Check Out These Twin Cities Exhibits and Shows Before They Disappear
It should come as no surprise that the Twin Cities has a thriving, vibrant arts community -- after all, we have the second-largest number of theaters per capita in the country outside of New York City and a vibrant East African community that contributes to the local arts scene. If you’re feeling the winter doldrums, challenge yourself to get out of the house and explore some of the world-class art, museums, and theaters that Minnesota has to offer. We’ve rounded everything from plays inside a planetarium to an exhibit about the legendary Prince. So spend these snowy months in the warm embrace of the Twin Cities arts community.
Lowry Hill / Loring Park
You’ve probably gone to a museum to check out art exhibits, but have you gone to one to see theater? Undoubtedly one of the wildest live performance series you can find is the Walker Art Center’s annual Out There series, which kicks off every January with a bang. This year’s series includes a re-enactment of a real FBI interrogation; a provocative investigation of Latinx cliches and identity politics; a latex-clad “Gothic melodrama;” and a treatise on the powers of artificial intelligence by a group of disabled performers.
Price: $26 for individual shows
If you were mesmerized by HBO’s recent Chernobyl TV series, don’t miss the chance to engage with a real piece of Chernobyl history. Featuring images originated from the archive of Nikolai Tarakanov, the major general who supervised the removal of highly radioactive elements from the Chernobyl site, this exhibit provides a visceral reminder of human fallibility.
The most legendary club in Minnesota finally has an exhibit of its own. First Avenue has been the pinnacle venue for the early careers of many local legends like Lizzo, Prince, The Replacements and more since it opened in 1970. The list of acts who have strutted this stage is a veritable who’s who of music history, featuring everyone from Ike and Tina Turner to REM, RunDMC, the Fugees, Lady Gaga, Billy Idol, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Patti Smith, and many more. Seep in the unseen history of a Minnesota musical institution while you still can.
It may be three years since Prince died, but in Minnesota the grief still feels fresh as ever. Mend your broken heart a little by stopping by this special exhibit tracking Prince’s early career and rise to superstar fame. All photos are taken by Prince’s personal photographer and friend Allan Beaulieu and are sure to include images even the biggest fans have never seen before.
What would you do if you had to impress an important guest, but all your power went out and your party had to continue completely in the dark? That’s the question at the center of Black Comedy, an unusually funny play written by Peter Shaffer (who is better known for writing heavier dramas like Equus and Amadeus). Theatre in the Round’s unique stage construction will give Black Comedy a whole new perspective, literally. Attend for the chance to brighten up the dark winter nights at this time of year.
Questions of identity and immigration are extremely relevant topics right now. Noura, a new play by Heather Raffo, describes an Iraqi woman named Noura who struggles with her new life in the United States and feels left behind by her husband and son, who are more assimilated. Inspired by Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, this is a modern take that is not to be missed.
Though it has been more than 50 years since Neil Armstrong and crew touched down on the lunar surface, the Apollo missions feels just as enthralling today. This Science Museum of Minnesota exhibit takes visitors from the beginning of the Space Race to the debut of the International Space Station and more. From a simulated Apollo 11 launch experience to artifacts from the US Space & Rocket Center, museum-goers will feel ready to blast off themselves.
Theater Latte Da can always be counted on to provide high quality, thought-provoking musicals. Bernarda Alba, which stars 10 of the Twin Cities finest musical theater actresses, is no exception. This lesser-known musical details the unhappy lives of five sisters under their strict mother’s harsh reign after her second husband dies. Think of it like August: Osage County, but with music. There won’t be many productions of this one elsewhere; seize the chance to see it while you can.
Price: $33 - $53
Lowry Hill / Loring Park
To commemorate the legendary artist’s 90th birthday, this touring exhibit chronicles six decades of Jasper Johns’ famous printmaking. The traveling exhibit showcases various techniques and motifs that the artist explored throughout his career, including his well-known paintings of the American flag, as well as his work with numbers and the alphabet. See how Johns bridged the gap between abstract impressionism and pop art -- and why he’s regarded as one of the most influential 20th century American artists.
Lyn-Lake / Uptown
One of the smash hits of the 2017 Tony Awards, A Doll’s House Part 2 imagines the consequences of Nora Helmer’s choice to leave her family in the original Doll’s House published in 1879. What happens when she shows up back at their door years after leaving them behind? This smart, powerful drama is a perfect choice for the feisty Jungle Theater, which has been turning out record audiences and completely rebranded under the expert hands of Artistic Director Sarah Rasmussen. Get your tickets early as almost all of their plays sell out quickly.
African-born and Los-Angeles-based artist Sherin Guirguis has had a long-standing interest in exploring the forgotten histories of Egyptian feminists. Her most recent exhibit comes to St. Paul and fills the museum’s two-story Rauenhorst Court with her installation of hand-cut paper artwork, sculpture, and other artifacts inspired by writer Doria Shafik, best known for organizing 1500 women at the American University of Cairo and storming the gates of Parliament, demanding that women be given the right to vote and hold public office.
Price: Free admission
Don’t miss this new play by Dominique Morrisseau, a contemporary playwright who is quickly becoming a critical darling along the likes of Lynn Nottage. Skeleton Crew tells the story of a group of auto workers struggling with the future of their jobs at an automotive factory in Michigan during the Great Recession. The material is relevant, powerful, and is acted by a cast of Twin Cities all-star actors; don’t miss it.
Site-specific theater is a growing trend in Minnesota. One of the most exciting in 2020 is Silent Sky, which Theatre Pro Rata is bringing to the planetarium at the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum. The show tells the true story of Henrietta Leavitt and other female “computers” in their work at Harvard University, helping to document and discover hundreds of stars and other planetary bodies. Think of it like your local, live acted version of the smash successful film Hidden Figures.
You probably know a certain author named Charles Dickens for his famous novels like A Christmas Carol or Oliver Twist, both of which have been turned into hit musicals. But did you know about his last work, The Mystery of Edwin Drood? Because the novel was never finished (Dickens died while writing it), the musical lets the audience choose who they think killed Edwin Drood, giving every performance a completely different ending. It’s a night of interactive musical theater that lets you solve a mystery and see a comedy at the same time; think of it like a musical Clue.
The Minneapolis Institute of Art (or MIA as it prefers to be known) has long been the hidden gem of Minnesota museums, allowing visitors to view the majority of its vast collection for free. Several exhibits celebrating female artists are coming this winter, including Julie Buffalohead. Buffalohead is an enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma and creates visual narratives told by animal characters, a mystical subject matter that rarely graces museum walls.
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