This blog exists to inspire people to seek out all the great art that lives in and around the Minneapolis skyway.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

When I say Armory, I mean it's been too long...

 The largest Works Public Administration (WPA) property in the State of Minnesota, the Armory is an amazing building despite its present level of decrepitude. Built in 1935, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, forcing Hennepin County to change their plan to demolish the landmark in order to build a new jail. So the once-glorious moderne style event center remains, presently housing an underwhelming parking operation. What was once the site of National Guard equipment, training, the Minnesota Lakers, a Prince music video and tons of other special occasions, occupies a lonely stretch of Sixth Street that stares at the backside of the Thrivent Financial building.

The sculptured lettering and forms above the entrances are thick, yet well-done and I can't resist the eagles up top. Brave the puddle at the entrance, the peeling paint and the spray painted X's and stop in the place that has hosted everything from Hadassah's Funtennial to The Dead Kennedys and give it some respect.
Besides, there are two murals inside the Armory's trophy room that bear witness to the unkindness of the intervening years. Lucia Wiley's History of the National Guard and Elsa Jemne's Early Minnesota were part of the Federal Art Program (FAP), which was founded by the WPA to document American life. This building was truly a local endeavor, made of brick from Twin Cities Brick, limestone from Mankato, granite from St. Cloud and metalwork by Minneapolis-Moline and Gilette-Herzog (according to

James Lilek's tour of the building, is a great start to finding out more about this storied structure. Or take a stroll during business hours and pretend your car is parked inside to take a gander. Get up close to the buttery-hued exterior and imagine all those hometown men who once worked to create it.

P.S. Sorry that I have been remiss in posting. It was extremely hot when I took these pics of the Minneapolis Armory. Nonetheless, it felt good to be back in action, even on a 100 degree day. The dirty water I stepped in at the entrance of the Armory was disgusting and cooling all at the same time.