The Minneapolis Institute of Art wrapped up its centennial year with its highest attendance ever, 760,000 people in the fiscal year that ended June 30.
The record continues a four-year run during which visitor numbers grew from 680,000 in fiscal 2013.
Calculations of other key numbers, notably the institution's budget, endowment and membership, aren't finished, museum director Kaywin Feldman said Thursday. Those stats are expected later in July or early August.
"I'm quite convinced that we balanced our budget and had a successful year," Feldman said. "But I just saw our auditors staring at their screens, so we don't have any other numbers yet."
She sent out an enthusiastic tweet detailing the attendance figures earlier this week.
Attendance this year was amplified by the museum's 100th birthday celebrations, which ran from January through December 2015. The centennial also produced a bumper crop of 752,000 visitors in fiscal 2015.
"I really believe those numbers are a reflection of the staff culture here, and that's not just a throwaway line," Feldman said. "We've adopted a culture of experimentation and risk-taking that included birthday-year innovations and free membership. In general, our income from membership has stayed about the same, but the membership base has grown, which means more people know about and attend our events and exhibitions.
"That was a big risk, but in general it has worked," she said, adding that museum board members were "appropriately skeptical and questioning all the time, but supportive."
Art stars featured in the 2016 fiscal year included Leonardo da Vinci, whose "Codex Leicester," a scientific manuscript, was loaned by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates who paid $30 million for it in 1994.
The big fall show, "Delacroix's Influence," brought stunning paintings by 19th-century A-listers including Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cezanne, John Singer Sargent and, of course, Eugène Delacroix.
Populist gestures also attracted attention, including a surprise display of a painting by Van Gogh, "Irises, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence," on loan from the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, and the purchase of "Eros," a monumental bronze by Polish-born sculptor Igor Mitoraj of a head symbolically blindfolded by love.
The museum also dabbled in crop art, having its own Van Gogh, the 1889 "Olive Trees," replicated in an Eagan field where it could be seen from planes arriving at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Other highlights included a bequest of 670 pieces of Japanese and Korean art, plus a $12.5 million endowment from the estate of Mary Griggs Burke, who died in 2012 at age 96. The St. Paul native grew up in an Italianate mansion on Summit Avenue but lived most of her life in New York City where she assembled a collection of Japanese art acclaimed as the finest in private hands outside Japan. The museum's show of 175 pieces from her collection filled 16 galleries from October through May.
The museum's fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.
Mary Abbe • 612-673-4431