Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Walker Art Center

Exterior of the old Barnes building and the new renovation
Address: 1750 Hennepin Avenue
Neighborhood/s: Lowry Hill, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Kenwood, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1971
Primary Style: Modern
Additions: Herzog & De Meuron w/ HGA, 2005
Major Alterations: Significant Alterations
Historic Function: Museum
Historic Function: Art Gallery
Other Historic Function: Art Gallery
Current Function: Museum
Current Function: Art Gallery
Other Current Function: Art Gallery
Architect or source of design: Edward Larrabee Barnes
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
Material of Foundation: Concrete
Building Permit Number: BZZ-555
First Owner: Thomas Barlow Walker
Notes: Thomas Barlow, Herzog & De Meuron, Edward Larabee Barnes

Lowry Hill, Kenwood Minneapolis Hennepin County

Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota
(44.967668° N, 93.28928° WLatitude: 44°58′3.605″N
Longitude: 93°17′21.408″W

125 years ago the lumberman, Thomas Barlow Walker, created his own museum within his home by mounting 20 of his favorite paintings and making it public. From there, the inspiration for the Thomas Barlow Walker Art Gallery venue was captured.



The glass base links the art to the life of the city, while the diffident cube signals from afar that the Walker has grown -John King, Museum's Artful Architecture
The Walker Art Center is a catalyst for the creative expression of artists and the active engagement of audiences -Walker Art Center Website

The original site housed the original Guthrie Theater, which opened May 7th, 1963. The building was designed by Ralph Rapson (a Minneapolis icon), and after much controversy it was tore down in order to make room for the Walker Art Center’s new sculpture garden. Five years prior to being tore down, the Walker did a reuse study and couldn’t find anyone to take over the space. Unfortunately with the expanding size and popularity of the Guthrie Theater they found that it would be too expensive to expand and renovate. The site will remain known as essentially the first enclosed theater built for a thrust stage in North America, putting Minneapolis on the cultural map.

Barnes Design

The Walker Art Center began as a blank brick modernist box design by the New York based Architect, Edward Larrabee Barnes in 1927. The virtually small footprint of space for the large program of requirements forced the building upwards forming a vertical sequence of spaces. Barnes minimalist cube design is simple, but captures the essence of the period, especially with its dark brick cladding.

Herzog & De Meuron

In April 2005 the 70 million dollar expansion onto the original building was opened, doubling the size from 130,000 SF to 260,000 SF. The Swiss Architects Herzog and De Meuron were in charge of the facilities expansion, adding additional interior space, rooftop terraces, four acres of green space, and a 700-space underground parking facility. The interior expansion was comprised of a 350-seat studio theater, 20,000 SF of permanent collection galleries, a new grouping of spaces for educational purposes, and an interior lounge & restaurant. The high-tech building contrasts the Barnes building dramatically with its custom stamped aluminum mesh exterior. However, the interior spaces flow effortlessly into the old building, and have the same vertical/wrapping arrangement.

Outstanding Universal Value (OUV)

The Walker Art Museum (before the expansion) was the 8th most visited museum in the United States, and the 10th most visited tourist attraction in Minnesota. The building has a Minnesota based historical significance due to its founder, Thomas Barlow Walker. Thomas Walker brought the arts to Minneapolis, and better yet the Midwest. Today the Walker Art center represents Minneapolis as a city in it's galleries as well as it's overall structure. The windows lead to magnificent views, the street level glass walkway is meant to represent the passing of traffic, and the Herzog & De Meuron design creates an icon tying together the skyline.

"Today, the Walker is recognized internationally as a singular model of a multidisciplinary arts organization and as a national leader for its innovative approaches to audience engagement." Currently it ranks itself in the five most-visited modern/contemporary art museums in the United States and, together with the adjacent Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, attracts more than 600,000 visitors per year. -Walker Art Center Website


The Walker Art Center organizes a series of educational programs designed around the art lifestyle. The Art Center wants to engage the Minneapolis population by creating curriculum surrounded around the community, history, galleries, and lectures. The following programs are offered:

  • Architecture and Design
  • Education and Community Programs
  • Film and Video
  • New Media Initiatives
  • Performing Arts
  • Visual Arts



  • Thomas Barlow Walker


  • Walker Art Center
  • Kathy Halbreich, Director


  • Herzog & De Meuron, Switzerland
  • Edward Larrabee Barnes, New York

General Contractor

  • M.A. Mortenson
  • John Wood, Kendall Griffin

Exterior Cladding

  • Glass Curtain Wall: Interclad, U.A.D.
  • Metal: Spantek Expanded Metal, Spantek, M.G. Mcgrath, Lilja Inc

Interior Finishes

  • Armour, Minute-Ogle
  • Theater: Spantek, M.G. Mcgrath, Lilja Inc
  • Floors: Brick, Grazzini Brothers. White Terrazzo, Twin City Tile

Memories and stories


65}px This place is part of the
Minnesota Modernism Tour
64px}px This place is part of
the ARCH5674 Class Project

Photo Gallery

Related Links

http://www.walkerart.org/ http://www.herzogdemeuron.com/index.html http://www.swissmade-architecture.com/?seite=Home http://archrecord.construction.com/projects/portfolio/archives/0507walker.asp http://expansion.walkerart.org/project/green_space.html http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/stageandarts/179570861.html?refer=y


    Personal tools
    [http://discussions.mnhs.org/HP/oneonone.cfm snubnosed]