The Minnesota Marine Art Museum opened as a nonprofit in 2006, bringing the country’s finest collection of sea-inspired paintings to a Southeastern town of fewer than 27,000 people. If you’re curious who the heck had that kind of money to drop on such valuable art, look no further than Winona resident Bob Kierlin, founder of industrial supplies company Fastenal and a former Minnesota State Senator.
MMAM’s current exhibition, “Maarten Platje: The Early History of the U.S. Navy,” features 15 extraordinary paintings by the Dutch painter, one of which is pictured above. The show runs through August 18, 2019. “Sleeping by the Mississippi,” a separate exhibition by superstar Minnesota photographer Alec Soth, goes through September 1, 2019.
The permanent galleries are also stuffed with household names—folks like Monet, Matisse, Picasso, Chagall, Kandinsky, O’Keeffe, Renoir, Audubon, Degas, Hopper, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Wyeth (both Andre and Jamie). Its most significant collection comprises landscapes by Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, and other Hudson River School artists. Its most celebrated work is Emanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851), which actually hung in the West Wing of the White House until March 2015.
Although maritime art is MMAM’s specialty, not every painting is of a clipper ship being battered by waves or ravaged by cannonballs. The collection is a broad survey of human beings’ relationship with water in every form: ocean, sea, lake, river, stream, puddle, swimming pool. Even the museum itself, with its lovely outdoor patio edged in flowers and decorative grass, overlooks Yeomans Pond, just a stone’s skip away from the Mississippi River. In planning your visit, leave enough time to enjoy both the indoors and out.
Minnesota Marine Art Museum
800 Riverview Dr., Winona, MN; 507-474-6626.