University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
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Goldstein Museum of Design
College of Design

History of The Goldstein Museum of Design

Harriet & Vetta - The Goldstein Sisters

The Goldstein Museum of Design began with the work of two remarkable educators and art collectors, the sisters Harriet and Vetta Goldstein. Born in Michigan to recent immigrants from Poland, the Goldsteins assumed teaching positions at the University of Minnesota in 1910 and 1914 respectively. Their design philosophy, elucidated in their 1925 book Art in Everyday Life, was rooted in the Arts and Crafts Movement and stressed the inter-relationships between aesthetics and lifestyle: "As we surround ourselves with beauty, art actually becomes a part of our life and personality."

Believing in the centrality of the art object to the teaching of design principles, the sisters began to assemble the core of what is now the museum's collection. Prescient connoisseurs, Harriet and Vetta Goldstein acquired premier examples of early Modernism in design, including ceramics by the Handicraft Guild of Minneapolis, Tiffany metalwork, and Rookwood pottery. An early interest in Native American art led to the acquisition of Pueblo pottery and Navajo rugs and blankets.  Later, global travel provided further opportunities to build their collections.

The Goldsteins retired in 1949, but their philosophy that art objects are integral to the learning experience was shared and continued by colleagues and College administration. The dynamic leadership of Department Head, Gertrude Esteros and College Dean, Keith McFarland, along with alumni volunteers, helped foster the creation of the Goldstein Gallery in 1976 in the newly renovated McNeal Hall. Since that date, the Goldstein, now the Goldstein Museum of Design, has focused its mission on supporting teaching and research on campus; additionally, as part of a land grant institution the museum fulfills a vital public outreach function through exhibitions, publications, off-site programs and community partnerships.

In 1978, Margot Siegel founded the Friends of the Goldstein Museum of Design, which contributes financial support, encourages volunteerism, and raises the museum's public visibility. Since its inception, the Friends have helped shape the collections, and organized forums for their public display and interpretation.

Left to Right: Dean Keith McFarland, Margot Siegel, and Gertrude Esteros