Katie Remole, Friends of the Institute President

Friends of the Institute has been very privileged to work with an outstanding Mia administration and staff.  We are grateful for the leadership of Kaywin Feldman, the Duncan and Nivin MacMillan Director and President of Mia, and we are thankful for the guidance of Julianne Amendola, Mia’s Chief Advancement Officer.  Their contribution to Friends cannot be overstated.

The Friends greatly appreciate our invaluable Operations Manager, Kate Smith Williamschen.  Kate was instrumental in helping Katie through her first year as Friends president.  Kate has an ever-ready smile and quick laugh that amplifies her organizational skills and ability to keep the Friends office running smoothly.

This year we were fortunate to have great support in the office with two very capable Project Assistances, Jackie Figueroa and Frannie Kuhs.  Their contribution enabled Friends to put on a very smooth Art in Bloom.  Thank you.

We are also thankful for our strong Friends affiliate groups in Rochester and St. Cloud.  These members help us support Mia through their networks of friends who enjoy the many benefits of the museum through group tours of Mia’s collection and curator lectures.  We thank them for their important community leadership on our behalf.

I now want to recognize our wise and talented past presidents.  Will you please stand when I call your name:  Carol Burton Grey, Suzanne Payne, Carolyn Dahl, and Connie Sommers.  Thank you for joining us today and thank you for your contribution to Friends.  CLAP.

Friends of the Institute had a very eventful year.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Two weeks ago we were in the midst of Art in Bloom. This was our 35th year celebrating art and flowers.  The event brought more than 52,000 visitors to Mia.  I want to recognize our co-chairs Lezlie Pinske and Barbara Proeschel; the Art in Bloom committee; all the volunteers, patrons and the Mia staff who make this event possible.
  • Art in Bloom was filled with energy and beauty, but the biggest star of the event was Mia’s new acquisition and Art in Bloom’s signature piece of art, Eugène Delacroix’s Still Life with Dahlias, Zinnias, Hollyhocks, and Plums.” In celebration of Friends 100th anniversary in 2022, Friends was given the opportunity to raise the funds needed to acquire this masterpiece.  Last year Patrick Noon, Mia’s curator of paintings, and the world’s leading expert on Delacroix, learned of its availability and confirmed its authenticity as a Delacroix.  It had never before been displayed publically.  Kaywin Feldman and Patrick Noon immediately thought this picture would be a perfect way for Friends to celebrate our upcoming centennial.   I am happy to announce we are well on our way to our fundraising goal, thanks to lead donations by Friends members Nivin MacMillan, Mary Agnes and Al McQuinn, Sheila Morgan, Mary and Douglas Olson, Nikki Lewis an many others,  With ongoing fundraising, we expect to reach our goal by our  Friends Centennial Celebration in 2022.
  • Each year we work hard to enhance our endowed Transportation Fund through our Buy-A-Bus campaign, and this year was no exception. We brought 121 buses filled with 5121 school children to Mia for a docent or art adventure guide led tour, and that number does not include our busiest months of May and June.  We can be proud of the numbers of lives we touch with this program, exposing young minds to our world-class collection at Mia.
  • The Friends continued the tradition of providing nine exceptional lectures, free to the public, the second Thursday of the month, September through May. The Mark and Mary Goff Fiterman Fund generously support two of these lectures. Speakers this year were diverse as always, and ranged from Apollo art magazine’s editor Thomas Marks, to tattoo scholar and historian Anna Felicity Friedman.
  • The Friends monthly Newsletter Committee continues to deliver a very informative monthly online newsletter to our members. This year we added a special edition dedicated exclusively to Art in Bloom.  All tickets for Art in Bloom events were a simple click away.
  • Those of you who are Friends members enjoyed some special perks including Friends Only Events.
  • In the fall, we held a Friends 101 class informing members about our organization, followed by a behind the scenes look at rarely seen Andy Warhol prints in the Prints and Drawing Library, given by Mia’s curator of Prints and Drawings, Tom Rassier.
  • Our Friends Only Committee planned and executed five Friends only tours, including Mia’s new China Gate, highlights of Mia’s collection of jewelry and curator led tours of Eyewitness Views, I am Somali, and Horse Power. Our sixth Friends Only tour is scheduled for Tuesday June 12th at 11 AM.  Marla Kinney, Fellow in the Mia’s Prints and Drawing Department will led us through the exhibit “The Rabble-rouser and the Homebody:  Minnesota’s Elizabeth Olds and Wanda Gag”.  Please join us!
  • Friends Only Book Club met monthly for lively book discussions, docent led tours and refreshments.
  • The Outreach Committee started a new program with members becoming Picture People for the Art Adventure program. Friends volunteers went into the schools as Picture People and chaperoned the students at Mia for their guided tours.  Friends also donated art supplies to these students.
  • On Wednesday June 6, Friends will embark on the Art and Architecture tour of Washington, DC. The itinerary includes exclusive tours and receptions of great museums and government buildings, plus the trip is a great opportunity to enjoy friendships and camaraderie.

Again, this is a short list, but you can tell from all that goes on here, being a Friends member is a tremendous opportunity to enjoy the museum, build friendships and be part of something that enhances our communities.  I strongly encourage you to think about joining us, if you are not already a member.