In developing the Public Art Plan for the Greenway we looked to the organizing structure utilized in the Framework document produced Close Landscape Architecture. This document is familiar to the Midtown Community Works Partnership and its constituents and we believe it is important to build upon this plan rather than initiate another model. The focus areas for the Public Art Plan correspond to the eleven focus areas defined by the Framework.
Public art can take many forms and needs to, particularly in an environment as rich in history (and developing history) as found along the Greenway. With a swath of land approximately five miles long cutting through diverse neighborhoods that vary socio-economically, racially, ethnically, culturally, and demographically, public art that varies in its content, media, longevity, and functionality needs consideration. It also needs to be used to connect the whole through repetitive visual elements that unify and celebrate this diverse pathway.
Memory and history are an important element of the Greenway and should remain a part of it. The Greenway is a remnant of the Industrial Revolution and a cross-section of the growth of Minneapolis over an approximate hundred-year period. We recommend the development of, in the words of a member of the Resource Team, a Museum of Urban Life, within the Greenway. This could be conceived in a number of ways and it could take a variety of forms, but it should be an opportunity to make a statement about what it’s like to live and work in Minneapolis over time. This would not be just a timeline of events but physically would take a linear form from one end of the Greenway to the other and include — in written, verbal (recorded), visual (two or three-dimensional) form — the story of the Greenway, the adjacent neighborhoods and their growth and change over time. There might be displays — either temporary or permanent — of objects, such as railroad, personal, or communal artifacts. Vandal resistant cases could be placed sequentially or niches in the embankments could be created to house such artifacts. Oral history projects could be undertaken to record the stories, both historic and contemporary. Neighborhood involvement is critical.
The public art projects listed as priorities in this Public Art Plan require attention early in the Plan’s implementation due to the existence (for a relatively short duration) of opportunities to integrate artists’ work into design (and construction documents) for phase two development. Coordination with the Department of Public Works needs to proceed immediately. These first priority projects include bridges, entries, and ramps which are important to marking the special qualities of the Greenway to those crossing over it or entering onto it.