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Mission

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

Vision

A cultural catalyst that has been operating for more than 100 years, the Duluth Art Institute provides the community a rich array of arts offerings as well as a forum for the exchange of artistic ideas across a wide mix of audiences.

The DAI celebrates the vital art scene here, today, and the sense of identity active artists derive from this region—which has always had a strong sense of place, being uniquely situated on the greatest of the Great Lakes: Lake Superior. The DAI is committed to contemporary curatorial practices and showcases innovative work via a roster of fresh exhibitions, featuring emerging to professional area artists as well as exceptional statewide and national art. Our three galleries encompass 2,500 square feet and are always free and open to the public. Didactic text, tours, and the Artist Talks series interprets the work, places it within the global arts context, and stimulates an understanding of process. An Arts Learning Lab adjacent to the galleries provides art books, reference materials, family activity packs, and other opportunities to reflect and engage with what’s on view.

Free Family Days, youth art camps, and year-round educational programming for children and adults enables beginner to professional artists to develop their art forms and expand their practices. Community resources include painting and multipurpose classroom spaces, a darkroom, ceramics studios, a fiber studio maintained by the Duluth Fiber Handcrafters Guild, and professional development services for artists. Many of these learning opportunities take place at our satellite location, a renovated Carnegie library with historic landmark status now known as the Lincoln Center for Arts Education. Enrichment activities are also offered throughout the community, and the DAI has partnered with the Arrowhead Library System, Benedictine Health System, area school districts, and more.

By providing community connections, exhibition space, and opportunities for art making and arts exploration, engagement and learning, the DAI nurtures all facets of the visual arts in the Twin Ports.

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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