Reach out to art: Classes and lectures at local museums


The Twin Cities are filled with art museums, and there is a lot more happening inside than you might think. If you’ve ever wished you had studied art in college, if you’re curious to see what’s out there, or if you just want to try something different for an evening outing than the standard movie night, check out a lecture or class at a local museum.

A Minneapolis Institute of Arts lecture has a college lecture feel, except the seats are more comfortable and the crowd is a little older. At a lecture I recently attended on Alexander Roslin, an 18th-century Swedish portrait painter, I noted that the crowd was mostly made up of men and women over 40, with an added mix of younger students and art lovers and, of course, the usual semi-crazy lady who likes to make comments during the presentation.

The lecture went a little quickly, taking 40 minutes instead of the scheduled 60, but the presenter, Dr. Magnus Olausson, spoke with authority and humor. Olausson’s heavy Swedish accent took a few minutes to adjust to, but it added a certain zest to the lecture. Dr. Olausson is Director of Royal Castle Collections at the Swedish National Portrait Gallery in Stockholm, and curator for a Roslin exhibit at the National Museum in Stockholm and at Versailles, which explains his knack for mingling French phrases into his presentation. Afterwards I heard one woman exclaim to a friend, “He was worth the whole lecture series!”

Portrait paintings, the Mona Lisa aside, are not usually show-stoppers, but Olausson’s lecture shone new insight on what was happening in society at the time the works were painted. Learning the story—and, sometimes, the scandal—behind the paintings gave me a new appreciation for the paintings. After the lecture was a great time to wander the museum and revisit the collection. When you learn more about the art on display, you’ll find yourself lingering longer over the many masterpieces to be found in Twin Cities museums.

Art museum lectures, classes, workshops, and more

Walker Art Center

Curator Talk: Doryun Chong on Tetsumi Kudo
October 23, 7:00 p.m., free
Meet in the Bazinet Garden Lobby

Teacher Workshop: Eero Saarinen—Teaching by Design
October 25, 2008, 10:00-3:00 p.m., free (registration required)
Contact for more information

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Art & Archaeology Lecture: Before the Valley of the Kings: Egypt’s Last Royal Pyramids
October 23, 6:00 pm, free (reservations required)
Pillsbury Auditorium

Lecture: How to Collect for Supper With Lynne Rossetto Kasper, food & antiques expert
October 25, 2:00-3:00 p.m., reservations required
Zuhrah Shrine Center at the Harrington Mansion

Lecture: The Reflective Lens: Contemporary Indian Photography and Video Art
October 26, 2:00-3:00 p.m., $5 (reservations required)
Pillsbury Auditorium

Lecture: The End of Photography: Meditations on the Birth, Death and Meaning of a Medium
November 2, 2:00-3:00 p.m., $5 (reservations required)
Pillsbury Auditorium

Friends Lecture: Focusing on Photography: Through the Lens of Curator Ted Hartwell (1933-2007)
November 13, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., free (reservations required)
Pillsbury Auditorium

Lecture: New Pots for Old Clothes: The Intricacies of Textile Collecting in India
November 13, 6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m., free (reservations required)
Reception Hall, Target Wing

Minnesota Museum of American Art

Lecture: Art Dialogue—Museums and Art Collections
November 9, 2:00-5:00 p.m., free

Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum

Lecture: How Many Words? The History, Theory, and Implications of the So-Called Work/Image Dichotomy
November 6, 12:00-1:00 p.m., free
Shepherd Room

Melissa Slachetka is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Minneapolis and contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.