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Minneapolis: The Haute New Metropolis

With nearly $500 million spent on theater, park, and museum renovations, Minneapolis is officially a city poised to become one of the hottest artistic spots around. The stunning new cube-shaped addition to the Walker Arts Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave. (tel. 612-375-7600; www.walkerart.org), was designed by Herzog & De Mueron, the team who created the Tate Modern in London. The addition allows more space for the center's permanent collections, as well as houses a new theater and a hot new celebrity chef spot 20.21 (tel. 612/253-3410), the latest in Wolfgang Puck's dynasty of eateries. Part of the Walker but on the property adjacent to the arts center is the phenomenal 11-acre Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which holds over 40 exhibits of national and internationally renowned artists, including the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry created by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.

The shores of the Mississippi River, once plunked with industrial buildings and strewn with garbage, are not only the scene of exciting urban renewal in general, but also the new home of the 285,000-square-foot, Jean Nouvel-designed Guthrie Theater (named for Sir Tyrone, not Woody), 818 S. 2nd St. (tel. 612/377-2224; www.guthrietheater.org). The works of Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Neil Simon, Arthur Miller, and other great playwrights past and present are performed on one their three new stages. Also the Minneapolis Institute for the Arts, 2400 3rd Ave. S. (tel. 888/MIA-ARTS; www.artsmia.org), just opened its new Target Wing, which houses 34 new galleries of ancient and new painting, drawing, photography, and sculpture from all over the world. For modernists, the jutting, shiny stainless-steel and glass towers and turrets of the Weisman Art Museum, 333 E. River Rd. (tel. 612/625-9494; www.weisman.umn.edu), hold the work of such 20th-century greats as Roy Lichtenstein, Charles Biederman, and Georgia O'Keeffe.

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