At the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, of course there’s always so much going on around visual arts.

But the museum also offers frequent tours of a literary bent: Inspired by Books, tours that combine the museum’s extensive visual arts collection with themed explorations of books.

The tours are led by museum docents, and a new book is chosen each month. In June, Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel “Rebecca” was the topic. Rereading a book I hadn’t read in years (but had always loved) was fun, but taking the tour was even better.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

The docent who led my group knew the book very well and had selected well-chosen and thought-provoking pieces of art to illustrate it. Along the way, she talked not only about the novel, but about different techniques used in creating the artworks, the history of some of them, and the world of Gothic literature overall, of which “Rebecca” is a member.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

Whether it was a painting of people escaping a home on fire at night (spoiler alert — there’s a major plot twist involving a home burning in “Rebecca”), or of a woman who would have been highly fashionable back in the day, just like Rebecca, the artworks were all relevant and fascinating.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

The docents can choose the artwork they want to highlight, so you could go more than once and possibly see different artworks, or hear a different view on the background of the novel or art. The tours are popular and offered frequently: every Tuesday morning at 11:30 a.m., every Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m., and the third Sunday of the month at 3 p.m. There is no fee to join a tour, nor do you need a reservation.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

If you’ve read “Rebecca,” you might remember the fearful Mrs. Danvers, and understand why this painting was an excellent choice for the tour.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

Even a skeleton plays a role in the book.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

This wonderful, if atypical, painting by Winslow Homer of a brooding, sinister cliff over water at night is perfect for the book.

The book schedule for the rest of 2015 is here. Note: July’s selection is another well-loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Given that the highly-anticipated second book from Harper Lee comes out soon, the July tours could be very popular, so allow plenty of time for parking and getting into the museum.

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out WCCO 4 News at 10 on Sundays, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.

Click here to read previous Wander Minnesota posts.

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