In 1964 the Dayton’s Department store in downtown Minneapolis opened an art gallery on its 12th floor, called Dayton’s Gallery 12. The iconic Dayton’s store dated back to 1902, when it was established by George Draper Dayton on the corner of Nicollet Ave and 7th Street. While many department stores around the country started opening galleries, these usually carried interior decorating merchandise, not high quality art. No one expected anything different from Dayton’s Gallery 12, yet they proved to become one of the premier galleries of the Midwest.
In the 1960’s and 70’s Dayton’s Gallery 12 held major exhibitions of contemporary art in a variety of media, including drawings, prints, paintings, sculptures, and collage. Their shows featured the leading artists of the day, such as Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg. In addition to their rotating exhibitions, they carried an inventory of over 1,000 prints by these and other artists. Although they started out catering to a local market (many of whom were unexperienced collectors), the Gallery ended up with a range of national and international clientele.
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