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Artful Living | Minneapolis Institute of Art Friends of the Institute

Photography by Spacecrafting

Gummy Grande and Heidi Ault

Friends of the Institute

Gal pals Elizabeth “Gummy” Grande and Heidi Ault love to throw a good party. So it made sense that when Ault joined Friends of the Institute — an organization of members dedicated to supporting, enhancing and sustaining the collection, programs and influence of the Minneapolis Institute of Art — and was tapped to oversee Mia’s annual Art in Bloom preview party, that she would ask Grande to join her. Grande’s mother-in-law had been a Mia docent, so it was an easy yes from her — though they were both a little worried about living up to the event’s reputation.

“Art in Bloom is such a huge celebration because to have a treasure like Mia free and open to the public is just incredible,” says Grande. “I think of it as a beloved event that’s now really a part of the city, expanded past the museum.” This year’s jubilee included a festive seated dinner in Mia’s Jade Corridor.

Then the duo learned how inclusive and easy it is to be a Friends member, raising money for bus transportation for schoolchildren and supporting Mia as a free, available treasure trove of art for the greater Twin Cities community. “The Friends are open to absolutely anyone,” Grande enthuses. “You can volunteer as little or as much as you’d like.” Members also get special access to lectures and other educational events. 

This year, as part of the Friends’ centennial celebration, the now-seasoned pair has been busy planning a fashion show for the vaunted volunteer group to take place in October. Additional festivities dot the calendar, including a Cargill Gallery exhibition, a walking tour of the historic Washburn-Fair Oaks neighborhood, and a partnership with the Hennepin History Museum to view artifacts and photos of the first Friends president. Plus the joy and life that the Art in Bloom flora brings will be permanently memorialized with a fitting gift funded by the Friends: the painting “Still Life with Dahlias, Zinnias, Hollyhocks and Plums” by Eugène Delacroix.

“How cool is it that your organization is responsible for a signature artwork that’s so special and beautiful?” Ault exclaims. “It’s super exciting to be a part of this legacy and to know it will be in the museum for hundreds of years to come.”

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.

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