History

sidebar history

For more than a century, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design has been a catalyst for creativity in the Twin Cities, the region, and the nation.

1883–1900

1883

The Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts is formed to raise interest in the fine arts through teaching and exhibitions.

1886

The Society of Fine Arts establishes the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts in a rented apartment in downtown Minneapolis. Douglas Volk, an accomplished portrait painter who studied with Jean-Léon Gérôme, becomes the school’s first president.

1889

The school finds a more permanent home on the top floor of the newly open Minneapolis Public Library at Tenth Street and Hennepin.

1893

Noted painter Robert Koehler moves from New York to Minnesota to become president of the school. Over the next ten years, he develops much of the curriculum that is known today as the art education field.

1900–1950

1911–1915

The Society of Fine Arts raises funds to build the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, which opens its doors in 1915. The School is temporarily housed in the museum until Ethel Morrison Van Derlip and her brother, Dr. Angus Washburn Morrison, pledge $50,000 to construct the school’s first permanent facility—the Julia Morrison Memorial Building.

1917–1918

Mary Moulton Cheney becomes the school’s first female president. President Cheney is deeply involved in the Minneapolis Handicraft Guild, a part of the arts and crafts movement. Artist Wanda Hazel Gág graduates from the Minneapolis School of Art. Her children’s book Millions of Cats is the oldest American picture book still in print today.

1943

Acclaimed artist George Morrison graduates from the Minneapolis School of Art and later moves to New York, where he joins a circle of abstract expressionists that includes Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, and Willem de Kooning. Morrison later returns to Minnesota to work and teach.

1950–2000

1959–1960

While many American art schools seek accreditation under new professional standards, only three are fully accredited in the first year this certification becomes available: the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Cranbrook Academy of Art, and the Minneapolis School of Art.

1963

Rob Roy Kelly ’52, a printmaking and graphic design faculty member at the school, designs the flying G logo for the newly opened Guthrie Theatre.

1970

Under the leadership of President Arnold Herstand, the Minneapolis School of Art becomes the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, reflecting its highly regarded bachelor of fine arts degree. President Herstand launches an extensive visiting-artists program and one of the country’s first courses in intermedia—a new field exploring the simultaneous use of sound, light, color, and movement.

1974

President Herstand oversees the construction of a new building, conceived alongside the Children’s Theatre Company and new wings of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts—these modernist buildings represent some of the only projects in the United States designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Kenzo Tange.

1988

After more than one hundred years of shared history through the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts become autonomous organizations. President G. Richard Slade oversees the establishment of a separate administration and board of trustees.

1990s

After launching a master of fine arts degree program and expanding studio facilities for students, President John S. Slorp creates a new Minnesota tradition with the MCAD Art Sale. The college’s computer labs are significantly expanded and digital work becomes a larger part of the academic curriculum.

2000–Today

2000s

The college expands its enrollment, increases its housing capacity, and under the direction of President Michael O’Keefe, launches a new four-year curriculum and a laptop initiative that are now viewed as national models. I.D. magazine names the college one of the nation’s Top Ten Design Schools.

Today

The college is home to nearly eight hundred students from twenty-nine states and thirteen countries. Inspiring a vibrant arts community, the college offers bachelor of fine arts, bachelor of science, master of arts, and master of fine arts degrees; continuing education courses; certificate programs in graphic design and interactive design and online marketing; online learning programs; youth programs; and free exhibitions and lectures.