Do you recognize these stairs? Despite dating from the 1920s, the scene is still readily recognizable to many Minneapolitans today. Yes, those are the front steps to the Minneapolis Institute of Art. We haven’t yet successfully tracked down the details about the dancers in this photograph — a note on the back dates it to 1923 — but Mia’s steps have been a favorite location ever since the museum opened to the public in 1915. Events of all sorts were held on the museum’s Third Avenue steps: pageants, dance performances, even a community sing-along. Crowds could gather in Washburn Fair Oaks Park below — although if this scene really does date to 1923, the park was still home to the by-then dilapidated Fair Oaks mansion. The mansion was demolished in 1924 with the support of both park district and museum officials; they hoped to further landscape the park to enhance the grand entrance depicted in this photograph.
Image from Hennepin History Museum’s collection. Learn more about the museum and its offerings at hennepinhistory.org or 870-1329.