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Fargo's Plains Art Museum to open K-5 art education center

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Plain Art Museum
The Plain Art Museum in downtown Fargo, N.D. The museum's director announced Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011 a new "Center for Creativity" that will educate K-5 children in the arts.
Photo courtesy the Plain Art Museum

The Plains Art Museum announced plans Thursday to open a "Center for Creativity" that will teach art to thousands of local elementary school students.

The $2.8 million center will open next fall near the museum in downtown Fargo.

Museum Director Colleen Sheehy said in the first year the center will serve 5,000 Fargo elementary students. Schools will pay a fee for the classes.

Ultimately, Sheehy said the new center will teach art education to the 12,000 K-5 students in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Programs offered at the center will replace some existing art education programs in the schools.

The center will significantly increase the number of people who use the museum, she said.

Plains Art Museum Director Colleen Sheehy
Plains Art Museum Director Colleen Sheehy announces Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011 a new Center for Creativity to be built in downtown Fargo.
MPR Photo/Dan Gunderson

"The kids will bring their parents to see the artwork," she said. "We'll have galleries in the center where their artwork will be on display. I think as a result more and more people in the community will have a real personal connection to the museum and it will help to demystify art."

Sheehy hopes to wrap up fundraising by the end of the month so construction can start in January.

The new center got a fundraising boost from a $500,000 donation from the Burgum family. Doug Burgum built a software company in Fargo that was purchased by Microsoft. The center will be named for his mother Katherine because as he sees it, there's a direct connection between his business success and the art appreciation his mother taught him.

"Part of art is also about observation and it's about curiosity," he said.

Burgum said his mother taught him "to be observant, to have that eye to look and see things the way other people may not see them. And then to always be curious. That's where innovation comes from."

The center will have studios for ceramics, painting, sculpture and digital art. The museum also plans to offer classes for adults.