Anybody in Minnesota?


4v50 Gary
July 23, 2003, 03:41 PM
Wanna review of that fancy smancy gun show at the Milwaukee Art Museum. I know the guest curators (Silver & Gustler) from my blackpowder gun building school.

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AJ Dual
July 23, 2003, 04:23 PM

Never even heard of this... There's a gun exhibit? Where, when, details... Please.

July 23, 2003, 08:56 PM
When is the display date(s)?

4v50 Gary
July 23, 2003, 11:18 PM
It's on the inside back cover of July/August 2003 Muzzleloader. It's called Three Centures of Tradition: The Renaissance of Custom Sporting Arms in America. Runs from July 12-Oct. 5, 2003.

"This exhibition will feature American gunamkers' contemporary translations of traditional European, British, and American sporting arms made between 1640 and 1940. An introductory section will also feature antique arms that served as stylistic and technological inspirations for these artists. Guest curators include gunsmith Mark Silver and Wallace Gusler, Master Gunsmith at Colonial Williamsburg."

Museum is at 2400 Third Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55404, 612-870-3131 or

July 24, 2003, 01:59 AM
I'm afraid that you are off by one state to the east. The display is in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Milwaukee is in Wisconsin.
Milwaukee is predominantely German and Polish. Rather rotund people. As you go east from Milwaukee, you get the Nordic blood. I think that Minnesota has a lot of Nodic blood. Believe me, it shows in many of their women. Anyway, a visual indication of where you are.
Minneapolis people have the Vikings and Timberwolves. Milwaukee has the Bucks and cheer for the Packers. Milwaukeeans have playoff hopes in football, Minnesotans in basketball.
Thanks for the heads up though.

4v50 Gary
July 24, 2003, 11:24 AM
Opps. My mistake and thanks for the correction. :o

Mike Irwin
July 24, 2003, 12:04 PM

Hey, it's the uppermidwest. The landscape all looks the same...

July 24, 2003, 12:11 PM
Here's a very biased review done by the left-leaning Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Review: Gun show at Minneapolis Institute of Arts misfires
Mary Abbe, Star Tribune

Published July 18, 2003 ART18

Should you be naive enough to imagine that the 65 guns now on view at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts are really just fancy-pants decorative art -- as the museum's promotional materials claim -- the gun sights will set you straight.

Angle your head just right and you can peer through the gleaming telescopic sight on the 1987 "American bolt-action rifle, Mauser" or the 1999 "American single-shot sporting rifle, Hagn action" and line up an imaginary target in the cross hairs.

You're probably not supposed to do that, because the show is framed as an exercise in history and aesthetics. You're supposed to be musing about the guns' marvelous craftsmanship and admiring the single shot's "temper-blued express sight with gold lines and a Schmidt and Bender telescopic sight in a custom-made quick detachable mount."

English-American -style (1700s) flintlock pistol

Behind the grandiose title -- "Three Centuries of Tradition: The Renaissance of Custom Sporting Arms in America" -- lurks a gun show, pure and simple. The guns date from the 1660s to today, and were custom-made for clients ranging from French royalty to contemporary collectors. Recent decades have seen a renewed interest in custom-made guns that's similar to the handicraft revival permeating everything from musical instruments and furniture to clothing and jewelry.

Some of the early guns are indeed beautifully ornamented, with gold and silver inlays and fine carving typical of 17th-and 18th-century furniture -- not surprising, because the same artisans often made furniture and weapons. The bulk of the show, however, has no such aesthetic appeal, and quickly deteriorates into a gloomy display of killing tools.

American single-shot sporting rifle, Hagn action, 1999

Most of the guns were intended for shooting game animals, birds or spinning clay discs, and there is something deeply unsettling about encountering so many of them in an art museum. There is, of course, a long tradition of art museums displaying weapons and armor as part of their medieval and Renaissance collections, notably in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. The Minneapolis museum recently added a couple of fancy early guns to its Baroque gallery, where they sit uncomfortably amid the tapestries and paintings.

Such collections are mostly holdovers from the late-19th and early-20th centuries, when rich Americans bought antique armaments in admiration of European culture and history. The "Centuries" show expands on that tradition with contemporary pieces, including some by gunsmiths affiliated with Colonial Williamsburg.

The show is, in other words, impeccably grounded in cultural history and museum practice. Even so, it feels wrong in both time and place. Minnesota's recent gun-law changes make the museum look especially hypocritical. Like most cultural organizations, it bans guns and displays signs to that effect at each entrance. Yet the show celebrates and fetishizes certain types of guns: rich people's.

The exhibition, which the museum organized, was in the works long before the new gun law was passed, but the debate about the role of guns in American life is age-old. For an art museum to start buying and showing guns -- even beautifully crafted, historically resonant models -- can be read only as an endorsement of gun culture. That's both unnecessary and offensive.

Violent double-take

By coincidence, nearby Walker Art Center is showing an exhibition of art about boxing: contemporary paintings, photos, sculptures and installations that offer various perspectives on another violent sport. The differences between the shows are significant.

The Walker's show is a nuanced meditation on many aspects of boxing, including the racial and socioeconomic tensions inherent in a sport whose champions are often economically deprived blacks battling before affluent white audiences. While some of the Walk er works play up the racial, sexual and erotic charge that courses through boxing, the sport's exploitative undercurrents are equally evident. That complexity makes the Walker's show an exemplary presentation that both informs and challenges viewers to reexamine a controversial subject.

The institute's gun show, by contrast, is nothing more than celebratory propaganda hiding behind a thin veneer of historical gimcrackery. To take the most obvious example, it touts the talents of contemporary gunsmiths but says not a word about the Eurocentric classism inherent in a blood sport whose chief practitioners are rich white men. In Britain today, such traditional blood sports as fox hunting pit rural against urban voters and raise screaming newspaper headlines. No such brouhahas cloud the sunny days of happy shooting at the institute.

There are plenty of places where a historical gun show could be contextualized so it made more sense: Colonial Williamsburg; a Western Americana museum; a hunting museum. This show's heavy emphasis on contemporary guns catapults it into the current political debates and makes the Minneapolis museum appear to be a pawn in the gun lobby's maneuverings.

In a recent long and thoughtful interview, director Evan Maurer acknowledged the contradiction in the museum's simultaneously banning and exhibiting guns. He insisted that the show was not taking sides in the public debate, and said the institute had gone out of its way to avoid partisan behavior. It did not seek funding from gun lobbyists, interest groups or manufacturers. It did, however, run ads in sporting magazines, gun-collector publications and the program for the country's biggest antique-firearms show in February. It also made gun-safety information available as part of the show.

A gun collector and skeet-shooter himself, Maurer wrote an enthusiastic introduction to the show's catalog. He fondly recalls childhood visits to the arms and armor collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where he would gaze in "reverential communion" at an elegantly engraved, gold-inlaid fowler made for Napoleon I.

The "Centuries" show includes a rifle and four matching pistols by the same gunsmith, Nicholas Noel Boutet (1761-1833). They're unquestionably splendid examples of their craft. Maurer's hope is that viewers' admiration of the Boutet guns will inspire them to visit other parts of the museum.

"Part of my job is to broaden the base of who comes to this museum," he said. "If they've come to see this exhibit, I think they're going to be interested in furniture and decorative arts, and we have a very good chance of showing that the objects they love are very similar to other objects in our collection."

Maybe. Bait and switch sometimes works as a marketing tool. But this show undermines the museum's credibility and is just as likely to offend longtime visitors.


Three Centuries of Tradition: The Renaissance of Custom Sporting Arms in America

What: Fancy title aside, "Centuries" is a gun show. It features about 65 handmade guns -- rifles, pistols, shotguns -- dating from the 1660s to today. Some are ornately carved or decorated with inlays of gold, pewter, ivory and other precious materials, but the majority are just well-made guns. Gloomy and oppressive, "Centuries" is an offensive display of high-end killing tools in an otherwise pacific setting.

When: Thru Oct. 5.

Where: Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 3rd Av. S.

Tickets: $6 adults, $5 seniors and students, $4 ages 6-12, free under age 5. 612-870-3131 or

And some letters to the editor:

Artistry of firearms

Bravo and my sincere thanks to Evan Maurer and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for presenting a firearms exhibit (Star Tribune, July 18).

The Star Tribune's refusal to print an unbiased review should not dissuade people from visiting the "Three Centuries of Tradition" exhibit. Those who are able to comprehend the skill and artistry required to create fine weapons like those on view at the MIA will find it both appropriate and compelling.

As for the gloomy display of killing tools that appears to be all your writer could see, should all the bows and arrows be removed from Native American exhibits because a visitor might associate them with violence? Should the museum refuse to display carvings and paintings that depict victory in battle?

It isn't the MIA's exhibit that missed the mark. It's the newspaper's failure to distinguish between an individual's political views and what should have been knowledgeable coverage of an excellent exhibit.

Lynda Snell, Andover.

Leave politics out of review

For the record, I am not a member of the National Rifle Association, I think the recent changes in the Minnesota gun laws were stupid and I have never owned a gun.

But the Star Tribune's July 18 critique of the gun exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts had nothing to do with art. The reviewer could not get past her politics.

I look forward to appreciating the art of this new exhibit.

Brian Bergs, Minneapolis.

Needed: An open mind

The Star Tribune's review of the Minneapolis Institute of Art's exhibit "Three Centuries of Tradition: The Renaissance of Custom Sporting Arms in America" was a waste of newspaper space.

The reviewer hated the exhibit before walking in the door. The reader would have been better served by a review written by somebody with an open mind who could appreciate the artistic ability and engineering genius of the gunsmiths.

On a positive note, it was good to see the paper devote so much space to pictures of the guns.

Les Delton, Mound.

4v50 Gary
July 24, 2003, 12:50 PM
Thank you Ready on the Right. What a disgusting view by the newspaper and I'm glad the letters to the editor voiced that perspective.

July 24, 2003, 04:53 PM
This was my letter to the author of that pathetic excuse for a review:


I found the article in which you stated that having a firearms exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art "undermines the museum's credibility and is just as likely to offend longtime visitors" pretty humorous. I guess you want to appear open-minded, but only about subjects that pass your personal political litmus test. Well, I have some bad news for you: your "review" was no more open minded than the homophobic rantings Jason Lewis spewed forth after a recent SCOTUS decision, it was just phobia from the other end of the political spectrum. I am sure that while you were viewing those "oppressive" and "offensive" killing tools it never once occurred to you that you would not have the luxury of critiquing the exhibit if it were not for the men who deployed those tools on the battlefield. Firearms are inanimate objects. They are not capable of projecting either good or evil, they are only tools in the hands of men and women. A great man once said that "an unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it." Lucky for you not everyone is willing to flee. I hope you sincerely enjoy the freedom that others fought to provide you with, maybe someday you'll even appreciate it.

David Haagensen, RN

(to make things a little clearer for you not in Minnesota: Jason Lewis is a local conservative talk show host)

July 24, 2003, 11:49 PM
As you go east from Milwaukee, you get the Nordic blood.
Please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe you meant to say west if you were referring to the direction of Minnesota. Heading east from Milwaukee would net you a whole lotta Lake Michigan. :D
Here's a very biased review done by the left-leaning Minneapolis Star Tribune.
One would be hard-pressed to find a major metropolitan newspaper with a more socialist bent than The Star Tribune (semi-jokingly referred to by locals as "The Star and Sickle"). The St. Paul paper, The Pioneer Press, is similarly left-leaning, but not to quite the same extent.


July 25, 2003, 01:54 AM
I think someone needs a compass, or GPS? :rolleyes:

July 25, 2003, 08:32 PM
Heading east from Milwaukee would net you a whole lotta Lake Michigan. There goes my attempt to sell real estate at The High Road. Typing too late at night I guess.

Andrew Rothman
May 25, 2004, 04:59 PM
Sorry for the Zombie thread, but the unbelievably inappropriate "review" of the show WON FIRST PRIZE in the Arts & Entertainment category of the 2004 Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists Page One Contest.


This is the same review that the Strib's own ombudsman said crossed the line between review and personal bias.


4v50 Gary
May 26, 2004, 12:18 AM
Those self congratulating dogs of the media's own mutual admiration society.

Heck, I'm seeing that exhibit anyway. It opens June 10 at Conner Prairie in Fishers, IN.

May 26, 2004, 12:18 AM
Hey Matt:

I missed the review first time around, but I appreciate it no less for its age. It's a great example of the kind of bias that often "slips through" the so-called mainstream media, because, at best, they don't even recognize it for what it is. That the author won a "first prize" from any organization is disturbing enough, but the fact that she won it from the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists is, well, you know.

May 26, 2004, 12:59 AM
This is the same review that the Strib's own ombudsman said crossed the line between review and personal bias.

Do you have a link to the ombudsman's comments?

Andrew Rothman
May 26, 2004, 11:54 AM
Ombudsman's (and editor's) comments:

Joel Rosenberg has a nice Blog entry about it, too...

May 26, 2004, 01:10 PM
Every story I read like this I think is the worst story ever. Then the next week something even worse is written. I am no longer suprised about anything. I guess I am suprised this pathetic author would be given a reward for something like this.

May 26, 2004, 03:58 PM
Milwaukee German, Minnesota Scandanavian...whicheverway you look at it, like my sister says "it's the land of big, white people..." heck, we only have a short three months of real summer (that's going outside without a parka over your bermuda shorts...)

At any rate, the exhibit is not to be missed, esp. if you are a fan of the Kentucky, Pennslvania longrifle genre. The price of admission is covered by just being able to see U.S. Grant's target rifle and the Napoleon set...

The modern stuff is a little weak, both for what is shown, and the explanations, but it's a minor part of the exhibit...

Go See It...

May 27, 2004, 09:35 AM
I think that the lesson to be gleaned from the review article (and the mindset of the "art" world in general) is:

Displays which offend conservatives (pornograpy or blasphemy as art) are thought-provoking, create discussion, and are positive.

Displays which offend liberals (case in point) are inappropriate, without value and unworthy of display.

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