Walker Art Center

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Members Talk Museums

In May 2012, some 600 museums throughout the state joined together to highlight their contributions to communities from Jackson, home of the Olson-Slaabakken Cabin, to the Twin Cities, whose wealth of museums help make it a national cultural capital. To mark the debut of Minnesota Museums Month, we asked a group of Walker members to share their stories and insights about museums of all kinds.

Sheila Packa and Kathy McTavish, members of the Walker Art Center and Duluth Art Institute (DAI)

Love the Walker because: You’re free to wander without the pressure of commerce … the design invites exploration. / The confluence of art forms that mix it up there every month. 

Love the Duluth Art Institute because: The red stone, towers, and steep-pitched roof of its building, the historic Depot. / The Duluth arts scene is close-knit and collaborative and the DAI reflects this … it takes risks while having fun. 

Dream museum jobs: Working at any of the 12 museums of the Karpeles Manuscript Library throughout the United States. / I would be an installation at the Walker, a cellist in the midst of an ever-changing sea of projection.  

Must-see museums: The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. / This year I am wandering about the “cloud museum,” exploring ways that people are mapping art forms onto the Internet.  

Museums matter: They are important as repositories of art—objects made by hand with intention and painstaking effort, things that puzzle, delight, and/or possibly disturb us into deeper observation. / The immersive experience of wandering about these places has a dreamlike effect on my own creative work. I learn and am changed by other artists.

Chad Snelson, member of the Walker Art Center and director of business enterprises at the American Swedish Institute (ASI)

Loves the Walker because: I’d like to say Rock the Garden, but the truth is that my life is more about Arty Pants and scavenger hunts with my kids on Free First Saturdays.

Loves the American Swedish Institute because: besides our great programming and educational experiences, there’s the pure beauty of the architecture—watching first-time visitors take in all of the detail is priceless.  

Memorable museum experience: An eye-opening walk through the Metropolitan in New York as an art-historian friend pointed out the “fakes” and “forgeries” thought to exist in its collections.  

Museums matter: Partly it’s the “Is it art?” question—museums have the ability to ask questions of their visitors like no other form of entertainment.  

Would spend a million museum dollars: On marketing the wealth of offerings at museums throughout Minnesota. Everyone should know about places like Franconia Sculpture Park or the great work at Intermedia Arts or even the children’s craft workshops at ASI.

Must-see museum: The Punk Rock Museum in LA.

I work in a museum because: There seems to be a major shift in defining what it means to be an economically viable nonprofit. I truly appreciate working in an environment that requires constant change and the freedom to enact that change.

Nahid Khan, member of the Walker Art Center and tour guide at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA)

Loves the Walker because: Its work from contemporary global artists challenges me to think beyond factual boundaries about what I see and hear in today’s world. 

Best things about the Minneapolis Institute of Arts are: Its amazing art treasures; an Islamic art gallery that is unique among Upper Midwest museums; programming on the history of art; and my sharing it all with visitors as a guide. 

Is a museum volunteer because: I’ve always had fun visiting museums as a child in London, later in Toronto, and then in the United States. The MIA’s guide program focused on South/Southeast Asia was a perfect opportunity to merge all my experiences with my ethic and religious heritages, and share beauty and human creativity with visitors.  

Dream museum job: I’d follow my childhood interest in being an astronaut and support humankind’s net “giant leap” in a more comfortable way, maybe as a guide at the National Air and Space Museum. 

Would spend a million museum dollars: By splitting it among several museums, including the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting, the Minnesota Newspaper Museum (open only at the Fairgrounds during the State Fair), and the new Minnesota African American Museum and Cultural Center.

Chris Short and Sharon Stakas-Short, members of the Walker Art Center and Minnesota Children’s Museum

Must-sees-and-dos at the Walker and the Children’s Museum: Our friends are always amazed at the quality and cutting-edge nature of the Walker’s exhibitions. For friends with children, “Our World” at the Children’s Museum is always a hit. 

Memorable museum experience:The Black Dice performance in the Walker’s McGuire Theater a few years ago—sound as a literal confrontation with the audience.  

Would spend a million museum dollars: On an exhibition that would push the boundaries of experience—art incorporating traditional techniques with high-tech and interactive ideas, even collaborations with forward-thinking musicians.  

Must-see museums: Whenever we’re traveling, we visit local museums. With our Friend-level membership at the Walker, we can easily visit reciprocal museums. 

What does your child get from museums? An appreciation for new experiences, curiosity, and ideas about the many ways to be inventive. It’s amazing how he enjoys asking questions and discussing what he sees.

What do you get as a family? Quality time like no other. Places that highlight creativity are an invigorating way to reset from our hectic life. It’s fun to experience new ideas together and bounce thoughts off of each other.

Sheila Packa and Kathy McTavish

Photo: ©Walker Art Center

Chad Snelson

Photo: ©Walker Art Center

Nahid Khan

Photo: ©Walker Art Center

Chris Short, Remy Short, and Sharon Stakas-Short

Photo: ©Walker Art Center