Facade of Mia, courtesy Mia
The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) announced Thursday that it has hired London-based David Chipperfield Architects to study possible changes at the museum aimed at improving the visitor experience.
This news comes on the heels of the Walker Art Center’s massive, $75 million, multi-year campus renovation that culminated in the reopening of the Minneapolis Sculptutre Garden this summer. Mia is now stepping up to the plate and doing something . . . that seems sort of boring, but at least very practical.
A spokesperson said Chipperfield would be creating a “master plan” that might include a parking structure and improved art storage, along with a new restaurant and possibly a new gathering space.
The next step is for the firm to come in and survey the building and respond to Mia’s needs. This process should take about 12 months. The actual plan for renovations should be ready by the fall of 2018.
"This is the first step in a long-term strategy to update and improve the visitor experience in the museum and to ensure we have the infrastructure to support continued growth," said a statement from Kaywin Feldman, MIa's director and president. "Museum attendance has doubled in recent years, and we need to update our facilities to meet the new demands of our growing audience. One of the many reasons we are excited to work with David Chipperfield is that the firm understands how museums function, from back of house to the front and from the basement to the roof."
The choice of Chipperfield is intriguing, because this firm has worked with many museums. In short, they are something of #museumgurus. They worked on the seven-year renovation to the St. Louis Art Museum (2004-13), and a "master site plan" for the Menil Collection in Houston.
Abroad, the firm worked on the Neues Museum in Berlin, which had been restored after being bombed in World War II; Chipperfield took on the project in 2009 with a vision of retaining the ruin look of the space. The firm also worked on the Royal Academy of Arts, London; Museo Jumex, Mexico City; and Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center.
“The master plan is going to function as a blueprint and strategy for the future,” said Michaela Baltasar-Feyen, head of strategic communications and converged media at Mia. “It’s exciting that we are working with this architecture firm because they have a wonderful resume and have done a lot with museums, and are very experienced in understanding what a museum’s needs are."