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Mission

The Duluth Art Institute enriches daily life with dynamic, innovative visual arts programming that upholds excellence and promotes inclusive community participation.

Vision

Bring art to, and inspire art in, everyone.

The Duluth Art Institute nurtures the development of local artists to capture the modern human experience through their work. They then create opportunities for artists to share what they’ve created in an inclusive environment — a place where people can come together to discuss their own perspectives and interpretations. Also, through encouraging the creation of modern, timely and compelling art, the DAI is enabling the archiving of moments in mediums that will carry the present-day human experiences into the future.

We are the premier arts organization in the region, providing access to both high-quality arts education for artists and the community, and professional spaces that exhibit rotating series of artwork. We advocate for artist and visual art practices while serving to showcase exemplary bodies of work by and for all.  

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 112 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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