Friends have Friends North and South!
The Friends organization is lucky enough to have two satellite groups—one in Rochester and one in St. Cloud—to help support the collections, programs, and influence of the museum and bring more art to their respective communities.
The Rochester Friends was founded 38 years ago by Patricia Weeks and five friends. They hosted an information meeting that inspired sixty local residents to become members to promote Mia and bring arts programming to the Rochester area. Rochester Friends invite Mia curators to speak locally and organize adult bus trips to attend lectures, tours, and special exhibitions, including Art in Bloom. They are also kind enough to sponsor coffee and treats at the monthly Friends lectures (when they’re in person). Last year, the Rochester Friends sponsored a bus to bring members and staff from the Boys and Girls Club of Rochester to Mia to tour Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists. Co-Chairs Alison Good and Sharon Parham report that the Rochester Friends Board has continued to meet via ZOOM during the pandemic, encouraging members to attend virtual lectures and tours, remind them to renew their membership, and spread the word that Mia is open and safe to visit during this unprecedented time.
The St. Cloud Friends was established 35 years ago with a similar mission to support and enhance the programs and influence of Mia. They help provide transportation for private and public school students in the St. Cloud area to attend tours at the museum. To further foster local students’ connection with art, the St Cloud Friends are award sponsors for the annual juried high school art exhibit at The Paramount Center For The Arts. The St. Cloud Friends also raise awareness of Mia’s arts programming by bringing curators and speakers to St. Cloud to present on various topics, including special exhibitions. Board Chair Amanda Falloon fondly recalls a few such events, “Our time shared with Eike Schmidt (James Ford Bell curator of decorative arts and sculpture) and his lovely wife Roberta, celebrating the museum’s 100 years, our own 30 years AND the Habsburgs was tremendous. It was Eike’s second visit to St. Cloud, and he and his wife were our overnight guests. It may, however, be Matthew Welch’s (Mia Deputy Director and Chief Curator) program on the Louvre that holds the record for our largest dinner event in recent St Cloud Friends history!”