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Meandering in Minneapolis

Right again, art-lings: The answer to the question posed in my last post is, of course, Minneapolis, also known as Target City, home to the retail giant’s headquarters.

After the more serious members of the press had flown home to file stories, CultureGrrl brought her appetite for culture to the Sunday-morning public opening’s pancake breakfast, so that she could faithfully report to you on the “local celebrity pancake flippers,” as promised.

William Griswold, above, good-humoredly complained to me about the heat from the griddle and assured me that his culinary qualifications had not been on the table when he interviewed for the directorship of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, which he assumed in October.

Who knows what indignities others have suffered to become museum directors? Did Philippe get his start filling crêpes?

The true master of the spatula, though, was Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who flipped his flapjacks up in the air so that they plopped onto the diners’ plates. This clearly is a guy with experience in dishing it out.

I had been hoping that the celebrity chefs might have included that nationally known Twin Cities raconteur, Garrison Keillor, but I had heard him broadcasting the night before from Austin, Texas (“I got lost in Austin”), so I knew that was a longshot.

The third cooking celebrity was Miss Black Minnesota (pictured above, in her crown and sash, behind Griddle Griswold)—one of the very few people of color at the museum on this celebratory opening day of free music, games, rides and, oh yes, the opening of 113,000 new square feet, including 34 new galleries in the Target Wing, designed by Michael Graves.

The museum’s officials keep emphasizing their desire to involve a diverse community, but they clearly have a way to go in attracting groups outside the usual white, educated, relatively monied museum constituency. (In this, Minneapolis is no different from other traditional art museums.)

Minneapolis is more populist than most, though, in its free general admission policy. Griswold got a big round of applause when he declared at the ribbon-cutting ceremony that admission would always remain free.

I’m duty-bound to save for the Wall Street Journal most of my thoughts on the various art and architectural doings around Minneapolis. But later this week, I’ll give you my view on the rocky marriage between high art and high tech, informed by my experiences on this trip.

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