The entrance to a Minneapolis museum has been covered with 2,400 life jackets that refugees once wore
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The Minneapolis Institute of Art's neoclassical columns, flanked by two stone guardian lions, are one of the first things visitors to the museum will notice. And now, those columns stand out even more, after being covered by thousands of multicolored lifejackets.
It's not vandalism. It's art -- an installation called "Safe Passage" by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Those life jackets were once discarded, worn by refugees making the journey from Turkey to Greece. They were originally donated to Ai by authorities of Lesbos, Greece.
And now, its showcasing at the Minneapolis Institute of Art marks its US debut.
Minnesota has the highest number of refugees per capita of any state in the US, according to the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota. That's one of the reasons the museum said it wanted to bring the work to Minneapolis.
Part of an exhibition exploring migration, immigration and forced displacement
"Safe Passage" is meant to highlight the perilous journey migrants made into Europe.
First debuting in 2016 in Berlin, the installation has been in numerous European cities. In Minnesota, the work is being shown as part of a larger exhibit called "When Home Won't Let You Stay: Art and Migration," a traveling exhibit that comes to the institute from Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art.
The exhibition, which opens Sunday in Minneapolis, aims to highlight artistic responses to migration, immigration and forced displacement.
"Safe Passage," though, is not part of the traveling exhibit. The Minneapolis Institute of Art brought the installation in on its own, along with works from two other artist groups. To see it in the US, visitors will have to book a trip to the Twin Cities.
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