Minneapolis Museum Drapes Refugee Life Jackets Over Exterior Columns


The Minneapolis Institute of Art has draped thousands of life jackets worn by refugees over the museum’s exterior columns.

Pictures of the life jackets circulated on social media ahead of MIA’s Sunday opening of its “When Home Won’t Let You Stay” exhibit.

The new exhibit, which will run until May 24, highlights the “diverse artistic responses to migration, ranging from personal stories to poetic meditations in a range of mediums.”

“See how the global movement of people today through migration, immigration, and displacement has mobilized artists from over a dozen countries to reimagine ideas of home and place,” says MIA’s website.

The life jacket display was the brainchild of “artist and activist” Ai Weiwei, whose “Safe Passage” exhibition will make its “U.S. premiere” Sunday with the installation of “thousands of discarded life jackets, worn by refugees making the dangerous sea journey from Turkey to Greece.”

The “When Home Won’t Let You Stay” exhibit will also feature a “large chemical storage tank” that becomes a “self-playing polyrhythmic ‘host drum’ that pounds out rhythms derived from Dakota songs.”

“The drum’s placement in MIA’s Bruce B. Dayton Rotunda challenges the centrality of venerated objects like MIA’s Doryphoros—considered the ideal human form in ancient Greece—as foundational to the Western art historical canon,” the institute states on its website.

The final project in the exhibit will consist of a living room for “local immigrant and refugee communities to access resources, connect, and have restful and healing conversations.”

MIA plans to host an “afternoon of discussion highlighting the diverse artistic responses to the subject of migration presented in the exhibition” on the opening day. One speaker will talk about the “history of xenophobia, and how more human narratives around immigration are created.”

The museum is funded by the citizens of Hennepin County through the Park Museum Fund and by Minnesota taxpayers through appropriations from the arts and cultural heritage fund under the Legacy Amendment.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Life Jackets at Minneapolis Insittute of Art” by Chris Serres. 







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