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Best Iconic Works Of Art In The Twin Cities

Does art define a culture? Five iconic works of art in Minnesota tell the story of its people in a way that would win over the most unconvinced skeptic. These icons offer a bold statement of its citizens' well-being, decorum, humanity, intellect and politics. Take a look at these works and see if you agree that they define the essence of Minnesota culture.
Spoonbridge and Cherry

Spoonbridge and Cherry
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
On Vineland Place across from the Walker Art Center
Minneapolis, MN 55403
(612) 375-7600

Price: Walker Art Center price - $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for students, children are free
Hours: Center open Tues to Sun - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thurs - open until 9 p.m., Mon - closed
Hours: Sculpture Garden open 24/7

Actually a fountain, with water flowing over the surface of the cherry and a fine mist rising from its stem, you can see it to your left when entering downtown Minneapolis on Hennepin Avenue. Sculptor Claus Oldenburg had drawings and plans of a spoon for a number of works, but when his wife and collaborator, Coosje van Bruggen, added the cherry on the top, it became an epitome of Minnesota lifestyle. Always rated highly, Minnesota's "Overall Well-being" was most recently ranked third in the nation on Gallup-Healthways' Well-Being Index. Life is just a spoon of cherries.

Related: Overlooked Sculptures At The Walker Sculpture Garden

Mary Tyler Moore Statue
(credit: Mike Ekern/Getty Images)

Mary Tyler Moore Statue
700 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN

Price: Free
Hours: 24/7

"Minnesota Nice" is what they call it. Everyone in the state knows it. What better way to express it than a statue of genial, well-mannered Mary Richards, played by Mary Tyler Moore, tossing her hat as she did in the opening credits of the 1970s sitcom set in Minneapolis. The TV Land-funded statue was designed by sculptor Gwendolyn Gillen and is a favorite around town.

Lucretia by Rembrandt

Minneapolis Institute of Art
2400 3rd Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55404
(612) 870-3000

Free admission.
Hours: Tues to Sun - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thurs - open until 9 p.m., Mon - closed

Memorialized by Roman historian Livy, Lucretia took her life instead of living in dishonor saying "My body is greatly soiled, though my heart is still pure, as my death will prove," after being raped by the son of a Roman ruler. Rembrandt depicted this suicide as being done in front of her husband and father. According to the Institute, "Rembrandt used the story of Lucretia as the subject for two of his most moving paintings in which he represented two moments in the tragedy of Lucretia's suicide." The picture on permanent display in Minneapolis shows Lucretia clutching a knife with a blood-stained dress; the other at The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC depicts her just before she takes her life.

Related: Museums To Exhibit 'Most Authentic' Rembrandts

(credit: CBS)

Weisman Art Museum
333 East River Road
Minneapolis, MN 55455
(612) 625-9494

Price: Free
Hours: Tues, Thurs and Fri - 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wed - 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sat and Sun - 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The sweeping, glimmering metal panels that clad the building speaks to its mission of "creating art experiences that spark discovery, critical thinking and transformation, linking the University and the community." The design won the prestigious Progressive Architecture Design Award in 1991. Frank Gehry, the architect "created a museum that is simultaneously accessible, functional and intriguing, as well as immediately identifiable as belonging to the world of art," according to museum documents. The building itself serves as a symbol of Minnesota character.

Floyd Olson Statue at Minnesota State Capitol

Floyd B. Olson Statue
The approach to the Minnesota State Capitol‬
‪75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
St Paul, MN 55155‬

As first Farmer-Labor Governor of Minnesota in 1931, Olson helped found one of few successful third parties in American history. "Olson spoke more vehemently against 'the failure of government and our social system to function in the interests of the common happiness of the people,'" according to the Minnesota Historical Society. The party was merged with the Democratic Party on April 15, 1944 largely through the efforts of another state political icon, Hubert H. Humphrey, to form what is known as the Democratic Farmer-Labor party. To this day, The Minnesota Statehood Centennial Commission Statue Committee placed a statue of Floyd B. Olson at the approach to the state capitol and dedicated it on Labor Day of 1958.

What is your favorite Minnesota work of art -- the Kirby Puckett statue at the new ballpark or the Paul Bunyan statue in Brainerd? Give us your opinion in a comment below.

Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at

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