Letter from the President


Hello Friends! 

We missed you in June. The Friends Office has had a bit of a respite this month after Art in Bloom but the planning really never stops, especially as a new board takes office July first.  But before we dive into future plans I’d like to report on our organization’s 2015-2016 accomplishments.  In May, at the Annual Meeting, I reported on the past year’s achievements.  Following is my report in its entirety for all members to read at their leisure.
I hope your sun filled days are fun filled days!

Take care,


The 93rd Annual meeting of the Friends of the Institute is now in session.

One year ago we were half way through Mia’s 100th Birthday Year.  The Friends was part of this very significant celebration as the first sponsor to pledge $500,000 to Mia’s Birthday. Because of the work and dedication of Friends members, at the end of this fiscal year we will have paid off more than 4/5th of our pledge.  This accomplishment emphasizes the close connection and mutual respect we have for Mia, the staff and administration.  The expert leadership of Duncan and Nivin MacMillan Director and President, Kaywin Feldman, as well as the guidance of the Chief Advancement Officer and liaison to the Friends, Julianne Amendola, and support of Maurice Blanks and the Trustees of Mia, cannot be underestimated.  We are privileged to work in such a supportive environment.
Just two weeks ago we were hosting thousands of guests at Mia for the 33rd Art in Bloom.  To be exact, we had over 35,000 guests enjoying flowers and lectures and shopping and friendship throughout the museum for four days. This is the 3rd consecutive year attendance has been 35,000 or more.  Art in Bloom is the Friends’ largest fundraising event.  We don’t have any final financial figures; however, the work of over 300 volunteers and 160 pedestal floral artists promises to be quite successful. The money we raise enables us to run the business of the Friends.

The Friends continued the tradition of free monthly lectures, with many attracting crowds large enough for substantial overflow.  These lectures are sponsored by the generous gift of the Mark and Mary Goff Fiterman Lecture Fund.  I’m sure none of you will be disappointed with the line-up starting in September.

This school year was an outstanding year for the Friends Transportation Fund.  Friends provided a record 111 buses for students who all received a docent or Art Adventure led tour at Mia.  We were able to add buses for high school students this year and next, thanks to the 2015 Fund-a-Need donation of $20,000.  Schools represent the greater Twin Cities area and were chosen depending on their percentage of free and reduced lunches.

The Friends Children’s Programs had a unique experience when we funded a community mural project at Centro Tyrone Guzman Community Center.   It’s an active multi-generational center for the Latino community located on Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis.  Some of the Friends attended the mural dedication in September to celebrate the completion of the first phase of the project.  We look forward to the completion of the final phase in the next few months, now that the weather is milder.

The Friends Endowment for Education contributes nearly 12% of Mia’s educational department budget, Learning Innovation.  Mia’s LI department is dedicated to providing programming for children and adults.Our Friends membership stands at approximately 1,200 members.  That includes not only the greater Twin Cities but also St. Cloud and Rochester.  We are very proud of our membership and all the varied activities that we are able to offer.  Most of our communication with our Friends members is through our digital newsletter.  It is able to deliver Friends news to Friends in a timely fashion, inexpensively and efficiently.  We appreciate our members’ patience as we transition from paper to 21st century technology.
A bit earlier this year, the Friends had their Art & Architecture tour in March.  We went to Cuba!  We had a delightful trip; it was extremely educational and a lot of fun. Our group of 24 Friends felt as if we had stepped back to the 1950’s.  It was quite an experience learning first-hand about the friendly Cuban people.

The Friends Only events have given us numerous opportunities to enjoy laughter, knowledge and time with our comrades.  In the fall, we had a Friends #101 class, designed to inform Friends about our organization, followed by a tour with Nicole LaBouff focused on the large tapestries in the Fountain Court.  Later, we had a tour with curator Aaron Rio through the recently acquired Mary Griggs Burke collection.  Winter brought an evening of wine, coloring and a tour with John E. Andrus III Curator of Prints and Drawings Tom Rassieur through his delightful exhibit in the Cargill Gallery.  We also visited Mia’s Archival Library with Janice Lurie, Mia’s head librarian.  Our Friends Only committee organized docent lead pre-lecture tours prior to these monthly lectures and the ever-popular book club that includes a docent lead tour followed by a discussion and treats.

Of course, all of these exciting events could not happen without the friendly, professional help of our Office Administrator, Kate Smith.  She is the Friends liaison with our members, our Board and Mia’s staff.  I am so grateful I have the pleasure to work with her.  Please stop by the office just to say ‘hi’ and help yourself to a piece of chocolate.  If you’re not a Friend, why not join us?  Our memberships start at $45.  Become a member of this dynamic, exciting group and enjoy the friendship.

I love the job of Friends President because of you.  It is a privilege to work with such an outstanding, talented group of individuals.  Thank you sounds a bit underwhelming, but I sincerely do thank you for your support and friendship.

Connie Sommers

Ruminations on Arts

Connie SommersI love art; however, I am not an art major, docent nor an art adventure guide, but I am a member of Mia and I am in the Friends office…. a lot. So I guess our newsletter editors, Terry and Fran, felt I was qualified to write an article about my favorite piece of art at Mia. I’ve put a lot of thought into making a choice and ruminated a great deal. I came to the conclusion, I couldn’t possibly choose just one favorite work of art out of all the fabulous art in our museum. When I gaze at art, it can inspire me, it can make me feel happy or reflective. Art can remind me of fond memories and encourage wonder. There are many factors, light, color and genre that draw me to a particular piece of art. I just can’t give them a tidy answer, tied up with a yellow bow.
Recently, I was fortunate to join a tour with Jennifer Komar Olivarez through the Period Rooms at Mia. Tom Savage had just lectured about how museums are working to reinvigorate their period rooms for 21st-century museum visitors. And in my estimation, with the recent addition of photographs in gallery 333, Mia is rejuvenating our historic rooms. Anthony Marchetti, the photographer, approached the project in such an inventive, unique way. His interpretation illuminates our historic period rooms creatively yet respectfully. I wonder, how did he think of this interpretation. Anthony’s creative genius has touched me. Art is amazing!

A Letter from Friends President Connie Sommers

Hello Friends!
Connie SommersThe days of summer have arrived, but they are neither lazy nor hazy in the Friends office. As a new board begins their work, the Friends lecture series kicks off with a new slate of speakers on September 10th. Tickets will be available beginning August 15th. Kate, our office administrator, celebrates her one year anniversary with us. I am honored to begin my term as your President.
July marks the halfway point of the MIA’s 100 Birthday Year’s celebration and surprises. The excitement around the museum is palpable and continues to build. Friends can be proud of their $500,000 support of this once in a lifetime experience. It’s not over yet, and in many ways just beginning. I look forward to the second half of this celebration year.
Plans are progressing for a full calendar of events for Friends’ friends. There will be something of interest for everyone. So please stay in touch and drop by the Friends office. We’d love to see you. Coffee’s always hot and the chocolate dish is full.
Enjoy the remainder of summer,
Connie Sommers

A Letter from Friends President Pamela Friedland

Portrait of Friends President Pam FriedlandI look back at the last two years of my life and of course recall all the personal fortunes in my life such as moving into a new home my husband and I helped design and welcoming our first grandchild Greyson, into our lives. This would certainly be enough to fill anyone with happiness it would seem. But I have had the good fortune of continued fulfillment by leading the Friends of the Institute through an incredible two years. Doing it with the most loyal, diligent, and genuinely warm group of board members I have worked alongside, has so greatly added to these successful two years. Seeing our Office Administrator Kate Smith everyday, has given me great support and introduced me to someone with the most amazing smile ever and incredible competency to boot! Our Friends Lecture Series has enjoyed a year of tremendous success. As the auditorium fills each month, our members have learned an incredible amount about so many different art topics. We continue to be grateful to the Mark and Mary Goff Fiterman Fund for its generosity in supporting this enormous endeavor. We look forward to a stellar lineup, beginning once again this September. Our Transportation Fund this year is spending nearly $17,000 for 90 buses bringing almost 4,500 schoolchildren through our doors for guide-led tours. Our goal in the next year is to offer transportation to older children also, exposing and capturing their future interest in the arts. We continue our long tradition of decorating the front MIA lobby with lovely fresh flowers weekly calling upon the generosity of the Harris/Phelps Fund. This year, like so many others, we generously provided via our Friends Endowment for Education Fund over $80,000 to the Learning and Innovation Department, allowing them the proper outreach to the community the museum prides itself on. Our Children’s Fund works closely with this department also targeting specific projects. Perhaps Friends is most proud this year of speaking up first to become one of the MIA’s three top Presenting Sponsors honoring the museum’s 100th Birthday Year. We are proud to say we have now paid off $250,000 of our $500,000 gift to the museum! We have our members to thank for helping raise this kind of money. Your belief in our mission, tireless support of our fall fundraisers and our annual community favorite Art in Bloom, as well as countess volunteer hours, allows us to be this generous. This organization is nonexistent without all of you, not only your time, financial support, but personal interactions so important to the success of a volunteer organization. We certainly have the MIA staff to thank also. Our partnership with everyone in the museum is cherished and enjoyed. I leave you all in great hands as Connie Sommers takes over as president in July. I certainly hope I may speak for all of you, as we plan to bop into the Friends office often to see Connie and Kate, and continue to be a part of the growth and success of the Friends.
With very warm wishes, Pamela Friedland