Hibbing unveils new hometown tribute to Bob Dylan

A new public art tribute for Bob Dylan.
A new public art tribute is on display, located outside of Hibbing High School, where Bob Dylan graduated in 1959.
Courtesy of Katie Fredeen

A volunteer group in Hibbing, Minn., is unveiling a new public art tribute to Bob Dylan Saturday to recognize the Iron Range town’s most famous resident and to inspire a new generation of young artists.

The new display is located outside Hibbing High School, where Dylan graduated in 1959, along the path where decades ago he walked to school.

On one side of the display, a brick wall features the announcement of the Nobel Prize in Literature that Dylan was awarded in 2016.

The opposite side of the wall features a series of stainless steel panels that contain lyrics from more than 50 of Dylan’s songs.

A new public art tribute is on display
A new public art tribute with lyrics from Bob Dylan’s songs.
Dan Kraker | MPR News

In front of the display, a bronze chair faces the school so that anyone who sits in it will “have their backs to the lyrics, a physical representation of the songwriting process,” said Katie Fredeen, president of the Hibbing Dylan Project, the volunteer group that spent five years and raised about $100,000 to design and build the tribute.

For decades, Hibbing and nearby Duluth, Minn., where Dylan was born, have struggled with how to best pay tribute to the famous singer-songwriter, who left Minnesota in his late teens to launch his career in New York.

There’s a collection of memorabilia housed in the basement of the Hibbing Public Library. The street where Dylan lived has been renamed Bob Dylan Drive.

But other than that, there’s not much mention of Dylan in Hibbing, especially after the Dylan-themed restaurant Zimmy’s closed a few years ago, and an annual festival to celebrate Dylan in Hibbing fizzled out.

So, when Dylan won the Nobel in 2016, retired social studies teacher Craig Hattam organized a group of local residents to create a public space to honor the songwriter — one that tourists could visit when the library was closed.

"More importantly we really wanted to create a space at the high school,” said Fredeen. “Because we want students that are here in this area to know that just because they're from Hibbing, Minn., shouldn't limit their dreams of where they want to go and what they want to do."

Dylan, who turned 80 this year, has also been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Pulitzer Prize.

Organizers hope teachers use the display as an education space, and that it serves as a point of inspiration for the entire community.

"I think it's a very cool opportunity to show any aspiring singer-songwriter or artist that there's a place for you here,” Fredeen said.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.