It used to be better, but for the past few years, this place has gone downhill considerably.
1. They painted their galleries gray, which casts a death-like pall on everything. Some areas near the entrance have received a much-needed and attractive paint spruce-up, with a children's mural on the south side wall and decorative paint details on the other.
2. Exhibits sometimes do not consist of art, but of mass produced kitsch. One exhibit featured a canoe, a bunch of belt buckles and some duck decoys. Another consisted of old clothes. I might expect kitschy collections to be displayed at the 4H building at the fair or at a hobby show, but not at an art center.
3. Exhibits, which used to change monthly, are now up for two or three months. Exhibit rooms sometimes stand empty. I see the same familiar names on paintings whenever they do hang a new show. What happened to the person who used to book a dozen new and original shows each year? What happened to dozens of artists from all over MN and Iowa who used to want to display their art there? What happened to the Art in the Park festival that they used to have each summer? Is this art center on life support?
4. The place is often not open during posted hours. So if a person were to drive from another town to visit this art center, he or she might be disappointed to find doors locked or galleries either empty or filled with stuff, rather than art.
5. Some merchandise in the gift shop looks shop worn, as if it's been there for years.
6. Whoever decorates the windows in front and in the hallway must bring old stuff from home or from dumpster dives because it looks very tacky and tired.
7. The people who work there do not seem friendly or welcoming to me. On the contrary, they seem to be doing their own thing in the office, holding court behind a closed door, or they are not visible to a visitor.
8. As a previous reviewer said, their hallway needs some art. I think there was some photography on the south wall, but nothing opposite. There is a row of nails on the north side, but if they can't fill their galleries, how can they fill their hallways?
9. The most interesting room at the center is the first little gallery you come to, on the south side of the hall. It is decorated colorfully and always filled with art, but that appears to be some kind of private gallery that's not affiliated with the Art Center or always open to the general public.
10. The last financial report on this site shows a yearly income of 58K. It's hard to see where this non-profit is putting their money and energy. This place, which once had vitality, looks like everyone has run out of steam.
Review from Guidestar
The Albert Lea Art Center is a wonderful experience every time I visit there! There are several different kinds of mediums every month I go. The free open houses are planned well, and always enjoyable! The gift shop has man different kinds of art on consignment, hard to find art supplies, jewelry, and books written by local authors! It's a one-stop shopping experience! I fully reccomend making an extra effort to visit this wonderful Art Center! It will be well worth your trip!