Minneapolis outdoor art Nicollet Mall

  • Post last modified:January 26, 2021

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Outdoor art in Minneapolis sprouts from many locations. The Driveby Tourist plans to make this part of a topic called “Outdoor Art and Architecture” as sometimes it’s hard to determine if a building or other structure is either one. So, Minneapolis outdoor art Nicollet Mall (link) contains various forms of art. (Unfamiliar with the Twin Cities? Nicollet Mall bisects downtown and becomes “Main Street”). While some would argue that Hennepin Avenue is the “Main Street”, but that’s a story for another post.

Minneapolis Outdoor Art Nicollet Mall

Minneapolis Downtown Art

Undeniably, a Twin Cities favorite may be the Bob Dylan mural at 1 South Fifth Street. A Brazilian artist won the rights to paint this mural. Above all, for those unfamiliar, Bob Dylan is from Hibbing MN. Although born in Duluth, his parents opened an appliance store in Hibbing on the Iron Range. Following his high school graduation, he attended the University of Minnesota for part of a year. Soon, leaving his college days behind, he headed to New York. And, the song reference, “The Times they are a-Changin’ ” is as true today as when he released the song in 1964.

Nicollet Mall

Although the Bob Dylan mural isn’t “technically” on the Nicollet Mall, it’s only one block away and should be considered part of the Nicollet Mall outdoor art. (Or, at least I say it should!) By the way, the Nicollet Mall (link) is an outdoor mall running through the center of Downtown Minneapolis. Another key point, the mall planning began in the early 1960s and was completed in late 1967. And, the mall evolved by including more local stores and restaurants. Some of the large retailers closed and replaced by small shops and other local attractions. Interestingly, the mall remains a major Twin Cities attraction for shopping and entertainment. (The mall became the first “transit mall” in the US as it allowed only public transit vehicles.) While I don’t really like to include Wikipedia links, this one gives a good history of the Nicollet Mall.

Minneapolis Downtown Art – Beginning

Nicollet Mall
Waterfall at the south end of Nicollet Mall

The waterfall is decorative and doesn’t symbolize anything specific. But, it’s a good start on the south end of the mall.

Cancer Survivors Memorial

Nicollet Mall Twin Cities

Richard and Annette Bloch, of H & R Block fame, developed the concept of Cancer Survivors parks. Presently, the Minneapolis location is one of 25 parks in the US and Canada. Thus, the Richard & Annette Bloch Family Foundation continues to fight cancer. Richard Bloch was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer in 1978 and given 3 months to live. He valiantly fought the disease and became cancer-free in two years. He and his wife dedicated their lives to fighting cancer. Richard passed away in 2004 from heart disease at the age of 78.

Cancer Survivors
Sculpture of cancer survivors

Presently, cancer is the #2 killer in the US, with heart disease being first. However, cancer seems to create more fear in those who receive the diagnosis. As an illustration, the window frames indicate the sometimes twisting and turning cancer treatment protocols. And those emerging appear happy and celebratory as survivors. And, those entering demonstrate the fear and anxiety of the various methods that treatment entails.

Pictures in the sidewalk

Minneapolis Downtown Art
Nicollet Mall sidewalk art

So, sidewalk art inserts. These were designed by Seitu Jones, Ta-coumba Aiken, and Soyini Guyton. Of course, a link to the “Shadows of Spirits Pavement Inserts”. (Again, couldn’t keep people away long enough to take a picture, hence the shadow!)

Minneapolis Downtown Art
Another pavement insert

Follow on from above. Another insert by the same artists.

Music Wall of Minneapolis Downtown Art

Twin Cities
“Music Wall” at the former Schmitt Music building.

Seems to many to be a mystery on how it got there. To tell the story, back in the 1970s, Schmitt Music advertising manager received a boost from a Minneapolis Star columnist to “do something about that blank wall”, maybe she said “make it sing! ??). So, the manager did: Turns out, the music is from a piano piece written by French composer Maurice Ravel called “Gaspard de la Nuit.” Specifically, the section depicted on the wall comes from the third movement, called “Scarbo.”. World renown pianist Van Cliburn had his photo taken there. Also, it is arguably one of the most difficult pieces for a pianist to play. (I’m definitely not a pianist, so don’t ask me!)

Family Statue at Westminster Presbyterian Church

Nicollet Mall
Family Statue

The Westminster Presbyterian church contributed to art on the Nicollet Mall as well.

Peavey Plaza in front of Orchestra Hall on Nicollet Mall

Minneapolis Outdoor Art Nicollet
Peavey Plaza

Orchestra Hall is on Nicollet Mall as well and Peavey Plaza fronts the mall.

Nicollet Mall
More Peavey Plaza

Originally, the Peavey family foundation, founders of a flour and feed milling operations company, spearheaded the building. (Maybe you know that Minneapolis was once known as the “Mill City”? No, not all of you know that.) The last renovation, completed in 2019, was funded by Twin Cities businesses and individuals. Here is a link to the renovated Peavey Plaza.

Lanterns – Minneapolis Outdoor Art Nicollet

Nicollet Mall Art

And these globes (lanterns) signify different meanings. Of course, the obligatory link to the “About the Artist” page.

IDS Tower sculpture

Minneapolis Downtown IDS Tower
Just another sculpture – Significant as IDS is the tallest building in Minneapolis

Incidentally, this sculpture marks the IDS building which is (supposedly) the tallest building in Minneapolis. Actually, depending on how you measure, the Capella Tower is taller but only if you count a decorative structure on top. In true “Minnesota Nice” fashion, the IDS building continues to be known as the tallest and the owners of the Capella Tower don’t try to put in a claim!

Central Public Library – Nicollet Mall

Minneapolis Outdoor Art Nicollet Library
Nimbus sculpture fronting the Minneapolis Central Library

Really, the Nimbus sculpture fronts the library. Another key point, the sculpture became a gathering place for people of all walks of life. (I couldn’t get them all to move so I could take a picture!)

Another view of the Nimbus

And, here is the link to the Nimbus.

By the way, here is a link to the continuously evolving “Everything Twin Cities” series of my blog posts. In summary, I hope you continue to enjoy. And, both visitors to the Twin Cities and current residents are likely to find value here. Again, thank you for reading about Minneapolis Outdoor Art Nicollet.

Classic Rock Recollection

“The Times They Are A’Changin’ ” by Bob Dylan
“Come gather ’round, people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
And you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’ “


Written by Bob Dylan

The Driveby Tourist #the-driveby-tourist

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