Top Eight Questions about the Silo Art Project

There are a lot of questions floating around about the upcoming Silo Art Project in Mankato. We’re hoping to shed some light on the who, what and why of this exciting public art project.

Top Eight Questions about the Silo Art Project

1.      What is the design going to be?

We don’t know yet. Guido van Helten’s work focuses on commemorating people and their connection to place. Utilizing a documentary approach relying on photography to capture an image that seeks to represent the unique character of the people and their connection to Greater Mankato.

The design will transform the Ardent Mills industrial grain bins into an artistic statement by commemorating the diversity and culture of greater Mankato. The mural will be created collaboratively and inclusively with our local community.

2.      What silos are we talking about?

Ardent Mills, 200 N Riverfront Dr, Old Town Mankato. The Mankato Mill was established in 1876!

Ardent Mills  Photo Credit: Pat Christman, Free Press Mankato, 2018

Ardent Mills

Photo Credit: Pat Christman, Free Press Mankato, 2018

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow the project at to hear when the painting gets underway and come out to see this installation in action.

3.      When will this start?

This project has already begun! The artist has visited the area once with plans to engage further in future months. The projected start date for the mural painting is late summer.

4.      How big will the mural be and will it cover all of the silos?

The eight silos are all available for the artist to use as a canvas. The design will dictate how much of each silo is covered. Do a Google search of van Helten’s work and you’ll see what we mean.

5.      Will any “famous” people from Mankato be on the silos?

The artist chooses people based on how they may best represent the concepts or the identities of the everyday and tends to eschew well-known personalities for a simple reason that they do not represent the general population of a place.

6.      Who will approve the final design?

There will be a selection committee made up of representatives from Twin Rivers Council for the Arts, City Center Partnership, Ardent Mills, Mankato Area Foundation, City of Mankato and City of North Mankato.

7.      Why was this Australian selected to be the artist?

Guido van Helten  Photo Credit: Dharavi_India_AkshatNauriyal©_2017

Guido van Helten

Photo Credit: Dharavi_India_AkshatNauriyal©_2017

After exploring several options for artwork on the Ardent Mills silos (i.e. banners, projection, etc.), the CityArt Committee was introduced to the work of Guido van Helten. We were impressed with the quality of his work, level of expertise, attention to detail and originality. References from other communities showed his capability, responsibility and reliability. In fact, there was much enthusiasm expressed about the impact his artwork has had on their communities. He was the right artist with a compelling artistic portfolio for the Committee to take to Ardent Mills – the final voice in granting permission - to do the project. His worldwide commissions are a testament to his professionalism, skill and international recognition.

8.      Why undertake this project?

As a CityArt project – our mission is to bring public art programming to the City Center. We saw the Ardent Mills silos as the perfect infrastructure to create a unique, community-focused, contemporary urban artwork. The project meets many of our overarching goals:

  1. To improve the gateways into Mankato and North Mankato;

  2. Beautify our community through public art;

  3. Increase tourism;

  4. Increase economic impact and redevelopment efforts in Old Town;

  5. Help local businesses through increased traffic;

  6. Increase civic pride among our residents;

  7. Plus, it’s just awesome. 

Ok - actually 9 questions…

9. What will the money raised be used for?

The total budget for the Silo Art Project is $250,000. Funds raised will go towards paying the artist for design, installation and materials/equipment. Funds are also being set aside for insurance, maintenance and a comprehensive communication plan to ensure that this public art project becomes a must-see destination in Minnesota.