Minnesota Museum of American Art in downtown St. Paul appoints new Executive Director – Twin Cities


The Minnesota Museum of American Art (The M) has a new executive director, the first woman of color to lead the museum.

The Board of Trustees of the Downtown St. Paul Museum announced Thursday that Kate Beane will be the 10th Executive Director. Beane most recently served as Director of Native American Initiatives at the Minnesota Historical Society. She will start her work at M on December 13.

Beane replaces Kristin Makholm, who was released from her post in July 2020. She had been director of M for over a decade.

The M is halfway through a massive remodel of the historic Pioneer Endicott building on Fourth and Robert streets. The first phase measures 18,700 square feet and includes galleries, public spaces and a creativity center. The $ 12.5 million space opened in December 2018. A second phase, which was due to be completed in 2020 but has been delayed, will add more galleries and fill the first floor of the Pioneer Endicott building complex.

Beane said Thursday afternoon that the M would likely remain closed until 2023, reopening the entire museum with both phases completed. She will lead the completion of the project, along with expanded programming and “deep engagement with diverse artists and communities,” according to a press release.

Beane is Dakota and says her family were among the displaced natives of Minnesota. Its ancestral villages were along the rivers in the Twin Cities and its inhabitants are artists, storytellers and community leaders, says Beane.

The location of the M near the Mississippi is significant to Beane. “In all the Twin Cities and the region, people are waking up to the value of the river and the connection with it. “

Beane (Flandreau Santee Sioux Dakota and Muskogee Creek) holds a BA in Native American Studies and a PhD in American Studies from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. As Director of Native American Initiatives at the Minnesota Historical Society, she has advised the historical society on best practices for incorporating Indigenous perspectives and voices into institution projects and at historic sites.

Previously, Beane was the Historical Society Outreach and Program Manager working with the region’s Dakota communities. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Native American Studies at the University of Minnesota; board member of Vision Maker Media, Native Governance Center, Lower Phalen Creek Project in East St. Paul; and member of the Urban Native American Indian Advisory Board for the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council. Beane was also appointed by Governor Tim Walz to serve on the Architecture and Planning Council for the Capitol region.

She and her husband live in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis with their two daughters.

The M remains closed since the end of the pandemic, but exhibits are displayed in the windows of the museum. For information: mmaa.org.


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