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Best Cities for Arts: A Cultural Guide to Mankato

Best Cities for the Arts: A Cultural Guide to Mankato, Minnesota

There’s no need to make a drive to Minneapolis to get your dose of art and culture: Mankato, Minnesota, has it all. While Mankato is recognized for its pedestrian-friendly streets, beautiful nature and fabulous shopping districts, the city’s creative community also thrives. Here is your cultural guide to Mankato.

CityArt Walking Sculpture Tour - thumbnailCityArt Walking Sculpture Tour
Stretch out your legs and go for a scenic stroll throughout the downtown district and be amazed at the detailed art decorating the streets. CityArt Walking Sculpture Tour is a popular public art route, where you can view 27 rotating sculptures throughout the area. This free, self-guided tour leads you to creative displays like “Jam’ n Eggs,” “Francis,” “Corkscrew,” and other eclectic works of art. The sculptures are imported from around the world for this annual yearlong tradition, and every year the displays are different, so you can see something new and fresh on a return trip Mankato. After your walking tour, cast your vote for the best sculpture by voting online or using the ballot from CityArt brochure. The winning sculpture receives a People’s Choice Award and is purchased by the City Center Partnership for permanent installation in the City Center. The sculptures are not the only things to look for. Mankato’s City Center traffic signal boxes have transformed into works of art created by local artists. Look for the traffic boxes on street corners during the tour.
The sculptures are imported from around the world for this annual yearlong tradition. Every year the displays are different, so you can see something new and fresh on a return trip.

Art Galleries - thumbnailArt Galleries
While visiting Mankato, immerse yourself in a world where art and culture unite by exploring the art galleries in the city. One of the must-see galleries is Carnegie Art Center. Since 1981, the gallery has been showcasing gorgeous collections of paintings, potteries, artifacts, glass and photography. Each month, the gallery features a brand new exhibit for visitors to view. The artworks are brought in by talented artists of all ages from around the state. Another wonderful gallery to visit is The Emy Frentz Art Guild Gallery. This gallery is managed by a local organization that promotes its creative community through a series of pop-up exhibits in various locations. For a more intimate art experience, visit 410 Project. This small gallery features work from talented artists and is a great place to appreciate the local arts scene. Art lovers can also get crafty and register to join some of its scheduled classes to learn how to make puppets, printed shirts and seasonal crafts like pumpkin carving and holiday ornament decorating. The arts scene is also alive at Minnesota State University. MSU has its own gallery curated by art students and regional talent. Lectures occur frequently by guest artists at the gallery and are open to the public.

Mankato Symphony Orchestra - thumbnailMankato Symphony Orchestra
Let the music of Mankato put your mind at ease. Mankato Symphony Orchestra is known to host frequent concerts, including symphonies, children’s musicals and musical adaptations. If you love rock ‘n’ roll, you’ll appreciate the symphony occasionally paying homage to legendary bands like Led Zeppelin and Queen by playing some of their most popular hits. The orchestra performs at various locations in Mankato, including Verizon Center Grand Hall, Civic Center Plaza and other venues.


MSU Mankato Theatre - thumbnailMinnesota State University, Mankato’s Theatre Program
Mankato prides itself in MSU‘s prestigious theater and dance program (360° virtual tour) More Mankato icon. The program is so popular that residents from the Twin Cities will commute to the area to catch a show. (Mankato and the Twin Cities areas are approximately 90 miles apart.) Through a troupe of actors, dancers and singers, the stage comes alive with every revival of classic plays such as “Little Women,” “The Aeneid,” “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Ragtime” and more. All tickets can be purchased online in advance, and the shows are held either at Andreas Theatre or Ted Paul Theatre.


Live Music - thumbnailLive Music
Local musicians and bands are beloved in Mankato and can often be seen serenading crowds during live performances at pubs, coffee houses, restaurants and festivals. Your nights will never be dull since there is a new band to see nightly. Visit for upcoming live music shows, and show your support for the local acts. Keep your eyes peeled for big-name acts to make a stop in Mankato. Famous musicians like George Clinton, Alice Cooper and The Beach Boys have graced the stages at Verizon Center (360° virtual tourMore Mankato icon and Vetter Stone Amphitheater.


Mankato Poetry Walk - thumbnailMankato Poetry Walk
Poetry can show up in the most unexpected places, at least in Mankato it can. Make your way to Old Town (360° virtual tourMore Mankato icon for the self-guided Mankato Poetry Walk along the trails. While enjoying your nature walk or bike ride, look for random signs scattered throughout the route that consists of poetry to ponder on. The poems have been selected in a contest submitted by talented locals (within a 75-mile radius), and visitors can search for the signs using the GPS coordinates.


Insider Tip: Find art beyond the galleries. Many local businesses like Tandem Bagels, Raydiance Salon, The Landkamer Building and Coffee Hag proudly display art pieces in their establishments.

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