Discovering, Minnesota

Impressive Maritime Art Museum in Winona, MN

You don’t have to travel to a big city to see art masterpieces from the likes of Degas, O’Keeffe, Renoir, Picasso, just to name a few. The impressive Maritime Art Museum in Winona, MN pleasantly offers the quality of an art museum you would expect to find in a much larger city. At the Maritime Art Museum aptly tucked into the Bluffs of the Mississippi River, visitors will be treated to one of the most unique art collections of the Midwest.

We have visited Winona, MN several times throughout the years but had never stopped at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum (MMAM) so we were blown away when we finally made time to visit. 

The MMAM features art that is inspired by water, hence the name, Minnesota Marine Art Museum. 

Never ever did we expect to be face-to-face with artwork from American and European artists such as Cassatt, Gauguin, Matisse, Monet, O’Keeffe, Picasso, Renoir, or Van Gogh, all with a subject of water.  That’s exactly what we were able to do for the small entrance fee of $9 per adult.  There are so many gorgeous works of art here, including Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze

In addition to this amazing collection of fine art, the MMAM also rotates art exhibits throughout each year. This is a small but beautiful space, so it’s a very manageable visit. You have the experience of fine art without feeling like you have to commit to spending all day at a huge museum because you paid a hefty entrance fee. 

The Great River Road

Winona is one of the beautiful cities in Minnesota tucked along the Great River Road of the Mississippi River. The Maritime Art Museum is one of the countless experiences that you can enjoy on this scenic national byway.

What’s the deal?

If you’re inquisitive like we are, you’re wondering….Who, What, How?? This fine art collection belongs to Winona native and businessman, Bob Kierlen, who founded a Minnesota company called Fastenal. It began as a large personal art collection as well as pieces by regional artists Leo & Marilyn Smith who focus on “Life on the Mississippi”. As one of the museum guards told us, this art collection is one that Kierlen felt should be shared for more people to enjoy.  

Enjoy, we did. We were truly surprised at how much we enjoyed this visit. When we travel, art museums sound like a nice thing to experience, in theory, but in all honesty, are not typically “our thing”. It feels like an all-day commitment that can sometimes be on the spendy side.

The MMAM was an absolutely pleasant surprise and has changed our views on visiting art museums when we travel.

Check out these amazing views. It was especially fitting to watch a barge pass by on the Mississippi River during our visit.

The Seventh Gallery

The exterior building and the grounds are also easy on the eyes. The museum sits on six acres of land just off the Mississippi River. There are over 60,000 plants, shrubs, grasses, and trees on the property with some being native to the area. This garden sets the tone as you enter the parking lot. It’s a truly beautiful visit, inside and out, and we highly recommend adding this to your list. It’s even reason enough to visit the beautiful city of Winona. It’s a beautiful part of the state. We highly recommend a fall visit to take in the fall colors. 

Pro Tip: We recommend taking Hwy 61 to get to Winona if coming from the North or South. The scenic views of the Mississippi River are worthwhile and will only enhance your visit to this Impressive Maritime Art Museum in Winona, MN

More About MMAM

Though this is a personal collection, the MMAM operates as a 501C and gets funding through donations, membership, grants, gift shop sales, and rentals for events.

The building is handicap accessible.

Currently, museum tours have been revised to self-guided audio tours that cost $1 or are free for members.

They also have a gift shop as you enter the museum. It can be shopped online as well!

MMAM hosts “Seasonal Saturdays” where admission is just $1 and they host live music and different activities for all ages.

MMAM hosts around 20,000 visitors traveling from all over Minnesota, the Midwest and beyond.

The MMAM is open Tuesday- Sunday

Road Tripping to the Minnesota Marine Art Museum

Bloomington, MN to Winona: 115 miles | 2 Hours

Mankato, MN to Winona:  132 miles | 2 hours, 15 minutes

Rochester, MN to Winona: 58 miles | 1 hour

Eau Claire, WI to Winona: 70 miles | 1.5 hours

Dubuque, IA to Winona: 152 miles | 3 hours (Pro Tip- take the Great River Road!)

Pin for your Road trip to Winona, MN and the Minnesota Marine Art Museum

We'd love to hear from you!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.