Visit the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona

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The Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona is a must-see for art appreciators

Visit the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona

By Sheila Regan

Located on the bank of the Mississippi River in Winona, the Minnesota Marine Art Museum opened in 2006 and has been buttressing its collection of art loosely themed around oceans, the sea, rivers and lakes ever since.

As one of Minnesota's many historic Mississippi River towns, Winona and its vibrant arts community have long been informed by the river and its lush natural surroundings. Although still relatively young, the Minnesota Marine Art Museum (MMAM) is now a major draw for visitors both local and international, and its presence has helped cement Winona's reputation as one of Minnesota's most vibrant arts scenes.

Tucked inside MMAM’s cottage style building, which overlooks the Mississippi River from a lovely perch of native plants and grasses, you’ll find incredible art works of the caliber you would come across in major museums in large cities.

Exterior photo of the Minnesota Marine Art Museum and its lush natural surroundings

No visit to Winona is complete without a trip to the Minnesota Marine Art Museum

Main Collections at Minnesota Marine Art Museum

MMAM's works are separated into three main collections: European, American and contemporary.

The European collection showcases examples of impressionist artists, cubism and other late 19th-century and modern works. Its American collection is also nothing to snuff at, with gorgeous Hudson River School examples and other works that celebrate the beauty of the American landscape.

The museum also has a growing contemporary collection, anchored by the work of Winona-area artists Leo and Marilyn Smith, who draw on the people, nature and history of the Mississippi Region to create their whimsical wood carvings. The contemporary collection also includes a robust exhibition schedule, which features artists that use water as inspiration in mediums such as photography, painting, printmaking and sculpture.

Painting of General Washington and a group of American revolutionaries crossing the Delaware River

"Washington Crossing the Delaware," by Emanuel Leutze

Must-See Artworks at Minnesota Marine Art Museum

Minnesota Marina Art Museum holds its own with masterworks by European greats, modern blue-chip stars, iconic American seascapes and edgy contemporary exhibitions. Here are a few of the museum’s standout works that every visitor should see to make the most of a visit.

  1. "Washington Crossing the Delaware," 1851
    "Washington Crossing the Delaware," 1851

    Emanuel Leutze
    Oil on canvas

    The original version of Emanuel Leutze’s sweeping majesty of a painting depicting George Washington leading a surprise attack during the American Revolution was destroyed during World War II. Fortunately for us, the artist made two other versions of the work—one owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and the other housed at MMAM, after being on view at the White House’s West Wing for 35 years.

  2. "La Riviére," 1881
    "La Riviére," 1881

    Paul Cézanne
    oil on canvas

    Post-impressionist artist Paul Cézanne, whom art historians have said helped create a bridge between the impressionist movement and the modern art era, evokes a dream in bright colors, applying his soft brushstrokes to the canvas in his vibrant interpretation of the river reflecting the sky. The trees become the main figure in the work as they rise from the banks across the water and bolster the setting's aura of serenity and solitude.

  3. "Arles: The Arena Before the Rhone II," 1960
    "Arles: The Arena Before the Rhone II," 1960

    Pablo Picasso
    Oil on canvas

    Bullfighting was a subject Pablo Picasso returned to throughout his career, including in his masterpiece Guernica from 1937. This later work draws inspiration from the South of France, in the city of Arles at the bank of the Rhône River, where the artist paints a bullfight arena. Accented with strokes of bright red, Picasso captures the movement and violence of the ring, as well as its sense of celebration.

  4. "Flower Arrangement Near the Seaside," 1959
    "Flower Arrangement Near the Seaside," 1959

    Marc Chagall
    Oil on canvas

    Part still life, part romantic scene, Chagall’s painting swirls with color and emotion. In the foreground, flowers burst with life, while behind them a couple in a boat smooches amidst the orange twilight, floating on as a gigantic fish leaps out of the water. Above the couple, a glowing moon holds two faces within.

  5. "The Warning," 2007
    "The Warning," 2007

    Jamie Wyeth
    Mixed media on paper

    Watch out, because this seagull made by Jamie Wyeth (son of Andrew Wyeth and grandson of N.C. Wyeth) is flying straight for you! Crushing, black-green waves depict the sea as a dangerous place, and the seagull—with glimpses of its compatriots seen behind it—looks ferocious and powerful.

  6. "Lake George Autumn," 1922
    "Lake George Autumn," 1922

    Georgia O'Keeffe
    Oil on canvas

    Theres a compelling simplicity to Georgia OKeeffes painting of an autumn morning at Lake George, located in New York's Adirondack Park. The mist the water emits is transformed by O’Keeffe’s brush into an ominous grayish blue mass of color that makes up the top half of the painting. Then, in stark contrast, OKeeffes tangerine shading of the grounds overlooking the water are almost alien, and very alive. The painting sparkles with expression and energy.

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More Minnesota Museums & Galleries

Museums dedicated to art, history, science and more are scattered throughout Minnesota. From family-focused children's museums to world-renowned art showcases, you'll love exploring Minnesota's museums and galleries

Sheila Regan

Sheila Regan is a freelance writer, journalist and arts critic based in Minneapolis. She has covered dance, theater and the arts, in addition to news writing and feature reporting for local publications as well as national outlets, including Hyperallergic, the Washington Post, The Art Newspaper, ArtForum and Bomb.