Renee McGivern, one of the most amazing Modern Art Mensches, shared this experience with me a few weeks ago. I found it so inspiring that I asked her if I could share with you—so here it is.
“Yesterday, a friend and I visited the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona, a sleepy, small college town on the banks of the Mississippi River, just over two hours south of St Paul. It’s stunning. To discover this museum after living in Minnesota all my life is a miracle.
The generous, humble collector who established the museum, made his fortune building a local business into a mega-company: Fastenal. Every piece of art had water in it, even if just a bit of a river, etc. (hence “Marine.”)
He managed to buy the smaller (6’ wide) of two Washington Crossing the Delaware paintings; they were painted at the same time by the artist. This one had been hanging in the West Wing at the White House for years, on loan from the previous owner. It is part of the museum’s jaw-dropping American collection, including works by O’Keefe, the Wyeths, Hopper, Cassat, Homer, Sargent, Pyle, and dozens more.
We did not imagine the quality of the art we’d enjoy when we drove up to that one-story building.
What I was particularly stunned by was the museum’s European collection. I could not believe what I was seeing inches from my face: Cezanne, Monet, Picasso, Chagall, van Gogh, Gaugin, Wroblewski, Rousseau; my favorite was a small Renoir that is the loveliest painting of all.
Currently, there is an exhibit about the Titanic — emotional — and 20th Century British master marine artists – warships, sailboats, harbors, roiling white-capped, blue-green seas — gorgeous.
It’s not a huge collection on the walls but a very thoughtful one so we didn’t get overwhelmed in 2.5 hours. We’ll go back to spend more time with some particular works. Also, there are more works in a vault that get rotated in and out of the galleries, we learned.
Nothing else in Minnesota compares to this museum in terms of the variety and quality of American and European art; it’s ideal for people who don’t travel much to larger museums but have seen many of these works in books or magazines.”
~Cynthia Cooper, another of the marvelous Modern Art Mensches. suggested that it would be good for me to mention that, perhaps, the most noteworthy aspect of Renee’s experience was the surprise factor. She visited an unassuming art museum in a little town and had a hugely rewarding, “wow!” experience. There’s a lesson in there somewhere! ~
p.s. Check out Christy Lee Rogers’ fantastical underwater photography in her MMAM Online Exhibition! http://https://www.mmam.org/christy-lee-rogers-online-exhibition