WeDo™ (pronounced wee-doo) is the West Downtown Cultural District in Minneapolis. It’s a place to celebrate arts, culture and everything that makes our city unique.
When you visit WeDo, you’ll find an urban setting steeped in contrasts. Gilded theaters rub elbows with modern architecture. Sports fans and ballet enthusiasts share rooftop views and sidewalk patios. Dog walkers co-exist in a city of Internet cat devotees. Mini golf mixes with performance art, and music fans rock out at the basilica.
You’ll also find a quiet park and a small lake – and one of the largest public art gardens in the country – all in the middle of an energetic city.
With Hennepin Avenue at its center, the district spans 1.7 miles end-to-end – all of it walkable with a comfortable pair of shoes. Bikes, cars, buses and light rail also make it easy to get around in WeDo. Follow Hennepin Avenue, from the Walker Art Center to the river, and between First Avenue and Nicollet Mall.
WeDo is a place, but it takes teamwork to make it a destination. Hennepin Theatre Trust is leading efforts to realize the long-term vision for this unique arts and cultural district, in close partnership with the Walker Art Center, Artspace (developer of The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts) and the City of Minneapolis. Think of us as a collective of enthusiasts who are turning big dreams for downtown into a reality.
Whatever your tastes or inspiration, you’ll fit right in when you come to WeDo. Go ahead. Explore the district at wedompls.org.
A Destination in the Making
In 2011, Hennepin Theatre Trust, with support from the City of Minneapolis, secured an “Our Town” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to lead a community planning process that aimed to reimagine Hennepin Avenue as a year-round cultural destination.
Hennepin Avenue’s history is a colorful one with many identities. It began as an American Indian footpath, evolved into a vital transit corridor of streetcars, was once celebrated as an entertainment destination, and later became a grittier, less inviting version of itself. Today, it is undergoing another rebirth.
Block-to-block, the area can be an uneven experience with one block filled with activity and bright theater lights, and the next dotted with vacant storefronts and loitering. That unevenness has been a persistent problem – and represents the district’s greatest opportunity.
There are four connected and overlapping zones within the district, described as the following:
Hennepin-Lyndale Gateway: Includes Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church, Walker Art Center, The Basilica of St. Mary and Dunwoody College of Technology. This zone is characterized by its spiritual and educational institutions; an arts center and sculpture garden campus; and public green space that includes Loring Park.
Hennepin-Harmon District: Encompasses the Basilica of St. Mary to 10th Street, and is characterized as an urban residential area with educational institutions, including Minneapolis Community & Technical College, and local retail like the Lunds & Byerlys grocery store.
Hennepin Theatre District: Spans 10th Street down to 5th Street and connecting streets. This is known as an active entertainment area that includes the historic Orpheum, State and Pantages theaters, The Cowles Center for Dance & The Performing Arts, Target Center and Target Field sports venues, Mayo Clinic Square, popular music venues and an array of restaurants and bars.
Riverfront Gateway: Runs from 5th Street to Nicollet Island, recognized by the Cesar Pelli-designed Central Library, residential living, retail that includes a Whole Foods, civic institutions and green spaces focused on recreation.
By grouping the four zones or neighborhoods into a single, connected district while honoring each zone’s distinct character, there is opportunity to focus and align efforts that benefit everyone in WeDo.
The Trust, Walker, Artspace and the City are working to create collaborative practices that will inform future development and programming of the area. This work also is intended to complement the Downtown Council’s 2025 Plan to increase the residential population of downtown to 70,000 people.