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History

The Duluth Art Institute is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that has been providing visual arts programming to the region for more than 100 years. The Institute started as a club in 1897 by Bishop James McGolrick and was incorporated as the Duluth Art Association in 1907, with early board members including famed industrialists Chester Congdon (best known in the area for his home, Glensheen), G.G. Hartley, Julius Barnes, and Luther Mendenhall. The DAI began solely as an exhibition venue that held art displays all around town, but it went dormant just 25  years later during the Great Depression. At that time, a number of Work Projects Administration artists established a school called the Art Center Association. The school attracted distinguished faculty members including David Ericson, Knute Heldner, Kathryn MacKay, Paul Van Ryzin, and Birney Quick (celebrated in the region for also founding the Grand Marais Art Colony). The school flourished for a number of years but was discontinued at the start of World War II. In 1946 the school merged with the reviving Duluth Art Association to consolidate and strengthen visual art activities under the Duluth Art Institute name, which we retain today; and since that time our mission has included a commitment to both arts exhibitions and arts education for all. In 1975 the DAI found a permanent home with several other cultural entities to form the St. Louis County Heritage and Arts Center, also known as “the Depot,” where our business office, exhibition galleries, fiber studio, and darkroom still reside. In 1992, compelled by an increasing demand for further educational programming and access to the ceramics arts, the Institute purchased an authentic Carnegie Library in Duluth’s Lincoln Park craft district. At this site we offer ceramic studios to rent; multi-purpose studio space; classes for youth and adults; summer art camps; and Free Family Days. The Duluth Art Institute today is the premiere community art center serving Northeast Minnesota.


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