Housed in a striking stainless steel and brick building that was designed by the world-famous architect Frank Gehry, the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum on the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus has often been described as a crumpled aluminum can by visitors and passersby.
The museum aims to offer “an educational and friendly museum experience,” while serving as a teaching location for professors at the school it calls home. “The museum’s collection features early 20th-century American artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe and Marsden Hartley, as well as a diverse selection of contemporary art,” according to the museum’s official website. “A teaching museum for the University of Minnesota and the community, the Weisman provides a fresh, engaging arts experience through an array of programs and a changing schedule of exhibitions.”
The museum has plenty to work with when it puts together new and fresh, exciting exhibits. Its total collection is in excess of 20,000 pieces now, ranging from modern art to Native American pottery to Korean furniture.
One of the major landmarks on the campus of the University of Minnesota, the Weisman Art Museum sits on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River at the east end of the Washington Avenue Bridge. When viewed from campus, the building presents a largely brick facade that is designed to blend in with the surrounding brick and sandstone buildings. When viewed from the opposite side, though, the Weisman Art Museum displays curving and angular brushed steel sheets that have been an abstract signature of Gehry. (Consider, for example, his Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.) Some critics have warned that the steel sheets could reflect the light of the sun into the eyes of passing motorists on the bridge and cause an unintentional accident.
Frederick R. Weisman, the man for which the museum is named, was a Minneapolis native who became famous in the Los Angeles area as a serious art collector before his death in 1994. Weisman’s collection and reach were so large that he founded other Frederick R. Weisman art museums on the campus of Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, and on a Los Angeles estate designed specifically to showcase a selection of Weisman’s collection.