Mill City: Bridging the Past, Present and Future


Graffiti on the inner walls of the area connecting the museum to other buildings

Past: The graffiti reflects the period in the 1990’s, when the industrial complex was largely abandoned to the homeless and wandering. It shows how the purpose of a building can change over time, and has layers of stories and personal experiences. It is a marker of transition from a booming economic prosperity of Minneapolis to an ignored economic area and deteriorated neighborhood. It is a multi-layered, and quite contradicting story. As Cosgrove said, the “landscape as a cultural text… offers the possibility of simultaneous and equally valid different readings” (p.123).


An upward view of the contrast between the old factory building and the modern addition

Present: As our tour guide mentioned, the Minnesota Historical Society has invested time and capital into preserving these historical sites. Not only have they preserved the way they are used, but also the aesthetic and physical purpose. I believe this is a productive way of bring the past and present together, as we are constantly reminded of the wealth of history in the location.


Automatic door activation control next to the entrance of Mill City Museum

Future: Often certain landscape is accessible to some and not others. The reason for exclusion may vary from gender, economic status to physical ability. The door activation control was something that I had not noticed back in New Zealand and Korea, both because I was less conscious of this issue and because there are more inaccessible infrastructure. Especially in Korea, public landscape can be very (physically able) male-dominated. Thus, to look to the future, public landscapes need to more actively represent excluded cultures.

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