North Dakota Museum of Art

Cause Area

  • Arts & Culture
  • Children & Youth
  • Community
  • International


261 Centennial DriveStop 7305Grand Forks, ND 58202 United States

Organization Information

Mission Statement

Mission: To foster and nurture the aesthetic life and artistic expression of the people living on the Northern Plains through exhibitions, programs, and publications which engage the region, the country, and the world.

Vision: To create the richest learning environment possible for experiencing art and developing community that affirms the highest level of respect for art, artists, and audiences.

Values: For the Museum to be successful, our most important resource, our people, must have a clear sense of where we are going, and the collaborative spirit in which we undertake that journey. Our values are guiding principles for how we will go about our work. They are guideposts to daily conduct that speak to the integrity of our behavior.

1) Rural Lens: We interpret rural life through the arts, just as we view the art of the world through a rural perspective.

2) Global Context: We place the lives of artists and audiences within the context of contemporary art and critical thought from around the world.

3) Humanities Focus: We function as a laboratory for all forms of artistic, aesthetic and cultural inquiry.

4) Collaboration: We build and nourish relationships with artists, visitors and each other.

5) Scholarship: Academic rigor and quality research underpin all museum programs and publications.

6) Stewardship: We are stewards of the public trust for the artistic environment of our region, and the human, financial and physical resources of the Museum.


It sounds too good to be true. ... In the sparsely populated state that was the very last of the all the United States to build an art museum, there is a jewel of a museum that presents serious contemporary art, produces shows that travel internationally, and succeeds in engaging the ... people of North Dakota.

Quoted in part from an article by Patrice Clark Koelsch, Executive Director of the Center for Arts Criticism in St. Paul, Artpaper, October 1991.

Executive Summary

The North Dakota Museum of Art is a cultural jewel on the prairie receiving accolades nationally for its exhibitions, innovative programming, and strong leadership. The Museum mounts world-class traveling exhibits, sponsors lectures, workshops and live music of all kinds, offers art education to school children, and provides cultural space for community social functions. It also collects works of art. The Museum has been featured several times in the New York Times and in numerous prominent art magazines during the past several years. In addition, CBS News Sunday produced two specials about the Museum and its director, Laurel Reuter. The North Dakota Museum of Art has earned a national and international reputation for excellence and innovation.

One of the North Dakota Museum of Art's commissioned works, Floodsongs, was seen at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City after opening in Grand Forks. Floodsongs later received the 1999 award for Best Video Exhibition in a Museum in the United States by the American section of the International Art Critics Association. This prestigious award was followed up by a feature article in the January 2000 issue of Art in America. That same year Museum Director Laurel Reuter received the 1999 Award of Distinction from the National Council of Art Administrators in recognition of her dedication to art and culture in North Dakota and her struggle to create a world class museum in a remote environment. The North Dakota Museum of Art is the only cultural institution in North Dakota to receive such distinguished national recognition.

The North Dakota Museum of Art is a private 501 (c) (3) tax exempt organization operated by its own Board of Trustees. Although housed on the campus, the Museum is independent of the University of North Dakota. In 1999, its affiliate, the North Dakota Museum of Art Foundation, was incorporated as a separate 501 (c) (3) tax exempt corporation to acquire and manage endowment assets.


The Museum's exhibition program brings art and artists from the region, across the United States, and around the world to North Dakota. Six or seven exhibitions are shown each year--approximately five of those exhibitions originate with the Museum, the other one or two exhibitions are traveling exhibitions. Recent hits with our audience include: Xu Bing of China, Patrick Dougherty of North Carolina, The Beaded Universe: Strands of Culture from the Mingei International Museum, a steady stream of artists from Japan who have shown over the years, and North Dakota's own Walter Piehl.

Institutional History

The Museum was founded in the mid-1970s as the University of North Dakota Art Galleries. It functioned as a temporary exhibition space in the Memorial Student Union, primarily for the benefit of University students. Recognizing the limited resources available in a state of 630,000 people spread over great distances, the 1981 North Dakota State Legislature designated the University Galleries as the official art gallery of the state of North Dakota, thereby hoping to channel all potential resources into a single multi-purpose art museum. Subsequently, from 1981 on, the State Art Museum and the University Art Gallery were to be developed as one institution, renamed the North Dakota Museum of Art. With the name change came an expanded responsibility to serve the general public while continuing to develop a parallel scholarly arm, befitting its roots within the University.

In 1989 the Museum opened its permanent home, a renovated 1907 campus gymnasium containing 16,460 square feet on two floors and a mezzanine designed by modernist architect Harvey Hoshour of Albuquerque. In 1996 the Museum underwent further institutional change when the University of North Dakota turned over management of the Museum to an independent Board of Trustees. In the spring of 1997 the region was hit by an all-encompassing flood and, over the course of the following year, the Museum became a national model for how a cultural institution can serve its public during wide-sweeping disaster. The Museum operates on a annual budget of approximately $1 million earned through annual gifts, grants and earned income.

Education and Outreach Programs

Between 35,000 and 50,000 people each year participate in Museum's programs. They might:

  • Visit an exhibition.
  • Join the ART ODYSSEY group on a trip to Mexico City or Fargo, or for a lecture by an art historian from a neighboring university, an art dealer from New York, or an nationally or internationally known artist.
  • Listen to a leading town planner as part of the Museum's Design Forum.
  • Visit the Museum's Web Site at
  • Build a gigantic junk sculpture in a children's Saturday Art Workshop.
  • Come to a gala dinner party or the annual Autumn Art Auction.
  • Hear an Irish or a Native American storyteller as part of the Museum's Reader's Series.
  • Have lunch in the Museum Cafe.
  • Attend the Elaine McKenzie Memorial Lecture by a noted artist or intellectual.
  • Participate in a World Music evening spotlighting a Balinese gamelan orchestra or a Native American flute player.
  • Join other museum friends for a Thanksgiving potluck dinner.
  • Buy an unusual piece of folk art in the Museum Shop.
  • Drop in on one of five University of North Dakota Presidential Lectures.
  • Come with a school class for a docent-led tour of the current exhibit.
  • Spend Labor Day on the campus green at the Museum's Annual Jazz Festival.
  • Visit the Museum on one's own as part of a university or college class assignment.
  • Listen to a leading European string quartet performing in the Museum Concert Series.
  • Come with friends to a video installation screening or a performance artist's presentation.
General Information

Admission: Free and open to the public

Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 5 pm

Mailing Address: PO Box 7305, Grand Forks, ND 58202-7305

phone: (701) 777-4195

fax: (701) 777-4425



The Museum, Museum Gift Shop, and Museum Cafe are wheelchair accessible.


The Museum is located on the campus of the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. You may approach the campus from either the east or west on University Avenue. Turn south off University Avenue onto Centennial Drive, a one-way horseshoe through the heart of the campus. Follow the curve halfway and watch to your left for the Museum of Art. Two special features will help you identify the Museum: a new glass and limestone entrance graces the north side of the 1907 red brick building, and the Museum is surrounded by a circle of twenty granite stones that set the building apart from its neighbors.


Thirty-minute tours are designed to introduce visitors to the Museum and current exhibitions.

These introductory tours are open to the public and are offered free of charge. Call (701) 777-4195 to schedule a tour.

To arrange a special tour customized for your group, please call (701) 777-4195 or send an e-mail inquiry to

Museum Shop

The Museum Shop, located on the main level, offers one-of-a-kind contemporary and ethnic gifts, crafts, jewelry, and art objects. Children's books, quality cards, and museum posters are here too.

Museum Cafe

Located on the lower level, the Museum Cafe offers a unique taste of coffees and lunch items. Hours are 11:00am-3:00pm.


Your membership at the North Dakota Museum of Art helps support the exhibitions and special programs brought in each year.


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