The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

January 28, 2014

Our View: Bring on public art debate

WHY IT MATTERS: Minnesotans should welcome a discussion about the mix of artwork on display at the Capitol, other public buildings.

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Many point out that Capitol artwork is also deeply lacking in depictions of African Americans, Hispanics, women and others important to Minnesota history.

Striving for a richer, more diverse mix of artwork hanging in the Capitol and other public buildings is a worthy goal. It doesn’t mean scenes rich in history — such as the Civil War battles — should be hidden away. Nor does it mean that a tally needs to be kept, such as countering every depiction of European settlement with one of Native American history.

Nor should the effort be one costly to taxpayers. There are plenty of artists and private foundations — as well as the state Historical Society and Arts Board — that could be involved in commissioning and help coordinating a better mix of art displays without diverting other state resources.

Public artwork is important. It provides an appreciation of art itself and in the case of artwork in public buildings such as the Capitol, it helps define the history of the state and the values of its people. A robust debate on the topic is welcome.

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