Modernism 20: Past/Present/Future

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Presentation Cup, 1901–02 Silver With Semi Precious Stones © Courtesy of Artist and Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Ruba Rombic Fishbowl Molded Glass © Courtesy of the Artist and Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Modernism 20: Past/Present/Future

2400 Third Avenue South
55404 Minneapolis
October 13th, 2008 - October 2nd, 2009

United States
888 642-2787
Tue-Wed, Sat 10-5; Thu-Fri 10-9; Sun 11-5
modernism, industrial-design


Wells Fargo Center and MIA Modernist Design Galleries
Free Exhibition
Since 1989, a continuous series of annual exhibitions devoted to aspects of Modernism has been presented at Wells Fargo Center, an offsite, downtown venue for the MIA.

“Modernism 20: Past/Present/Future,” the 20th anniversary exhibition, is a selection of design classics in all mediums, ranging from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present. Among works to be debuted are a recently acquired ME1 Bauhaus lamp (1925–26) and an Albin Muller punch bowl (1903). Other highlights include an Emile Gallé table lamp (c. 1900), Christopher Dresser Clutha vase (c. 1890), and Kate Harris presentation cup (1901–2).

Industrial design works include a Fernand Léger doorknob and escutcheon (c. 1955–56), Thomas McCreary Ruba Rombic fishbowl (c. 1928), Italian espresso machine (1930), and the celebrated Ezio Pirali VE 505 Electric table fan (1954–60). Lesser known, but no less engaging discoveries round out the survey.


In 1987, Norwest Corporation initiated a fully coordinated arts program to complement its new spaces in Norwest Center, a 57-story office tower in downtown Minneapolis designed by Cesar Pelli & Associates. The program’s concept — to acquire and rotate a modernist design collection — was prompted by the building’s character and vintage interior elements. A series of twenty-one vitrines were permanently installed on two public levels exclusively for presenting annual exhibitions.

The collection’s debut and formal opening of the building were timed to coincide in January 1989. When Norwest merged with Wells Fargo in 1998, the entire Modernism collection, nearly 500 works, was donated to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The exhibition program as originally conceived, however, has continued without interruption. Past/Present/Future represents the twentieth successive exhibition — a celebration of the program’s 20th anniversary.

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