How A Scenic City Became A Hot Bed Of Artistic Culture

How A Scenic City Became A Hot Bed Of Artistic Culture

PSFK selects the best cities that will refresh your creativity, like Minneapolis that offers big-city culture with small-town authenticity.

  • 3 november 2013

PSFK has partnered with the Lincoln Motor Company on Hello Again, a series that rediscovers global urban centers to showcase the innovative cultural, artistic and culinary happenings that are putting these destinations on the map. 

Minneapolis may be known for its 22 lakes, but beyond its beautiful scenery, this small metropolis may be one of the most interesting cities between the two coasts of the United States. With landmark architecture, a thriving art scene and a burgeoning startup community, Minneapolis has reinvented itself as innovative cultural hub that seamlessly merges the energy of a cosmopolitan city with the feel of a small town. This friendly Midwestern mecca’s new tag line could read ‘where great ideas and lifestyle come to thrive.’

The best place to begin recharging your creativity in Minneapolis is at the Walker Art Center. One of the most important and progressive contemporary art museums in the country, its symmetrical metal and glass expansion, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, is also a massive architectural feat. Inside, you will not only experience an impressive array of important 20th and 21st century art, but can participate in the Walker’s new-media program, which uses various digital technologies as a means to educate and inspire. The center creates regular free podcasts geared toward current exhibitions, which can be downloaded beforehand or are available at the front desk on courtesy iPods. Just outside the Center is the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden — one of the nation’s largest urban sculpture gardens, with permanent and temporary sculptures throughout the park. At its center sits the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture designed by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen that features a giant maraschino cherry on a metal spoon, which has become an unofficial icon of Minneapolis.

Walker Art Center

However, if you want to get to the heart of the Minneapolis art scene, then make sure to time your visit for the Art-a-Whirl, an annual event featuring more than 70 studios, galleries, and art spaces that open their doors, fostering a dialogue between consumer and artist. Occurring this year in mid-May, you can view and purchase the works of over 500 artists in a variety of mediums, as well as see performances, demonstrations and large-scale exhibitions. This is the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Minneapolis art community and speak with locals about the art they create and love.

Minneapolis has no shortage of quality independent theater companies, but the Guthrie is a standout, not only for its repertory theater program, but also as an architectural landmark that sits on the bank of the Mississippi River. Housing three stages, two restaurants and several bars within the Jean Nouvel-designed building, the Guthrie is a Minneapolitan entertainment destination even if you are not taking in a play. During the day, the theater offers iPod walking tours that take you through the intricate design of the modern building, from the amber box glass gallery to the cantilevered lobby, known as the Endless Bridge, where you can see unparalleled views of Minneapolis, including the Stone Arch Bridge and St. Anthony Falls that rush into the mighty Mississippi. If you want to take in Minneapolis all at once, this is the place to do it.

Guthrie Theater

If you are searching for inspiration in retail, head 15 minutes outside of town to the gigantic 4.2 million square-foot Mall of America. Over 40 million people walk through its doors each year to find one of the most exciting retail venues in the country, with over 500 stores, 50 restaurants, a theme park and aquarium all housed within its walls. This city-within-a-city hosts over 400 interactive events a year, from music performances to book signings. Although it may seem like a traditional mall, the combination of unique entertainment venues, and the abundance of stores and restaurants constantly hosting new retail concepts, makes the Mall of America an innovative and inspiring destination.

Mall of America

When hunger strikes, head to Northeast Minneapolis, the current epicenter for cool and hip urban Minneapolitans. You’ll find many trendy bars and eateries dedicated to local fare, but try Red Stag Supper Club, the first LEED-CI certified restaurant in the state. LEED-CI is an industry benchmark for green design and construction, which the Supper Club fulfilled through innovative and energy-saving techniques. Using new technologies, the restaurant consumes 70 percent less water and half the energy of an average eatery, practices toxin-free housekeeping practices, keeps a commitment to green education and composting, and salvages or reuses materials in the building of dining furniture. Completely lit by LED bulbs, this sustainable restaurant pays homage to the supper clubs of neighboring state Wisconsin’s past, which were not only places to eat, but also places to gather and stay the evening. The Red Stag Supper Club serves traditional fare with a 21st century twist. There are refined versions of chicken and dumplings, as well as liver and onions, on the menu, all made from ingredients sourced at local vendors. This is sustainable luxury dining, and a reminder that you are in the Midwest, but with big-city flavor.

Red Stag Supperclub

If you’re looking for a place to do a bit of work on the go, or come up with your next great business idea, pop into CoCo Mpls, a collaborative working space reimagined on the trading floor of the former Minneapolis Grain Exchange where freelancers, small businesses and corporate workgroups gather to share ideas. More private than a coffee shop but less formal than an office, this is a place where the creativity can be nurtured. In conjunction with Google for Entrepreneurs, CoCo hosts Black Box Mondays each week. Open to the public, this free event provides a space for people in the tech startup community to meet and do… whatever they like. From panel discussions to hacks, classes to demos, this is an opportunity to flex your creative muscle with like-minded peers.

CoCo Minneapolis

Afterhours in Minneapolis is more bustling than you’d expect for a city in the Upper Midwest. There are plenty of live music venues, bars and comedy clubs. But if you are searching for one last burst of inspiration, when the clock strikes midnight, head to the Southern Theatre to witness one of the most unique shows in Minneapolis: BALLS Cabaret. This variety show, created 22 years ago by singer-songwriter Leslie Ball, is a weekly display of artists performing in an assortment of disciplines (often for the first time live) in front of the audience. The open mic format lets anyone come on stage to express themselves artistically in five-to-seven minutes without censorship. Audience feedback and participation is welcomed, even solicited. It is the venue to see new talent emerge and form, collaborate with performers and add the perfect final note to a day absorbing the creativity that Minneapolis has to offer.

Lake Calhoun

Residents of this city may be known for their kindness and humility, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot to show off. Their community is filled with inspiring architecture, art and a commitment to embracing all things local. This is a cosmopolitan city filled with a plethora of cultural amenities and surprises in the middle of the American heartland.

Hello Again

Photos by Scottie B. Tuska of Alleycat Photography.



Wearable Tech Expert: Designing Technology To Empower Connection To Ourselves

Syndicated Yesterday

Museum Exhibit Celebrates Strange Architectural Contraptions

Artist William Heath Robinson's peculiar genius is on display in this recent show with wiggling ducts, jumbles of planks and coils of cable

Technology Yesterday

This Sensor Will Help You Brew The Perfect Cup Of Tea Every Time

42Tea is a small device that guides you through every step of the brewing process, even identifying the type of leaves being used


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Design & Architecture Yesterday

Norwegian Mountaineering Center Mimics A Snow-Capped Mountain

The structure's exterior is clad in a uniform surface of pixels to create a unique climbing experience

Related Expert

Ed Bakos

Arts & Culture, Design, Electronics & Gadgets, Future of Light, Future of Light, Sports & Fitness, Technology, Work & Business, Architecure

Sustainability Yesterday

Giant Coffee Cups Encourage People To Recycle Their Morning Cup Of Joe

The Hubbub Foundation has created a set of themed bins meant to inspire recycling on a large scale

Home Yesterday

Small Device Creates A Personal Weather Station Inside In Your Home

Netatmo's new sensor is a standalone air quality monitor that can measure humidity, purity, noise and temperature

Travel Yesterday

Advertising Proposal Aims To Be The Most “Instagrammable Billboard In The World”

The Belltower in Los Angeles would allow video advertising and live event streaming, and include a pedestrian plaza for visitors


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed october 14, 2016

Everything I Know About Leadership I Learned Teaching 7th Grade Math

Bree Groff, Managing Director at NOBL NYC, shares her secrets for knowing your employees and enabling a team

PSFK Labs october 12, 2016

PSFK Picks: Top 5 Performance-Enhancing Wearables

Our new report looks at innovations pioneering the future of performance through intelligent activewear and predictive analytics

Design & Architecture Yesterday

Easy-To-Build Shelter Offers A Quick Way To Put A Roof Above Your Head

The structure designed by studio Duffy London has applications in disaster relief or first-aid

Beauty Yesterday

L’Oréal Wants To Help Visually Impaired Women Apply Makeup

The cosmetics brand has developed a series of audio tutorials for Brazilian consumers with reduced sight

Travel Yesterday

Drone-Powered Hotel Concept Could Radically Redefine Vacations

These unique pods would allow guests to visit a variety of locales over a period of several days

Automotive Yesterday

Pitch Your Startup Idea To Fellow Uber Passengers

A new promotion on the ridesharing service's POOL feature lets select riders compete for a $5,000 investment from prominent venture capitalists

Work Yesterday

Busy Office Managers Can Rely Upon A Digital Concierge To Help Offload Tasks

MEET is a service that automates the process of everyday tasks such as pantry and printer reordering, so employees can focus on more important work

Media & Publishing Yesterday

Design Series Turns Emojis Into A Coffee Table Book

The Emoji Book will be comprised of different artist interpretations of the ubiquitous symbols

Health Yesterday

These Pajamas Are Promising A Better Night’s Sleep

Recliner's new collection is made for those looking for a better way to get quality shut-eye

Food Yesterday

Cook An Entire Pizza On Your Stovetop

This compact kitchen appliance lets people bake a homemade pie without the need for an oven

No search results found.