See more of the story

After more than 25 years in downtown Minneapolis, the quirky Louvre It or Leave It museum has decided to leave it.

It has moved to an Eden Prairie office complex after a break-in last August that caused an estimated $20,000 in damage.

"That was kind of the last straw," said director Scott Paulson, who had previously discussed relocating with founder Gary Fink.

People broke into the museum, located in the Northstar East Building at 608 2nd Av. S., during widespread looting that occurred Aug. 26 after a Black man killed himself on the Nicollet Mall, leading to false rumors that police had shot him.

Paulson said two people shattered the front window with a ladder, then 20 people streamed in. The museum's alarm went off, but because police had blocked off downtown Paulson could not get to the gallery.

"A little bit of stuff was taken," he said. "I don't think they knew what they were looking at. They took a few small pieces from the office and a bunch of checks."

The museum doesn't have a long-term lease, and downtown is relatively empty because of the pandemic, so this felt like the right time to say goodbye, he said.

Louvre It or Leave It is settling into a new home at Lakeview Business Center, 10915 Valley View Rd., where highways 212 and I-494 intersect. Paulson thinks it will be easier to visit because of the ground-level location and ample parking.

The museum hopes to welcome more school-group tours, and will eventually be open by appointment only.

The brainchild of Fink, a retired executive and philanthropist who founded a Minneapolis consulting firm specializing in health-care compensation, the eclectic collection includes a variety of artists, both well-known and obscure.

Passersby walking through the Northstar Center will remember Viola Frey's figurative sculptures, Deborah Butterfield's giant metal horses and African-American photojournalist Ernest Withers' pictures from the civil rights era. The haunting permanent installation "Arbeit Macht Frei," a Holocaust remembrance with a cutout from the front gate of Auschwitz concentration camp, took up an entire gallery.

The museum will shrink significantly in its new space, downsizing from 4,500 to 2,600 square feet. As a result, it donated some works to the Weisman Art Museum and the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery. The museum also may donate the Auschwitz exhibit.

@AliciaEler • 612-673-4437