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‘Prince: Before the Rain’ photo exhibit coming to Minnesota History Center

Prince captured by personal photographer Allen Beaulieu. All photos by Allen Beaulieu, courtesy Minnesota History Center.
Prince captured by personal photographer Allen Beaulieu. All photos by Allen Beaulieu, courtesy Minnesota History Center.

by Lydia Moran

August 06, 2019

Beginning on Sept. 21, fans can get an intimate look at Prince's career during the period comprising the late 1970s through early 1980s as seen through the eyes of his friend and photographer Allen Beaulieu.

The "Prince: Before the Rain" exhibit at the Minnesota History Center will feature 50 digital prints of Prince, the Revolution, Morris Day and the Time, and other Prince affiliates. In a nightclub-esque space complete with dark walls, purple drapes, and a chandelier, visitors will be able to recline on a round purple velvet couch and gaze at Beaulieu's body of work, which includes the album cover images for Dirty Mind, Controversy, 1999, as well as the recent releases Piano & a Microphone 1983 and Originals, alongside behind-the-scenes candids and live performance shots.


The exhibit draws on Beaulieu's 2018 book of the same name, in which he recounts his relationship with Prince alongside official photographs and outtakes. “The man was beautiful to me. He took me on three tours. I got to see the country. I got to see a rock star. I got to develop a rock star,” Beaulieu wrote in a statement.

The two first met in 1978 after Prince saw Beaulieu's promotional poster for "Shades of Blackness," a fashion show held in downtown Minneapolis, hanging on the wall of bandmate André Cymone's mother's home. They would travel, work, and collaborate with one another before Earth, Wind, and Fire came knocking to steal the Minneapolis photographer from his roots. Ultimately, though, Beaulieu was able to freeze Prince as a playful visionary on the brink of rocketing into superstardom.


"Prince: Before the Rain" opens Sept. 21 at the Minnesota History Center and runs through May 3, 2020.

On Oct. 1 from 6-8 p.m., fans can attend a free panel discussion at the History Center featuring Beaulieu, Dez Dickerson from the Revolution, and DJ Kevin Cole, with The Current's Andrea Swensson moderating.

Also on view at the History Center are artifacts from Prince's next big hit, Purple Rain, at the "First Avenue: Stories of Minnesota’s Mainroom" exhibit, which is also on view through May 3, 2020.

Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.