MPR interview


Want to step into the world of Jane Austen?

Short of hopping a flight to England, the Minneapolis Institute of Art is your best option. The museum has tweaked two of its period rooms — the Queen Anne Room and the Georgian Drawing room — to reflect the spirit of Austen and her novels.

Avid Austen fan and scholar Gina Heath King, who is researching the author at the University of Minnesota, offered her expertise on the project. She helped turn the drawing room into a scene straight out of “Emma,” imagining how the protagonist and her father would have lived. The room now offers a glimpse into the everyday lives of the characters, with a shawl spread over a chair and a nearly finished watercolor in progress.

Across the hall, the Queen Anne room has been turned into the Jane Austen Reading Room, reminiscent of the library at Chawton House, where Austen’s brother lived. Copies of Austen’s novels are on hand, as well as copies of the books that inspired her.

There are also “modern 21st century books, spin-off novels of Jane’s work,” King told MPR News host Kerri Miller. “A little something for everyone.”

To hear the full tour of the Jane Austen Reading Room, use the audio player above.