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Collection on the Kimball Organ Preservation Steering Committee

Identifier: M/A 0292

Description of Contents

Newspaper clippings, newsletters, programs, promotional material, and correspondence from the Kimball Organ Preservation Steering Committee. Files contain some historical documents from the 1920s, the time in which the organ was built, but most records pertain to the preservation efforts of the late 1980s and early 1990s.


  • Creation: 1927 - 1994
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1986 - 1993



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


One of the largest organs ever built by Chicago’s W.W. Kimball Company, the 10,000-pipe Kimball organ was installed in the Minneapolis Auditorium in 1928. When the auditorium was demolished in the 1980s, a grassroots campaign led by the Kimball Organ Preservation Steering Committee raised over $700,000 to save the organ and install it in the new convention center. Due to problems with the contractor hired to install the organ, the job was never completed. The organ remains in storage at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

The "Mighty Kimball" or "Voice of Minneapolis" as it was christened in 1928, is one of the largest pipe organs in the Midwest, weighing over 30 tons, with handcrafted pipes that vary in size from 1/2 inch to over 30 feet. One of the unique features of the Kimball is the two consoles, a concert console and a theatre console, which in its early days rose dramatically out of the basement on elevators (a feature which was removed in the 1960s during the Auditorium remodel). While the idea for the Kimball was strong, it lacked sufficient funding and support from the start, which caused problems throughout the organ's lifetime. Yet the Kimball was never forgotten and from the 1950s to the 1980s, it was used an estimated 10 or 12 times per year.

In 1986, plans were developed for a new convention center on the site of the Minneapolis Auditorium. With the backing of Mayor Donald Fraser and support from other city promotors including StarTribune Columnist Barbara Flanagan, the Minneapolis Organ Trust Fund was established to kickstart preservation efforts and save the Kimball from destruction. The volunteer Kimball Organ Preservation Steering Committee was formed to raise an estimated $1 million to refurbish and reinstall the organ in the new convention center. Donors "purchased" pipes, benefit concerts were held, and dozens of corporations and groups contributed to the funds, eventually raising more than $700,000. An organ builder was selected to do installation and in July 1990, the organ parts were transferred from warehouse storage to the new Minneapolis Convention Center. Unfortunately, after seven years of struggle to save the organ, issues arose with the organ contractor and the job was left unfinished. Today, the Kimball sits disassembled in storage at the Minneapolis Convention Center, awaiting a new home or the chance to be rebuilt so it can sing again.


0.21 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Collection on the Kimball Organ Preservation Steering Committee
Bailey Diers
October 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.