Minneapolis Institute of Art

More From Minneapolis More From Minnesota

Entities who have attach themselves to cherished
favorite rooms or things traveled to the institute.

Other entities are satisfied just to visit their items.



The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts is made up of one original elegant, neoclassical building, and two really interesting additions; one was designed and built in the Japanese minimalist style, and the other one was another whole wing, that blended in nicely with both of these styles.

This 130 year old Minneapolis Institute of the Arts has become a cultural anchor for the people of Minnesota. The institute has been very busy; “collecting, preserving, and making accessible outstanding works of art from the world’s diverse cultures”. Starting with 800 works of art in 1915, The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts now is home to more than 83,000 objects of art, that span 5000 years of human history from cultures around the world. Some of these artistic creations are “world-famous,” and are an example of the “highest levels of artistic achievement”. The MIA has seven categories: Arts of Africa & the Americas; Contemporary Art; Decorative Arts, Textiles & Sculpture; Asian Art; Paintings; Photography and New Media; and Prints and Drawings.

Colonial and turn-of-the-century life and furnishings are on display in the United States section. Exhibits in The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, that I really want to see someday are several rooms; some carefully dismantled from actual American Colonial homes, a turn-of-the-century mansion and even a room from a 1908 Frank Lloyd Wright designed home.

The Connecticut Room – Shows life of the common man in the Colonial 1700s. The actual parlor of a New Hampshire Foxhill Farmhouse, including the fireplace, is in this exhibit, and sparsely furnished by reproductions. Simple chairs, tables, an adult bed in the corner, and a Bible box that are on display, would’ve been in this multipurpose room. As this Foxhill Farmhouse was a two story structure, it was made up of only 4 rooms; 2 downstairs and 2 upstairs.

The Charleston Room – Was the original drawing room, taken directly from a 1772 London Townhouse style home of the Colonial eighteenth century era, located in Charleston, South Carolina. This glorious townhouse was once owned by British Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Col. John Stuart, shows how the other half lived. The Stuart home was at 104 Tradd Street, Charleston, South Carolina.

This drawing room was located on the second floor, and was used by Col. and Mrs. John Stuart “for lavish entertaining and leisure pastimes.” It was a widely held ideal among the wealthy class of this era, that the family’s wealth and prestige be well presented through their living style, as well as their home and its furnishings.

Just about everything in this drawing room is “ornately decorated” in the Rococo or Chippendale style, named for the English cabinetmaker and designer, Thomas Chippendale. “It is noted for its sinuous lines and beautifully carved organic ornament”.

English-trained craftsman Ezra Waite created the outstanding quality of the Rococo carving over the fireplace and door frames, as well as the precise classical proportions of the Cypress woodwork. The carved wood, the upholstered, British style furniture, the oriental rug, and the chandelier also reflect the eighteenth century tastes of Col. John Stuart.

The Duluth Room – Was the actual 1904 living room, dismantled and moved from the mansion of William and Mina Merrill Prindle, who lived in Duluth, Iowa. What is most valuable about the carefully reassembled living room is its wood paneling, and its wooden furniture as well, that also originally was used by the Prindle family in their living room in the original house.

Well-known interior designer John Scott Bradstreet, who was hired by William and Mina Prindle, was impressed by Japanese decor. Bradstreet used a chemical process to mimic the Japanese practice of jin-di-sugi, creating the wood paneling’s lovely designs.

The hand-carved furniture was also inspired by Japanese designs, that celebrated nature. The table in the room on display is called the “lotus table,” carved to resemble an Asian water lily. Likewise, many other chairs and tables have carved designs of flowers and “imaginary creatures.”

The Frank Lloyd Wright Hallway – It was part of a Lake Minnetonka summer retreat home of Frank and Mary Little, and was designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright. This hallway once led to a bedroom. The hallway was a beautiful, private place to see a glorious view of the lake. The observation windows had large areas of clear glass, framed by colored glass, creating many intricate borders and geometric patterns.

Also of great interest is the display featuring Mabel H. MacFarlane’s roll of this very valuable Chinese wallpaper on the walls of a reconstructed room, copied from a 1800 mansion of a rich merchant. The original mansion still stands today.

The MacFarlane Memorial Room – This display room was recreated to exhibit the hand-painted Chinese wallpaper, bought in New York by Mabel H. MacFarlane, around 1800. This example of a wealthy New England merchant’s 1800 formal parlor is the perfect venue to display the beautiful, imported Chinese wallpaper, that depicts a Chinese family festival, and portrays nature, animals and everyday life as well.


With just twenty-five art enthusiasts banding together, The Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts was formed in 1883. By 1915, the organization had raised the funds to build The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts that opened its doors in 1915, with the highest goal of bringing the arts into the community of Minneapolis. McKim, Mead & White built the original, older 1915 part of this large and grand institute, creating an elegant, neoclassical structure.

My, how it has evolved and grown in 130 years! Minneapolis Institute of the Arts opened with 800 works of art, and over the years has collected more than 83,000 objects, from many places and cultures in our world, and from many time periods.

In 1974, a new addition, designed by Japanese minimalist architect Kenso Tange, expanded Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, making more space for displays that was badly needed for their ever expanding art collections to be shown.

However, the major renovation and expansion project at the institute was revealed, in June 2006, proudly opening the new wing designed by architect Michael Graves. Graves’ design was complementary to both the original neoclassic style and Tange’s Japanese minimalist style, while expanding exhibition space by 40 percent, and creating thirty-four new galleries. Plus, a new Lecture Hall, Photographs Study Room, Print Study Room were added, and an Art Research Library was moved into better quarters; more easily seen and accessed.

It sounds like The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts has a lot of wonderful works of arts in many categories to see and enjoy!

“The collection includes world-famous works that embody the highest levels of artistic achievement, our objects span from about 20,000 BCE and representing the world’s diverse cultures across six continents. The museum has seven curatorial areas: Arts of Africa & the Americas; Contemporary Art; Decorative Arts, Textiles & Sculpture; Asian Art; Paintings; Photography and New Media; and Prints and Drawings.”


The fireplace wall in this display room came from a countryside framed farm house built in the mid 1700s’ near New Haven, Connecticut. The farm house itself as well as a village of mid 1700s homes were torn down to make room for  a reservoir called Lake Gaillard.  The paneled wall with the fireplace probably came from a first floor room in a home that had a massive central fireplace and a wraparound staircase.

This fireplace and its wall was installed in this exhibit in 1929, with three additional stucco walls built by The Minneapolis institute of Art.  It was configured as a parlor and bedroom of this era  in memory of Josephine Koon.

The website describes the other furniture and items added to  make a full display of a parlor and bedroom, to complement the fireplace wall. “The bed is based on an 18th-century example in the collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut. The full complement of bed hangings would have provided warmth as well as privacy.”

“The chairs show the variety of seating furniture in 18th-century New England, from those with vase-shaped splats to banister-back chairs with rush seats. The portraits, cherry tea table, and mirror decorated with chinoiserie (Asian-inspired designs), were expensive refinements in Colonial America.”

History of the Prindle Duluth Living Room –

Around the turn of the century, in 1904, William Martin Prindle (1861-1944) and Mina Merrill Prindle (1864-1963) hired  William Hunt of the firm Palmer, Hall, and Hunt, to be the architect of their new Duluth Arts and Crafts style home. the Prindle’s forever home was built to their tastes. in 1905 at 2211 Greysolon Road. Mina chose William A. French and John Bradstreet to decorate the interiors. John Bradstreet, destined to be one of the founding fathers of MIA, designed the living room; sparing no expense to create a fabulous Arts and Crafts living room that had a great view of Lake Superior.

“Bradstreet outlined the fireplace with Tiffany favrile glass and wrapped the slightly irregular rectangular room with brown-toned jin-di-sugi paneling, with carved sugi floral panels above the fireplace and at intervals around the perimiter. He included his Lotus Table in the setting.”

In 1981, The Minneapolis Museum of Art bought the Prindle House and chose the living room to be in their Period Rooms Exhibits.

History of The Charleston Drawing Room and Informal Parlor/Dining Room –

These glorious rooms were the original entertainment room and dining room, taken directly from a 1772 London Townhouse style home of the Colonial eighteenth century era, located in Charleston, South Carolina.  This glorious townhouse was once owned by British Commissioner of Indian Affairs for the British Government, Col. John Stuart, shows how the other half lived. They were the biggest rooms in the townhouse. The Stuart home was at 104 Tradd Street, Charleston, South Carolina.

This entertainment room was located on the second floor, and was used by Col. and Mrs. John Stuart “for lavish entertaining and leisure pastimes.”  It was a widely held ideal among the wealthy class of this era, that the family’s wealth and prestige be well presented through their living style, as well as their home and its furnishings. In other words, they showcased their wealth.

The original furniture  that was bought by the good Col. John Stuart was “in the rococo or Chippendale style, named for the English cabinetmaker and designer Thomas Chippendale, and is noted for its sinuous lines and beautifully carved organic ornament.”

The architectural elements of the Charleston Drawing and Dining Rooms were the work of the gifted English-trained craftsman Ezra Waite, who was responsible for numerous other pre-revolutionary Charleston interiors. Ezra Waite was popular with the folks with money. His services were in high demand because of his artistic gifts that he loved to create with; to make the rooms beautiful and special. During the Revolutionary War, Col John Stewart and family fled probably to Canada or England, never to return; probably five steps ahead of the Patriots who were bent on capturing British Officers for ransom or trade.

In 1931, the museum was gifted these two rooms by great silver collectors, James Ford Bell and his wife, Louise Heffelfinger, who created this memorial room in memory of their loved ones; James S and Sallie M. Bell.

History of the Frank Loyd Wright Hallway –

The home that Wright designed for the Littles was one of his last great Prairie School houses. The house featured windows spanning the entire lakeside elevation, giving the Littles full advantage of the impressive view. Although Wright drew elaborate designs for these windows, Mr. Little did not want an intricate pattern to obscure his view of the lake. As a compromise, large expanses of glass throughout the house have a central area of plain glass “framed” with an intricate border, getting more detailed on the sides of the window that overlook the trees.

By the late 1960s, this huge house with built-in, unmovable furnishings was becoming a financial handful for the Little’s granddaughter and her husband, so they tried to find a buyer for this famous structure. There were no takers until some determined Wright enthusiasts contacted New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art  who agreed to purchase only the house in 1972; leaving the land for the family.

“Portions of the interior were dismantled for future installation in the Metropolitan and for sale to other institutions.”

The famous hallway was bought by The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. It has been installed without its fourth wall of closets, allowing a broader view of the windows. A model of the house is located directly across from the hallway.

History of The Macfarlane Memorial Room

In the early 20th century, Americans had a moment of memorializing each other in public places, and the MIA was the beneficiary of a group of memorial rooms in the 1920s and ’30s. But the MacFarlane Room is an outlier even among this group, established four decades after the other memorials. It has been evolving  for forty years.

The Macfarlane Memorial Room exhibit was started in 1967, when Mabel MacFarlane and her son Wayne MacFarlane donated Chinese export wallpaper made in the late 1700s or early 1800s. The Macfarlane’s purchased the antique wallpaper from a reputable dealer in New York. While MIA did explore the possibilities of constructing a room in 1969, it was put on hold because of the building of the new Kenzo Tange wings, which caused the needed relocations of all period rooms from the second to the third floor.

In 1971, Mabel’s son Warren MacFarlane, Jr., died suddenly, re-energizing  the Macfarlane family to create a memorial room at The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts. The MacFarlane Memorial Room’s earliest installation survives in a photo from the 1970s that combines the stunning, hand-painted Chinese wallpaper with draperies and woodwork in what appears to be one of the predominant colors of the era—avocado green.

This Macfarlane Memorial Room continued to evolve as the years past, with the collaboration of the MacFarlanes and MIA specialists. “Curator Francis (Bill) Puig, an American decorative arts specialist, transformed the room in the 1980s. Like a curatorial superman, he swooped in to give an idea of what the room could be, based on new research, to Mrs. MacFarlane’s son Wayne and his wife, Rosalee.”

“This included updating the color scheme with gold damask upholstery and drapery fabric from Scalamandré, a reproduction of a fireplace surround and woodwork from a 1796 Boston house with plenty of Federal period street cred, and a reproduction “fitted” or wall-to-wall carpet—expensive, but possible to get in the young United States.”

“The MacFarlanes continued to work with MIA curators in the 1990s to improve the room, relentlessly searching for objects with eagles that proclaimed the power of our new nation around 1800. By 1994, the secretary bookcase from around 1760 was supplanted by a later one with an eagle on top.”

In 2015, all the furniture was removed to just display the wallpaper and leaving just the fireplace.  The exhibit was in Gallery 328, and called “Made in China: The MacFarlane Room Wallpaper” and the room was left this way until May of 2016. The exhibit was put in storage to perhaps come back at some time in the future.


Entities can attach themselves to favorite rooms, homes or things, and can travel wherever their cherished possession is moved to by the living.

Huguenot House Museum, CT (When this house was moved to a park, and restored, spirits not only came along but one even tried to help with the restoration; so much so the foreman made a list of things for him to do).

Hampton / Lilibridge Home, GA (When the house was moved a few blocks over from its original spot, spirits came along to claim their house).

The Dutton House, Maine (When the Dutton House was carefully taken apart and moved to Shelbourne structural Museum, and rebuilt carefully, the spirits who were attached to the rooms came along for the ride),

The Connecticut Colonial Foxhill Farm Parlor Room, MN (This parlor was not only a space where people socialized, but also was the master bedroom, and where families slept together in front of the fireplace to keep warm, during the cold Connecticut winters.

While alive, some entities that so enjoyed the parlor from the Foxhill Farmhouse may have decided to attach themselves to the original wooden walls, and move with the carefully dismantled room; staying with it when it was reassembled in a display room, located at The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts).

Other spirits are satisfied just to visit their items that they took pride in while living in this world, perhaps making sure that people are taking care of their favorite items.

Lilly Library, IN (Spirits attached to their old items on display in this library like to visit them).

Redwood Library & Anthenaeum, RI (The spirits of the original donors of the rare book collection don’t mind helping the living watch people who used these books to ensure that the books are safe).

The Custer House, ND (After the Custer house was rebuilt from scratch using the original plans drawn up by Custer himself and their personal items were out on display, the Custer Family likes to visit often).

Haunted Rooms on Display, or were on Display at Minneapolis Institute of the Arts Spectral Visitors

The Drawing Room, MN (Holding a British Commission Office, Col John Stewart and family probably went back to England or Canada; perhaps in a hurry, 3 steps ahead of the Patriots, leaving their special home in Charleston forever. Perhaps they like to visit their beautiful Drawing Room used for Entertainment and dining room, to remember all their fond memories of dinners they enjoyed with their guests and family.

The other possibility may be that spirits that are attached to the antiques added to the rooms may want to visit their valued items.

The Prindle Living Room, MN (When it was still on display, perhaps the spirits William and Mina Merrill Prindle may like to visit their unique living room, and admire the paneling and their unique furniture, perhaps very pleased that the living can see how culturally advanced Duluth, Iowa could be)!

The Frank Lloyd Wright Hallway – Perhaps members of the Little Family still like to visit this hallway, and remember the view of the lake seen from its windows.

The MacFarlane Memorial Room  Perhaps when the room was still on display, Mabel MacFarlane and family liked to visit the Chinese wallpaper on display, as this was the family’s donation to honor their loved one.  Perhaps they yearn to see their room on display once more.


Prindle Living Room, Lloyd Wright Hallway.

There are unexplained moving and stationary cold spots, that are not always there.

This suggests that the spirits who were in here are just visiting for a time and then go back to the spirit world.

MacFarlane Memorial Room

There were unexplained moving and stationary cold spots here as well.

The spirits in the MacFarlane Memorial Room were probably the family members who worked so hard to make this project become a reality.

They had enjoyed studying the Chinese wallpaper now that a full explanation was offered about what the wallpaper depicts.

The Connecticut Colonial Foxhill Farm Parlor Room.

The room with the most intense unexplained cold spots is The Connecticut Colonial Foxhill Farm Parlor Room.

While they move, they seem to always be there.

Charleston Drawing and Dining Room.

While cold spots move, they seem to always be there.

This suggests that the spirits who are felt here are perhaps really attached to this room; perhaps attaching themselves to the wood paneled walls.


Visitors and staff have reported feeling extreme cold spots in these museum rooms, especially in The Colonial Foxhill Farm Parlor Room.

MINNESOTA PARANORMAL SOCIETY experienced frigid cold spots throughout, especially in the Connecticut Room. Despite efforts in EVP sessions, no contact was made with any unseen presences that may have been the cause of the cold spots.  No logical or rational explanation was found though as to why this extreme areas of cold exist.



Perhaps, but it is not known for sure; especially since some of the rooms are not currently on display.  Not enough activity has been experienced or captured on investigation equipment, though plenty of people have noticed the abnormal, moving cold spots that have no natural explanation.

Only one of the generic tell-tale signs of unseen presences has been experienced and recorded; cold spots. Perhaps a psychic medium can give a fuller picture of what these cold spots are caused by. Spirits are more apt to feel more comfortable with a psychic medium, and come forward if the right person comes for a visit.

Perhaps the spirits still visit, hoping to see their room once again on display. Or perhaps other spirits who are attached to the items on display in these rooms that were not originally with the historic room now are the current spirits who may be visiting their stuff.



Minneapolis Institute of Art
2400 Third Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404
(888) MIA-ARTS (642-2787)

The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts can be found one mile south of downtown Minneapolis at the intersection of 3rd Avenue South and East 24th Street. It is two blocks west of the 35W Freeway, on 3rd Avenue South, between East 24th and 25th Street.




    • “Haunted Minnesota Twin Cities Metro Area” page on Minnesota Paranormal Society web site
    • Minneapolis Institute of Art – About the Museum
    • “Haunted Places in Minneapolis to Visit” by K.J. Castle, Demand Media, for USAToday Travel Tips
    • Minneapolis Institute of Art – “American Period Rooms”

Prindle Duluth Room MIA

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