In 2015 3M partnered with the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) to recognize creative thinking, imagination and innovation in the field of technology with the 3M Art and Technology Award, which offers winners a $25,000 prize and additional $25,000 in development support, connections to industry expertise and resources. Winners have the opportunity to work with MIA staff and companies involved in the judging to implement their ideas and engage museum audiences with concepts that improve their arts experience.
Entrees are judged based on their level of engagement with the user experience, meaningful connection to the community, accessibility for many audiences (especially the historically under-served), opportunities to expand beyond museum walls and feasibility.
89 contestants entered the 2016 competition from all across the United States. The winners, Molly Reichert and Ben Arcand from the Twin Cities, won the competition with an invention under the title of “Divining Rods” – a technology-based reimagining of the ancient tools used to find tangible resources of historical value, such as precious gems and fresh water.
Divining Rods is geared towards guiding visitors to discovering new artworks in the Minneapolis Institute of Art based on their responses to other artworks, functioning almost like a miniature curator.
The runner up, Katherine Stalker, created the Art Conversation Starters app, which connects museum visitors with art work while they get to know one another.
3M strives to promote creative expression and artistic cultural diversity by supporting arts organizations that enrich society through educational and community outreach.
With 3M’s support, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts presented an unprecedented exhibit that displayed 60 exceptional pieces from the Louvre’s collection in Paris, including works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Vermeer. The MIA’s educational outreach provided teacher workshops, online resources, free guided tours for 7,000 K–12 students, and Parent Ambassador Training Program, reaching 6,300 additional students.
3M has been a strong supporter of other museums as well, in 2010 donating $1.1 million in cash, products, and grants to institutions such as the Smithsonian Institution, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Children’s Museum of the Upstate in Greenville, SC, and the Museum of African Art.
Outside of the museum sector, a 3M Foundation capital grant helped create the City of Columbia's Center for the Arts in Missouri, an artistic hub of local and national performing arts groups, visual artists, and a new generation of audiences. The primary home of the Missouri Symphony, the new center includes the Youth Orchestra, Children's Choir, and the Columbia Art League, offering group classes in all aspects of visual arts for young and old alike.
3M also supported History Theatre in St. Paul, MN, one of the few organizations in the country that develops and produces original plays on its main stage. The education program helps students connect the history they learn about in the classroom to the plays they see at History Theatre that bring history to life. The theater provides study guides, lesson plans, and group activities for students, encouraging them to explore and understand history.
Photo: Prototypes of Molly Reichert and Ben Arcand’s award winning concept, “Divining Rods” for the 2016 3M Art and Technology Award.