater St. Paul community.”

Photo by Melissa Slachetka, from the MMAA’s recent Art Here exhibit.

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