The people people of Minneapolis are undertaking an important enterprise by connecting the historic, cultural, and recreational resources of an old place in a new way. After years of neglect and indifference, the Midtown Greenway's long idle industrial freight corridor will become a thoroughfare for transportation and the communication of ideas. The Greenway is an opportunity to recapture lost ground and an opportunity to create new common ground. Public art will increase the value and meaning of this remodeled place. 

Public art in the Greenway will help Minneapolis recognize the ties can bind people to place, to the past and a better future. The railroad lines once enabled goods to travel long distances. As the corridor is reimagined, reconstructed, and repeopled, public art will help to "restory" the ties as a long linear artifact of the "glamour industry" of the late 19th and early 20th century. The forests where the lumber was cut, the mill where the steel was forged, and the laborers who laid the rails all become food for thought and inspiration for art as the communities cultivate a new relationship with the corridor. 

This document follows on the assumptions, goals, and guidelines articulated in the Lake Street Midtown Greenway Corridor Framework Plan to promote placemaking and connections. Public art thoughtfully conceived, executed, and integrated is an investment in the corridor's sense of place. Woven into corridor entrances, public art announces arrival. Integrated into lighting and landscaping, public art provides aesthetic alternatives. Married to bridge design, public art can distinguish different corridor crossings. Dedicated to diversity, public art can delight, provoke, celebrate, and commemorate.

Executive Summary

The Freeman/Whitehurst Group was contracted by the Midtown Community Works Partnership to develop a public art master plan and implementation strategy for the Midtown Greenway Corridor. Work began with an initial site visit in February 2000, and notice to proceed was given in May 2000. 

This master plan for public art reports the findings and recommendations of the consultants in the following major areas of inquiry: 

  • Identification of the role of public art in, on and around the Greenway; 
  • Delineation of locations and types of public art for the Greenway;
  • Identification of administrative needs and funding potential;
  • Action steps to move the Greenway public art program forward;
  • Policies and procedures for implementation; 
  • History and context of the Greenway.

Key findings and recommendations include:

  • Public art can play an essential role in increasing community awareness and involvement with the Greenway, in creating value for adjacent property development, and in articulating the history, meaning, and local character of the Greenway as a Minneapolis resource. 
  • A central theme, the Museum of Urban Life should shape the public art projects on the Greenway, bringing together past, present and future through permanent and temporary artworks and artist-design team projects.
  • The bridges constitute the single most significant public art and design opportunity on the Greenway, and are both the priority for immediate funding and artist-involvement and the longest-duration project type (replacement over a 20-30 year time span.) Other projects, such as the ramp entries and the east and west termini of the Greenway, are important priority projects. 
  • Every Focus Area, as identified in the Lake Street/Midtown Greenway Corridor Framework Plan has opportunities for public art. 
  • While Minneapolis is behind other cities nationwide in public art development, much activity is underway and interest in public art is very high in the community.
  •  Multiple funding sources are possible, including active governmental support, corporate and private philanthropy, private development and nonprofit collaborations. At this time, no funds have been allocated, by public or private sources, for art or artists' services on the Greenway. 

Due to the time-span, scope, and number of governmental, organizational, and business entities involved in the Greenway, sustaining both the vision and quality of projects will require centralized administration to support the collaborative leadership of the Midtown Community Works Partnership. Short-term recommendations for administration include MCWP investing in contractual public art coordination services, working in collaboration with funders including the City of Minneapolis. Long-term recommendations include transitioning MCWP into a legal entity with professional staff, with 3-year performance reviews and a sunset audit provision.