Laird Norton Center for Art & Design

Creating Art & Community in Historic Downtown Winona

The combination of leading-edge academic programming with innovative spaces positions WSU's Laird Norton Center for Art and Design to be a premier Design program.

The public galleries and community idea incubator spaces will unify, showcase and advance the arts in Winona.

To date we've raised $2.3 million of our $3 million dollar goal.


Project Overview

Why Give?

  • Encourage enhanced academic programming to provide a world-class, leading-edge student experience
  • Support faculty innovation
  • Improve and increase art exhibition and cataloging
  • Strengthen community engagement and create a community arts district
  • Attract the brightest, most creative minds from around the globe

Goal: $3 Million

A total of $3 million is needed to complete renovations by summer 2019.

Student Impact

The Art Department’s major programs – Studio Art, Art Teaching, and Graphic Design, as well as an Art History minor – are closely integrated with one another and with the broader liberal arts curriculum of WSU.

The new I-Design major will enable students to become leaders in multiple design related industries and even their own communities by providing:

  • World class curriculum that exceeds industry standards
  • Interdisciplinary problem solving skills
  • New media and technology
  • Collaboration and global cultural experiences

The Design program will be fully located in the Laird Norton Center for Art and Design is a rapidly changing field driven by technology, yet shaped by intellect and imagination.

Two design studios, a computer lab, and a fabrication lab will provide the space for students to develop fluency with standard industry software and hardware, the stepping stones to professional execution of creative ideas in visual communication.

A woodshop and large art studio will provide additional opportunities for all Art students to graduate with a strong portfolio and the capacity for innovative thinking.

University Impact

“We think the Laird Norton Center for Art and Design will have a number of different impacts, positive impacts on the university.

We think it will encourage really talented students to want to be enrolled here. We know it will attract talented faculty and staff who will want to be a part of what we are doing.

We believe it will be supportive of an overall direction that the city of Winona is going and this whole part of Minnesota is going to make the community of Winona even more vibrant and beautiful place to live.

So, we think all those things kind of fit together to make this critical at this time for the University.” –President of WSU, Scott Olson

The Laird Norton Center for Art and Design will also offer Winona State:

  • Creative, innovative, and immersive learning spaces for students to learn, study, and grow, including a Fab Lab, Makerspace, and galleries
  • Climate-controlled visible collections storage, allowing students to utilize modern, museum-quality storage systems and perform scholarly research on the University’s permanent collection
  • Opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to collaborate with community members and businesses in the area
  • Increase in the skill set of Art and Design students through interdisciplinary programs and experiences, contributing to greater success post-graduation

Community Impact

State-of-the-art equipment, laboratories, a business incubator, and event spaces will be available to the Winona community.

Use of a fabrication laboratory (Fab Lab) and wood shop (Makerspace) will be offered via a membership plan.

These workrooms will feature high-precision equipment and design capabilities, along with programs that emphasize both safety and innovation.

The Business Incubator Space will provide a room for start-up companies to launch businesses.

With access to the Fab Lab and Makerspace, it will be serve as a model of professional practices for Design students to work in collaboration with one another and the Winona community.

Event spaces include a general education classroom that is easily adaptable to studio art instruction, printing, papermaking and general classroom use.

The breathtaking Revival Renaissance-style atrium, with original fixtures, a terrazzo floor, 7-foot marble walls, and skylight illumination, will be available to the community via reservations.

WSU also has a permanent collection of approximately 800 pieces that have been donated by prominent Winona community members and WSU alumni, faculty, staff and friends.

The Center will contain two University Galleries totaling 1,800 square feet to display a rotating curated exhibition of these works; these galleries will be open to the public free of charge.

Building Features

  • Collaborative, high-tech classrooms support innovation and new creative energy. Truly innovative features, like the Fab Lab, Makerspace, and Project Incubator give students a world-class education and prepare them for the ever-changing design industry.
  • Climate-controlled spaces and a museum-level storage system, allow for scholarly research and state-of-the art curation of the University's art collection -- housing nearly 800 objects in a permanent collection.
  • Multiple gallery spaces showcase WSU's unique and diverse art collection, art, design and multi-media exhibitions by faculty, students and area artists.
  • Seminar, lounge and makerspaces allow for publicly-accessible education, creation, and performances, helping invigorate community arts.

Naming Opportunities

There are naming opportunities for two gallery spaces, the lobby area, I-Design space, Fabrication Lab, Makerspace, classrooms and lecture halls.