Experience the library’s art and architecture
Throughout the library are many examples of art and architecture of the past and present, reflecting our community’s culture and its rich history.
The purpose of the Stillwater Public Library Gallery is to provide education and arts enrichment through exhibits and displays, to increase community involvement in the library, and to provide an enjoyable environment for the library’s users.
In addition to the rotating exhibits in the gallery, the library has a large collection of permanent works by local and world-renowned artists.
Richard Huelsmann Collection
Many of the pieces in the library’s permanent fine art collection were a bequest from the late Richard Huelsmann, a former member of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Centennial Capital Campaign Committee. Dick, a lifelong resident of Stillwater, dedicated his life to serving the community. Under his leadership, the expansion and renovation of the historic library resulted in the beautiful facility that we have today.
Kinji Akagawa Sculptures
When stepping outside onto the Johnson Terrace, you can walk around a sculpture that was commissioned by the Huelsmann Foundation, in memory of Richard Huelsmann. After learning of Dick’s extensive involvement in the library’s 2006 building project, the local sculptor and Afton resident Kinji Akagawa, came up with the idea of a table and ‘chairs’ using Minnesota granite for the table and local boulders for the ‘chairs’.
Josephine “Jo” Lutz Rollins Collection
The library’s upper level reading rooms feature paintings of historic Stillwater homes by Jo Lutz Rollins. Jo Lutz Rollins was the first woman professor in the Art Department of the University of Minnesota, the founder of Minnesota’s first long-running summer art colony, and a founder of the first women’s cooperative art gallery in Minneapolis. View the catalogue of Jo Lutz Rollins paintings at the library, with details about the historic homes.
Charles Beck Collection
The library welcomes you to the lower level with a display of contemporary prints, donated as a family tribute. The featured artist is printmaker Charles Beck who was born and raised in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. The predominant theme of his work is the landscape close to his hometown, which includes the woods, fields and farmlands of the region. “Just about anything I’ve done of significance is somehow related to the nature and land around here,” he stated.
Betsy Bowen Collection
In the children’s area, you will find a series of framed animal hand-cut woodblock prints by renowned author and printmaker Betsy Bowen. Much of Bowen’s work focuses on recognizable scenes from the Northwoods, with many appearing as illustrations in books for children and adults. Bowen lives on the family homestead near Grand Marais, MN. Her printmaking studio and gallery is in the town of Grand Marais, housed in a historic church.
The construction of the Beaux Arts building, designed by Patton and Miller, began in 1902. The heart of the original building, the elegant rotunda and its two beautiful entrances, can be found on the upper level. Notice the faux marble pillars, Greek-key mosaic, and egg and dart frieze.
Other details of the past have been carried into the present use of the library. The building’s original exterior stained glass windows have been repositioned to the interior of the building on the lower level. Continuity of this design was carried throughout the library with newly installed glass windows, which were made by the original manufacturer, Kokomo Opalescent Glass, and are very similar in design.
Shelving units installed in 1903 remain in use on the upper level. Look for the ornate iron design of these end pieces. The shelf ends actually pre-date the Carnegie library and were used in a rented facility for the library before this building.