This is an extraordinary moment for the Walker Art Center. In June 2001, the Walker formally purchased the neighboring Allianz Life Insurance Building. This 3.4 acre property will provide the museum with a wonderful opportunity to significantly expand its facility for the first time in 30 years.
The purchase of the adjoining land could not have come at a better time for the Walker. For many years, the museum has badly needed additional space to meet the growth in attendance, programs, and collections as well as an increased emphasis on education. In order to create a model 21st-century arts center, the Walker is adding approximately 130,000 square feet to its current facility, nearly doubling its size.
After an extensive international search, the Walker selected the renowned Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron to develop a site plan for the museum's campus and design its expansion. Highlights of an expanded Walker Art Center include new galleries and gardens for the museum's growing collection; a 385-seat theater; imaginative facilities for innovative education programs; rooftop terraces with spectacular views of downtown; and many visitor amenities, including a new restaurant, cafe, shop, and extensive underground parking. A key aspect of the design will be a town square that will draw people for conversation, interactive learning, and community programs.
Without question, the expansion project will allow the Walker Art Center to remain a cherished resource in the Twin Cities and one of the most vital and dynamic cultural institutions in the world.
"'The building is conceived like a lantern,' [Jacques] Herzog said. 'It's a blur between solid, translucent, and transparent. The skin is not a piece of glass but a fabric lit from behind with undulations and a sense of depth. It's got nothing to do with anything you've ever seen before. . . . It will be magic and sexy.'"
- Star Tribune , April 21, 2002