Gehry's Tin Man Grows Up

The Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, known by students as the Tin Man, will get a $10 million facelift

Frank Gehry, FAIA, has said that his Weisman Art Museum, which opened in 1993, was never quite finished—until now. The museum unveiled plans yesterday for an expansion, also designed by Gehry.

The Weisman is a teaching museum on the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus that specializes in 20th-century and contemporary art. It is a special project for Gehry since it was the first of many museum commissions that helped cement his reputation as an architectural star. Located on a site next to the Mississippi River, the 47,000-square-foot building is defined by undulating stainless steel forms that seem to tumble down the riverbank. Students affectionately refer to it as the “Tin Man.”

Gehry’s 11,000-square-foot expansion shows his latest sculptural flare. He has designed a new stainless steel facade that will curve out from the entry, enclosing a box-shaped volume that houses a 40-seat cafe overlooking the river. Another curving metal panel will shelter a new collaborative design studio. Behind the museum, facing the campus of mainly masonry buildings, three much-needed new galleries will be enclosed in brick-clad cubes.

Weisman director Lyndel King says that the addition will break ground by the end of this year, adding that the museum has already raised $7.5 million towards the expected $10 million construction costs.

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