In 1901 the city of Mankato was awarded a grant of $40,000 from Andrew Carnegie to build a public library. From 1903 – 1977 the Carnegie Library served Mankato and the surrounding area as its free public library. The building is also referenced in the Maud Hart Lovelace book “Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown”. In 1979 the Mankato Area Arts Council purchased the building from the city of Mankato. For several years the building was home to a music education organization, Cherry Creek Theater and served as office space for several other non – profit arts organizations.
The Carnegie Art Center – as it is referred to today – is committed to nurturing the visual arts in the Southern Minnesota area through an exhibition program – operating two galleries – a gift shop offering works for sale by regional artists and the rental of private studio spaces.
The building has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980 and was added to the Mankato’s Heritage Preservation Landmarks in 2018. The Carnegie also received in 2018 an Honor award from the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota.