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Big birthday: Minneapolis Institute of Arts launches celebration of its first century

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As it launches a yearlong celebration of its 100th year, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts announced Thursday that it has received a long-term loan from the estate of a Minneapolis native who was a leading international business executive and passionate art collector.

The Pioneer Press reports that an unexpected exhibition that opened on New Year's Day will feature art collected by the late Myron Kunin, the founder of the Regis Cooperation. Kunin served on the MIA board for more than 35 years and was chair of the board from 1991-98. He died at 85 in October of 2013.

WCCO noted that the exhibit, called “American Modernism: Selections from the Kunin Collection of American Art,” features more than 80 works of the 550 on loan from the Kunin estate. The collection showcases American modernists and realists. It includes work by artists who have rarely been seen by the public, including paintings by noted artists that include Reginald Marsh, Marsden Harley, Stuart Davis, Walt Kuhn and Paul Cadmus.

The Star Tribune talked to Kunin's widow Anita. She said that the family would like the collection to remain at the Minneapolis museum permanently but cannot make any commitments until the estate is settled.

“The kids feel the same as I do, that American art was somehow the symbolic essence of what Myron collected and we’d really like to keep that collection together," Anita Kunin, 83, told the Star Tribune. “If we can manage all of his commitments and ventures without selling any of the American art, we’d like to do that, but we do have to meet all his obligations.”

The Star Tribune story said that the paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and photos on loan from the Kunin family is "likely worth more than $300 million," making it "...one of the most important hoards of American modernist art in private hands."

In a statement, MIA director and president Kaywin Feldman said she's grateful the Kunin family wanted to share his collection with the public.

"I can think of no better way to launch our 100th birthday celebrations than with a long-term loan that enhances and deepens our galleries," Feldman said. "That the story of American art can be told so thoroughly and so engagingly through this microcosm of the much larger collection is a credit to Myron Kunin's keen eye and his irrepressible love of the chase after great art.

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