MCAD Milestones | Minneapolis College of Art and Design

MCAD Milestones

MCAD has been educating creative leaders, artists, designers, thinkers, and entrepreneurs for more than a century. Still today the college is a renowned, dynamic institution for a diverse community of creative students from the Twin Cities to Shanghai.

Illustration of the Public Library, which housed the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts

MCAD has been educating creative leaders, artists, designers, thinkers, and entrepreneurs for more than a century. Still today the college is a renowned, dynamic institution for a diverse community of creative students from the Twin Cities to Shanghai.

1883

The Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts is formed to raise interest in the fine arts through teaching and exhibitions.

1886

The Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts establishes the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts in a rented apartment in the downtown area. Douglas Volk, an accomplished portrait painter who studied with Jean-Léon Gérôme in Paris, becomes the school’s first Director (and, initially, its sole instructor).

1889

The school finds a more permanent home on the top floor of the new Minneapolis Public Library at Tenth Street and Hennepin.

1893

Noted painter Robert Koehler moves from New York to Minnesota to become Director of the school. Over the next ten years, he develops much of the curriculum that is known today as the art education field.

1899

Mary Moulton Cheney, an advocate and practitioner of the Arts and Crafts movement, is hired to develop a program in Design, which will eventually include courses in jewelry, weaving, book and graphic design.

1910

The name of the school is changed to the Minneapolis School of Art.

1911–1915

The Society of Fine Arts raises funds to build the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Mia), which opens its doors in 1915. The School is temporarily housed in the museum until Ethel Morrison Van Derlip and her brother Dr. Angus Washburn Morrison pledged $50,000 to construct the school’s first permanent facility—the Julia Morrison Memorial Building—designed by prominent Minneapolis architect Edwin Hawley Hewitt.

1917–1918

Mary Moulton Cheney becomes the school’s first female president. President Cheney is deeply involved in the Handicraft Guild, a part of the arts-and-crafts movement.

Artist Wanda Hazel Gág '17 attends the Minneapolis School of Art. Her children’s book Millions of Cats is the oldest American picture book still in print today.

1943

Acclaimed Ojibwe artist George Morrison '43 graduates from the Minneapolis School of Art and later moves to New York, where he joins a circle of abstract expressionists that includes Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, and Willem de Kooning. Morrison later returns to Minnesota to work and teach.

1963

Rob Roy Kelly '52, a printmaking and graphic design faculty member, designs the flying G logo for the newly opened Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

1970

Under the leadership of President Arnold Herstand, the Minneapolis School of Art becomes the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), reflecting its highly regarded bachelor of fine arts degree. Often in collaboration with the Walker ARt Center, President Herstand launches an extensive visiting-artists program and one of the country’s first courses in intermedia—a new field exploring the simultaneous use of sound, light, color, and movement.

1974

President Arnold Herstand oversees the construction of a new building, conceived alongside the Children’s Theatre Company and new wings of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Mia)—these modernist buildings represent some of the only projects in the United States designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Kenzo Tange.

1981

MCAD partners with the Jerome Foundation to launch the Jerome Foundation Fellowship for Early Career Artists. 

1988

After more than one hundred years of shared history, the MCAD and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts become autonomous organizations. President G. Richard Slade oversees the establishment of a separate administration and board of trustees.

1990s

After launching a master of fine arts degree program and expanding studio facilities, President John S. Slorp creates a new Minnesota tradition with the annual MCAD Art Sale

The college’s computer labs are significantly expanded and digital work becomes a larger part of the academic curriculum.

2000s

The college expands its enrollment, increases its housing capacity, and under the direction of President Michael O’Keefe, launches a new four-year curriculum and a laptop initiative that are now viewed as national models. I.D. magazine names the college one of the nation’s Top Ten Design Schools.

2009

Jay Coogan is named president of the college.

2010

MCAD launches the fully online Master of Arts in Sustainable Design.

2011

MCAD celebrates its 125th anniversary with a series of events including a lecture by  MCAD alum James Rosenquist.

As part of its commitment to public art, MCAD establishes the Sculpture Garden which is filled with both permanent and rotating works created by MCAD students, alumni, faculty members, and invited artists. 

2018

MCAD adds a new Product Design major and fully online Master of Arts in Graphic and Web Design.

2019

Sanjit Sethi is named nineteenth president of the college.

Today

The college is home to nearly eight hundred students from forty states and thirteen countries. The college offers undergraduate and graduate degrees; continuing education programs; certificate programs; online learning programs; youth programs; and free exhibitions and lectures.