THE DAKOTA, THAT FAMOUS APARTMENT BUILDING ON CENTRAL PARK WEST IN NEW YORK CITY, WAS NAMED THE DAKOTA BECAUSE, WHEN IT WAS BUILT, IT SEEMED AS FAR NORTH AND WEST OF CIVILIZATION AS DAKOTA ITSELF. IN THE SAME SPIRIT, WE TOOK IT UPON OURSELVES TO BUILD NORTH DAKOTA’S FIRST ART MUSEUM IN GRAND FORKS.
I was never properly educated in the ways of the art world, so at the time I began the museum, I did not know that high art was defined by painting and sculpture. I had spent a lot of time looking at Asian art. Also, the Northern Sioux culture in which I grew up was rooted in transportable, soft materials: dyed porcupine quills, trade beads, hides, and accounting ledgers. Our art was made form whatever material lay at hand. Dance costumes, for example, were embellished with tin-can bangles and plastic substitutes for bones. Indeed, from the beginning I exhibited all materials in every medium, but I was always looking for art that my intelligent audiences could relate to, even if they did not know much about art.
—Laurel Reuter, Mortality Immortality? The Legacy of 20th Century Art, The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, 1999, lecture and essay.