If you are interested in history, literature or just having fun, you’ll find Mankato’s museums to be worth a visit. The Blue Earth County Historical Society operates the History Center Museum, Research Center, and gift shop as well as the Historic R.D. Hubbard House in Mankato. The Betsy-Tacy House brings the classic books of Maud Hart Lovelace to life as you get a glimpse into the past. Be sure to visit the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota where you’ll find the perfect combination of Southern Minnesota’s rich culture in a hands-on, interactive learning environment.
Mankato is a regional hub for art and culture. You will find art out in the open on our City Center streets and in several established galleries. Take a moment to visit one of Mankato’s art galleries including the historic Carnegie Art Center, the 410 Project, and Twin Rivers Council for the Arts.
Take a stroll along Riverfront Drive, by Reconciliation Park, and you will find the Mni Mural (“mni” means “water” in the Dakota language) on a 500-foot section of the flood wall along the Minnesota River. The mural illustrates what the river looked like before settlement and incorporates images of fish native to the Minnesota River. The mural helps highlight the flood wall stretching from the Depot to Reconciliation Park, drawing attention to the trail system access. The mural “Kites” incorporates abstract color and beauty to its surroundings. Patterns of bright, bold colors dance across the Riverfront Drive retaining wall. Many businesses in the City Center of Mankato and North Mankato are adding new murals each year.
Theater, Theater, Theater
The Mankato area offers a variety of options for the theater lover. Minnesota State University, Mankato Theatre and Dance has several performances every year. More than 35,000 patrons witness, support, and enjoy the department’s offerings each year, ranking it in the nation’s top one percent of colleges in theater attendance. Other area colleges including Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato and Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter have excellent theater programs. If you want a unique theater experience, The Merely Players Community Theatre brings art to the community through its theatrical performances year-round. The Merely Players also offer special performances at local establishments. The Mankato Playhouse is Mankato’s newest theatre featuring high quality musical theater performances and Broadway Teen Workshops. Better yet, this is a dinner theater offering delicious meals and drinks in a fun atmosphere.
Local Theaters Seasonal Schedules
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Music & Dance
Enjoy musical and dance performances throughout the year in Mankato. Catch a performance of the Mankato Ballet or Dance Conservatory of Southern Minnesota. Experience the power of music at a concert by the Mankato Symphony Orchestra or Minnesota Valley Chorale.
Established in 2011, CityArt, LLC works to enhance the quantity, quality and prominence of public art in the Mankato/North Mankato City Center. CityArt is a joint program of the City Center Partnership and Twin Rivers Council for the Arts dedicated to bringing public art to the community, contributing greatly to the vibrancy of the City Center and the community as a whole.
This exciting exhibit of outdoor sculptures is displayed year-round in the City Center of Mankato and North Mankato, Minnesota. Artists place their sculptures in the program for one year. The sculptures are promoted to the public for sale. Artists are eligible to win cash awards, as well as the possibility of having their piece voted The People’s Choice and purchased by CityArt for permanent installation. Check out this year’s tour!
Pedestrians and drivers in City Center Mankato enjoy something unexpected as infrastructure is transformed to art On the Go. The exhibit includes 20 traffic box murals and The Mni Mural on the Mankato Flood Wall. Can you spot them all?
Public art can be found throughout the City Center in the form of sculptures, murals, monuments and other elements of interest. Some public art in acquired for the community through the Walking Sculpture Tour; other pieces are commissioned for specific locations. Take the Public Art Tour!
In 2018, international artist Guido van Helten was commissioned to complete a mural on the Ardent Mills silos in downtown Mankato by CityArt—a joint venture of Twin Rivers Council for the Arts and the City Center Partnership. CityArt works to enhance the quantity, quality and prominence of public art in the City Centers of Mankato and North Mankato. For almost a decade, CityArt had been strategizing about ways to incorporate artwork onto the silos and thanks to van Helten and a group of generous donors, Silo Art is now telling a story of Greater Mankato.
Learn more about the artist and Silo Art project at CityArt Mankato.