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Collection on the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts

Identifier: M/A 0287

Description of Contents

The MSFA collection is divided into 6 boxes. The first box houses newspaper clippings from 1922 to 1987 on the Society and its history as well as promotional material consisting of informational guides about the organization. The second box houses solely promotional material including invitations, programs, and exhibition pamphlets. The third box is newsletters, news releases, and reports. Box four includes reports from the Board of Trustees from 1927-1988. And boxes five and six include annual reports and early exhibition catalogs.


  • 1900 - 2000


Access Restrictions

The collection is available for use in Special Collections during the department's open hours.


To humble beginnings, the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts was founded in 1883 by 25 professional and business leaders at the time, fourteen men and eleven women. In the beginning they owned six works of art and were housed in one room in the newly built Minneapolis Public Library. The Society's primary duty was to develop an art culture in the city and present exhibitions, but they dreamed of a greater "temple for art and music" that would include galleries, a school, and an orchestra hall. The Society founded the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts in 1886, which was also initially housed in the library building. The school would later change its name to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

By 1911 the Society's members had raised enough funds to build their own building, which was planned to be built in stages. In 1915, the central part of the new Minneapolis Institute of Arts building was finished and the Society, both its art gallery and school, moved into their new home. In 1965, the Society added a third organization, the Children's Theatre Company, which was given its own theatre in the 1970s expansion of the Society of Fine Arts Park.

The Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts was the umbrella organization of the MIA, MCAD, and Children's Theater Company, all housed on the Society of Fine Arts Park. The Children's Theater Company separated itself from the Society in 1975. They continued to take charge of the MIA and MCAD until 1987, when they divided their money and staff amongst the two and gave them free reign to run the college and the museum as they saw fit, essentially dissolving the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts.


2.5 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials


Related Materials in Hennepin County Library Special Collections

Separate collections exist for the Minneapolis Institute of Art (M/A 0286), the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (M/A 0289), and the Children’s Theatre Company (M/A 0277).

Processing Information

Photographs of Fine Arts Park were added to the collection by Jenna Jacobs in October 2018.

Collection on the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts
Faith Kollar
July 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Hennepin County Library Special Collections Repository

Minneapolis Central Library
300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis MN 55401 U.S.A.