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Minnesota Center for Book Arts at the Loft Literary Center

1011 South Washington Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55415
Admission: $0.00
Gallery Admission is Always Free; Classes are Fee Based
Hours of Operation:
Mon. 09:30 AM - 06:30 PM
Tue. 09:30 AM - 09:00 PM
Wed. 09:30 AM - 06:30 PM
Thu. 09:30 AM - 06:30 PM
Fri. 08:30 AM - 06:30 PM
Sat. 09:30 AM - 06:30 PM
Sun. 12:00 PM - 05:00 PM

A respected and dedicated champion of the field, Minnesota Center for Book Arts is the largest and most comprehensive center of its kind. MCBA strives to celebrate the book as a vibrant contemporary art form that takes many shapes. MCBA's mission is: to lead the advancement of the book as an evolving art form.

Weekend Family Classes at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts

MCBA offers hands-on, book-themed parent/child art classes led by instructor Ellen Ferrari on weekends. Workshops are made to accommodate all skill and development levels. Each class begins with a story and a game to spark creativity. The families can work together or separately on their own creation. Projects include pop-up books, candy book binding, printing, marbling, and more. Find classes and register here. MCBA classes is one of our favorite picks for Arts and Crafts for Kids Around Town.

A Visit to the Minnesota Center for Book Arts

The day the 2nd grade class invaded MCBA was a loud and exciting day for us all. We unloaded the bus and trudged into Open Book through the back door.

After sitting in the lobby and learning the history (built in a renovated flour mill) and facts about the Open Book building (much of the architecture is designed to represent books), we were ushered into a large workroom to prepare to make dragon books.
You may be asking what is Minnesota Center for Book Arts? What does Book Arts even mean?  If you are, you are not alone. In my mind there was art and there was literature (i.e. books). "What can Book Art mean?  Are we ripping pages out of books and creating works of art out of books? Is this the future of books since people keep threatening that that bound books are on their way out with the new world of e-books?"
 Loudly and resoundly, I  cry, "NO!"
Minnesota Center for Book Arts
looking into an office in The Loft
Literary Center
Open Book is a building that is home to three different companies: The Loft Literary Center (can we say amazing writing classes?), Milkweed Editions (a publishing company), and Minnesota Center for Book Arts (this still-ambiguous term).
The MCBA's  mission is "to advance the book as a vital contemporary art form, preserve the traditional crafts of bookmaking, inspire diverse artists and learners and engage audiences in educational, creative and interpretive experiences."
Basically, MCBA makes it possible for us to see a Book as more than simply words on paper binded together.
Books themeselves are art.
At MCBA you may get to make paper, you may get to letterprint a book, you may get to bind a book.  Or you may get your art juices flowing and create a book that looks like a dragon out of a single 11x17 piece of cardstock.
Minnesota Center for Book Arts
At least that is what we did.  When I say we, I specifically mean a large bunch of 7 and 8 year olds.  The parents got to run around and supervise the paperclipping and cutting.  But most importantly, we got to sharpen pencils.  Oh, by the time we were leaving quite a few of us were fantastic at sharpening pencils!  (not that we were having a contest or anything)
MCBA is one of the most unique experiences that I have ever had.  The staff is kind and thorough  all the while being soft-spoken and direct.
Minnesota Center for Book Arts
Our teacher Lucy
You could tell that they really enjoy their work both the creative aspects and the relational components.  They were prepared, eager to see the kids succeed, and communicated their expectations well.
Minnesota Center for Book Arts
The room we were in was an old warehouse room.  Lots of the walls were bare old brick (I know that has some kind of decorating term but here is where I show my lack of vocabulary).  We sat a huge U-shaped bar that was able to seat 27 second graders.
Minnesota Center for Book Arts
Here is Kyla demonstrating what her true first initial is.
She was pretty excited.
We spent an hour and a half there and by the time the class was done, each participant was able to bring home a beautiful dragon book.  Some had even written their stories already.

Highlights of a Minnesota Center for Book Arts Visit

  • The building is gorgeous.  There is also a coffee shop on the first floor to enjoy.
  • The staff was so friendly and helpful.  You could tell they were sincere because when you have that many second graders to work with, you better like it.
  • The project was a challenge, and at the same time it was completely doable.  A couple of kids did their cutting wrong and had to start over, but there was no rush.  I think our instructor, Lucy, even took the time to work with one personally.

Disadvantages to Visiting the Minnesota Center for Book Arts

  • It's not a place to go and let your kids run around. In The Loft Literary Center, there are classes being taught.  And the gift store isn't the safest place for unsupervised play.
  • While it is just off Washington Ave. in Minneapolis, there is only limited free parking on the south side of the building.  Otherwise, you need to find a metered spot on the road or park in a ramp.
  • Their projects are a little on the spendy side (but they are well worth the price).

And here is a picture of the completely project!

Minnesota Center for Book Arts

MCBA offers classes for families and preschoolers (starting at age 2) and older kids. They also offer summer camps. If you want to engage your child in a meaningful project, I highly suggest checking them out!  You won't be disappointed.

some images courtesy of MCBA, used with permission


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