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Walker Art Center announces $75 million campus renovation plan

Updated: April 6, 2015 - 1:20 pm

The Walker Art Center announced Monday it will undergo a major campus renovation as part of a $75 million project to enhance its green space and neighborhood access.

The center plans to add a new entrance pavilion and a four-acre green space. The renovation construction will be in tandem with the $10 million reconstruction of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which is owned by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

“As we mark our 75th year, we are thrilled to commence plans to realize a fully integrated vision for the Walker’s and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden’s 19-acre campus,” said Olga Viso, the Walker’s executive director, in a statement. “It is a once-a-generation moment to shape one of the key gateways to Minneapolis’s downtown cultural district through the integration of art and landscape.”

The project would unify 19 acres of the museum’s cultural campus with an entrance pavilion on the north side, a new grassy hill where it hosts Rock the Garden and a glass wall and patio that would replace a staircase. Outdoor concrete plazas on the other side of the center would be replaced with groves of trees, landscaping and sidewalks.

The project would open the sculpture garden to a new generation of commissions. Announcements of artwork are forthcoming, according to a press release.

The Walker has already raised 80 percent of the $75 million, including nearly $50 million from the private sector and $10 million secured by the Park Board from the Legislature and Mississippi Watershed Management Organization specifically for the 11-acre sculpture garden reconstruction. Walker board member Angus Wurtele and his wife Margaret gave $20 million, the museum’s largest gift in its history. 

Ryan French, the Walker’s director of marketing and public relations, said the center’s fundraising staff are looking to their donor pool for the final $15 million.

The construction is anticipated to begin in the late summer or early fall, in tandem with the sculpture garden reconstruction. The Walker campus renovation will be completed by fall of 2016 and the sculpture garden construction will be finished in the spring of 2017.

The sculpture garden will be closed beginning in October through construction, but French said the museum and galleries will remain open. 

Because of the construction, French said the Walker is working with Minnesota Public Radio to secure an alternative venue for next year’s Rock the Garden, the annual summer music festival in the sculpture garden. 

The Park Board is expected to vote on the proposed design for the sculpture garden reconstruction on April 15. There will be a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. during the meeting.