Walker Art Center in Minneapolis has quite a unique public program! So diverse that it was very challenging for us to decide what we loved the most about it. For example, its innovative educational program spans hands-on sessions and workshops, online resources for both teachers and children. Walker Art Center has a long history of educational activities. Most of them were initiated by its directors and supported by several foundations: the Hearst Foundation, the Nordstrom Foundation and the Pentair Foundation. Curiously, apart from the “educational” department, Walker Art Center has separate departments that are focused on Architecture and Design, Moving Image, New Media, and Performing Arts. Each department has its own public program, which in its turn includes educational activities. Moreover, each department produces publications.
One of the reasons why we think that Walker Art Center is great is the art symposium that we attended recently. In collaboration with the University of Minnesota and e-flux magazine, Walker hosted an exceptional event – a 2-day symposium on museology. Surprisingly, these events don’t happen often. And the reason is that it is quite hard to find an environment that could organically bring together scholars, artists, educators, writers and students. Therefore, we were delighted that Walker succeeded in creating such atmosphere. The museum turned into a creative hub, a space for reflection and collaboration. Through this event we got to know more about the museum, its values, and programs. In our humble opinion, the success of one or another program is in collaborative efforts of staff, smart architecture and design, convenient facilities and, of course, a unique collection – all aimed at facilitating and enriching visitors’ experiences.
In this article we decided to focus on the Moving Image program. So if you are a cinema and video art lover – this article is for you! The Moving Image program is dedicated to advancing the knowledge about artists who work in film, video, gifs, animation, and more. The Walker Cinema is, allegedly, one of the best cinema theaters to watch both 35mm and 16mm films. Each year Walker commissions works by contemporary international moving image artists. The basis of the program is the Ruben/Bentson Moving Image Collection that counts more than 1000 titles. Apart from regular screenings, one can access the collection in Walker’s Mediatheque. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t get to experience the interactive facilities of the Mediatheque. But seems like it is a truly unique experience for cinema and art lovers! The selection available through the Mediatheque is quite impressive: Eisenstein’s Strike, Lang’s Metropolis, a selection of video works by the video art pioneer Nam June Paik, and Yoko Ono.
An exceptional program of the Walker’s Moving Image department - and our personal favorite - is Walker Dialogue and Retrospective Series. Initiated at the end of 1980s by then-curator Bruce Jenkins, the program was intended as an exploratory platform for moving image studies. Collaborating with the Directors’ League of America, Jenkins has created a unique program that brought together prominent film directors, critics and artists. The list of the invited speakers is very impressive. What is even more impressive is that the series was documented. Now if you want to revisit the talks you can find the most recent ones on the website of Walker Art Center.
Among the participants of the Retrospective Series – Abbas Kiarostami, Clint Eastwood, Terry Gilliam, Steve McQueen, Miloš Forman, and many more.
Here’s another reason to go to the Walker Art Center – it provides a unique opportunity for its members to see the screening of contemporary festival films curated in collaboration with the Independent Filmmaker Project Minnesota. One of the examples – 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards that will showcase such films as Moonlight (2016) – our personal favorite.
The Walker has it all: great facilities and spaces, a brilliant curatorial and education team, a unique collection of films and video.