Before the Museums Came – A Virtual Tour of the TC’s Arts Heritage

Open Access Week (October 20-26) just wasn’t long enough to explore all the permutations on the theme. And so we saved the best for last with celebration of a most wonderful open access book. Before the Museums Came: A Social History of the Fine Arts in the Twin Cities, is the brilliant and beautiful creation of publisher, social historian and attorney Leo John Harris. The book and the creator deserve a bonus day of celebration.

Before the Museums Came offers a virtual walk through Minnesota’s fine arts history – actually through the private fine arts collections of some of the state’s most renowned titans of business and politics.   Harris, creator of the open access book, is perhaps best known as the founder of Pogo Press, publisher of arts, history and popular culture. Harris has ventured into open access publishing with his usual commitment to produce a work of significance and beauty.

Focus of this social history of the area’s arts community is on the era spanning the years 1835 till establishment of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 1915. Among the noted collectors whose names and stories are known to 21st Century Twin Citians are T.B. Walker and J.J. Hill, both of whom established massive private collections of art from around the globe, collections that established the roots of today’s museums.

Capitalizing on the potential of open access publishing Harris leads a tour through the private collections as well as the institutions and organizations that were created in support of the fine arts. He guides the reader through the early art exhibits and events, the collectors, dealers and artists whose efforts breathed life into the thriving arts community that locals and visitors from around the world enjoy today.

John Lindley, director of the Ramsey County Historical Society, writes that “Harris adroitly explains how art dealers, critics, architects, academics, public libraries, and artists all contributed to the vibrant community interest in the fine arts. As a social history of the fine arts, this book succeeds in documenting the Twin Cities art community prior to 1915 with depth and detail that is unavailable elsewhere. “

The thoroughly researched text is enriched and supplemented by reproductions of artworks, photographs of key players, exhibition sites, studios, art galleries, catalogs and ephemera.  The result is both a scholarly work and a unique reading/viewing experience.

Don’t look for a coffee table book at your favorite indie! This is a virtual tome, downloadable at the click of the key. It’s published by DeGruyter Open (formerly Versita), one of the world’s leading publishers of open access content.   Though the emphasis of Open Access Week is on scholarly and research works, Harris’ unique exploration of the Twin Cities arts heritage is a breakthrough adventure that will not just inform but delight anyone with an eye for the visual arts and a love for the storied roots of our robust arts community

Click here http://www.degruyter.com/view/product/207417 to explore the heritage and to wonder at the possibilities when creativity and technology share a mission and a vision.

 

 

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