A daring, innovative Minneapolis art space is soon to rejuvenate its artistic game.
Starting late September, The Soap Factory will update its 130-year-old industrial building with a $6.2 million dollar building improvement project. The renovation of the 52,000-square-foot space, once home to the National Purity Soap Factory, includes a top-to-bottom upgrade—the new Soap Factory will offer an expanded local, national, and international artist residency program and exhibition space, as well as additional working studios for artists. Furthermore, the first floor of the riverfront warehouse will house a new restaurant.
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“We are thrilled about the opportunities this expansion brings,” said Bill Mague, executive director for The Soap Factory, in the press release. “The renovation will enable us to provide critical new capacity in our local art community, offering both affordable working space for local artists and multiple residency programs. The ethos that is so intrinsic to ‘The Soap’ will be alive and well in the renovated space as improvements are meant to highlight and leverage the unique, existing historic fabric for the long-term.”
The Soap Factory was founded in 1989 by a small group of artists as one of the first venues in the Twin Cities devoted to emerging visual art, according to the website. Originally called No Name Gallery, then No Name Exhibitions, the nonprofit organization has grown to exhibit the works of over 100 artists and draw 20,000 visitors every year. In the past decade, The Soap Factory has become known for its annual halloween experience, The Haunted Basement, which takes the haunted house to new, visceral levels. With the renovations at The Soap Factory, it was announced that The Haunted Basement will spin off into an independent project and be brought to different locations.
The Soap Factory plans to reopen in April 2018. While the building is undergoing renovations, they are partnering with artists to present “Rethinking Public Spaces,” a series of eleven artist projects that enliven underutilized spaces throughout Minnesota, rethink public space, and consider what it means to “place-make” through a contemporary, celebratory, and critical lens, according to The Soap Factory’s website. “Rethinking Public Spaces” will take place around the exterior of The Soap Factory, across the Minneapolis–St. Paul Metro, and throughout the state, in towns including Rochester, Brainerd, and Cambridge.