Our History & Mission


MacRostie Art Center (MAC) was formed in 1960 as the Itasca Art Association (IAA), a loosely organized painters’ club, with a primary interest in watercolor. Lacking a permanent home for three decades, IAA focused on informal, mutual support and peer-review development while convening in kitchens, spare bedrooms, studios, and abandoned storefronts with an occasional workshop conducted by a well-known regional painter. The organization was officially incorporated as a nonprofit in 1970 and began to expand its mission and programming.

In 1991, Ruth MacRostie made a gift of the building at the corner of 1st Avenue NW and 4th Street.  With the addition of crucial start-up funding from the Blandin Foundation, IAA decided to change its name to MacRostie Art Center, both to commemorate Ms. MacRostie’s generosity and to reflect institutional maturity. The MAC’s declared goal to become an art center had important implications for programming and outreach.


MacRostie Art Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to community growth through the arts in northern Minnesota. The MAC exists to support and advance the work of professional artists in our region and build a community that recognizes, appreciates and celebrates art. We believe that art is central to the quality of life in northern Minnesota – as it is everywhere – and that the artists who create, sell, and exhibit art play a vital role in society. Art is not a luxury, but an important engine for economic growth and community development.

With these values at our core, MacRostie Art Center presents exhibitions, workshops, classes, festivals, lectures, and other activities to engage the community in the arts. We support artists by providing a well-established venue for exhibition and sale of work. We work to keep the arts visible as a defining part of the community.

MacRostie Art Center is an active and involved member of the community that has been our home for over fifty years. We work collaboratively with social groups and agencies, educators, and other arts organizations on projects that reflect our shared objectives. It is the goal of the MAC that our services will reach all segments of the community, our efforts will enhance the status of northern Minnesota as an arts destination, and the artists who live and work here will be supported and valued.

THANK YOU to the many artists, members, and donors who make our work possible!