Minnesota Historical Society to offer architecture lectures, tours

The Minnesota Historical Society is teaming up with the state’s architects to tell the stories of some of Minnesota’s most iconic structures, including the Mill City Museum in downtown Minneapolis, Split Rock Lighthouse on the North Shore and the James J. Hill House in St. Paul’s Summit Hill neighborhood.

The American Institute of Architects Minnesota is collaborating with the Historical Society to develop new public tours and lectures that explore the state’s architectural legacy. Programming at Mill City Museum will launch this fall and the goal is to expand it to the other sites.

The two groups will also establish a center for architecture at Mill City Museum — one of the Historical Society’s most dramatic sites.

“Mill City Museum, built into the ruins of the Washburn A Mill, is an architectural masterpiece,” said Doug Raney, the Historical Society’s director of metro sites. “Its modern design combined with its historical integrity has earned it numerous awards … so when the opportunity came up to partner on content with AIA Minnesota, it just made sense.”

Mill City Museum is a National Historic Landmark along the Mississippi River that showcases the flour milling industry, which fueled the growth of Minneapolis.

The Historical Society and the architectural community have long worked together on specific projects. This is a chance to help the public “understand how the built environment impacts nearly every aspect of their lives,” said Sheri Hansen, spokeswoman for AIA Minnesota.

There is a strong public appetite to know more about architecture and the built environment and the implications of those choices, said Nathan Johnson, president of AIA Minnesota and partner with the firm 4RM+ULA.

“We can’t wait to help visitors learn more about architecture, using these MNHS sites as a launching point for exploration of why we’ve designed and built the way we have, and how we can design even better spaces for the future,” Johnson said.

The AIA Minnesota is a nonprofit founded in 1892 devoted to improving the built environment and providing exceptional design. The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849.

Shannon Prather • 612-673-4804