Minneapolis Institute of Art investigates the paranormal in 'Supernatural America'

The Minneapolis Institute of Art supposedly is haunted already, but now it's bringing in more ghosts.

Contemporary art curator Bob Cozzolino has organized a touring show called "Supernatural America: The Paranormal in American Art," which Mia says is the first major museum exhibition to examine artists' relationship to the supernatural.

It's about the "idea that spirits are unsettled," and stick around to communicate, said Cozzolino.

"The show incorporates contemporary artists and their views and their voices in order to acknowledge contact between the spirit realm and the living and interplanetary beings in other dimensions. It's about fluidity in time, [and the] experience of the past that won't stay quiet, that needs to be reckoned with in some way."

"Supernatural America" will begin its spooky tour June 12 at the Toledo Museum of Art, then travel to the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Ky., before winding up its run in Minneapolis Feb. 19-May 15, 2022.

The show includes 150 works from the early 1800s to the present day by a wide range of American artists, from internationally recognized figures such as Betye Saar, Tony Oursler and John Jota Leaños to underrepresented artists. Some of those are 19th- and 20th-century "spirit artists," who say their art was made simply by allowing spirits to use them as mediums and guide them.

Sections on topics such as apparitions, channeling spirits and ritual, plural universes and UFOs dive in further to these mysterious worlds.

"The show is done with a point of view that respects artists and their point of view," said Cozzolino. "It's rooted in personal experience — of the artists with the spirits."

It wouldn't be a haunted America show without deep dives into the history of settler colonialism, creating a new way of channeling African American ancestors through spirit, and Indigenous artists channeling visions from healing spirits.

"White settlers are haunted by their genocidal past, present and future," said Leaños in a recent Zoom call. "We do have the evidence of its colonial continual hauntings through people of color here."

It's rumored that Mia's period rooms on the third floor are already haunted. Several instances recorded by the museum's audio tour suggest that this could be true.

Strange things have happened in the Tudor Room, which dates to around 1600 and evokes the style of Tudor and Elizabethan England.

In spring 2009, a member of the janitorial staff said he was cleaning a water fountain outside the Tudor Room when he heard a door open and footsteps inside. He figured it was a guard, but after a few minutes realized that no one had left the room. He soon found out that there weren't even any guards on the floor that night.

Some say the Connecticut Room, with contents from a mid-18th-century colonial house near New Haven, may also be haunted.

Visitors to this room have reported feeling small tugs on their coats or the feeling that someone grasped their hand. One time, a guard came into the room to find all the shades drawn around the bed. Another person said they saw a tall, shadowy figure in the doorway. After a ghost-hunting group spent the day searching the museum, they reported evidence suggesting that the ghost of a man is attached to the bed in this room.

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