The Museum develops exhibitions and programs that engage global concerns and ideas as relevant to people living on the Northern Plains as to people from around the world.


In Developing Exhibitions and Programs the Museum shall:

• Bring universally significant art, artists, performers, humanists, and cultural events to rural America. Quality is the number one criteria. It will be the responsibility of the Museum staff to make judgments against a national standard of excellence. Regional artists will not be neglected but judged against the same standards, and then placed within the larger national context.

• Primarily exhibit contemporary art against a backdrop of historical, ethnic, and folk art. The historical, ethnic, and folk exhibitions will be drawn whenever possible from regional sources, interests, and art forms, thus creating a context for contemporary art that is familiar to local audiences.

• Commission original work by artists whenever possible.

• Respond to our indigenous Native American audiences by consistently exhibiting the best of Native American arts and artists, both historical and contemporary.

• Record the artistic history of our region through exhibitions, publications, and acquisitions.

• Grapple with changing life in rural America. Seek out artists who transform the materials of the Plains and Prairies into visual language which illuminates the past, the present, and the future.

• Introduce the arts to outlying audiences through innovative educational practices.

• Design installations so as to give the public as much background information as possible about the art and artists. It must be remembered that the North Dakota audience is intelligent but for the most part not educated in the visual arts.

• Ground its exhibitions and programs in solid research—recognizing the institution's roots as the University of North Dakota museum. Research must result not only in exhibitions but also in documentation.

• Meet the highest standards of scholarship in all publications. These publications must meet national standards of excellence in design and production.

• Provide a place of refuge and ceremony.   

                              —Museum’s Mission Statement, 1987