Sunday, August 12, 2007
Aug. 12, 2007 (McClatchy-Tribune Regional News delivered by Newstex) --
Attendance rose at Minneapolis' traditional art museum and dropped at its leading contemporary-art venue in the fiscal year that ended June 30. The institutions, both recently expanded, attributed the differences to construction issues and exhibitions.
Attendance at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA), which opened a new million wing in June 2006, rose more than 14 percent from the previous year, while membership was stable.
At Walker Art Center, attendance fell 15 percent and membership dropped 18 percent. The declines were 'not a surprise,' said Phillip Bahar, the center's director of marketing and public relations. The museum expected that attendance and membership would fall after the initial excitement wore off a 0 million wing that was opened in 2005, he said.
Institute increase: Attendance rose to 465,654 at the MIA, while memberships held steady at 23,534 (down 0.5 percent). Officials attributed the increased attendance to curiosity about the expansion and to popular exhibits, including fresh installations of the museum's collection, sculpture by Alexander Calder, American furniture on loan from the Winterthur collection in Delaware and classic European paintings from the Atheneum in Hartford, Conn.
Walker declines: Attendance fell to 330,230 at the Walker, which specializes in contemporary art, film and performances. An additional 281,060 people visited the adjacent Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (down 2 percent).
The Walker's building appeared to be closed or under construction all year while the adjacent Guthrie Theater was torn down. Even so, Bahar said he believed the demolition had no effect on the center's attendance because 'people knew we were open and we had major exhibitions and programs people wanted to see.'
Walker's key exhibitions in fiscal 2007 included two drawing shows, an installation called 'Heart of Darkness,' and solo exhibits by Kara Walker, Cameron Jamie, Eva Hesse and photographer Diane Arbus.
Membership fell to 8,753, but the Walker's membership department nonetheless met its goals for the year. The center had experienced a 'dramatic increase' of 3,600 members when the new building opened and first-time members typically have a 'higher-than-average attrition rate,' Bahar said.
Budgets and endowments grew: Both organizations balanced their budgets. The MIA's operating budget grew nearly 4 percent to million, while its endowment rose to 1.4 million, up 17 percent. At the Walker, operating costs rose 3 percent to .5 million and its endowment grew 9 percent to 3 million.
Mary Abbe --612-673-4431 --email@example.com
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