UMN takes down photos of The Replacements in Coffman; students and alumni respond

Two photos of the Minneapolis band were displayed in Coffman for nearly a decade until they were removed at the end of May.


Image by Photo by Ethan Lambert

A photo of The Replacements in Coffman Union on August 21, 2018.

by Ethan Lambert

The University of Minnesota’s office for Student Unions and Activities (SUA) recently took down two photos of the seminal Minneapolis rock band, The Replacements. The photos had previously been displayed in Coffman Union for nearly a decade.

The photos of the band were taken in an elevator at Coffman by photographer Daniel Corrigan and were on display in an elevator lobby on the main floor of Coffman.

A University employee posted a tweet at the end of May sharing the two iconic photos of the band were removed. Fans took to Twitter to vent their frustration with the school’s decision.

“The content of the photos was not a factor in the removal of the artwork. Accessibility is an important issue on campus, and Student Unions & Activities is in the process of updating the wayfinding signage in the Union’s spaces to make it easier for all to navigate,” SUA said in an official statement to the Minnesota Daily. “The space where the photos were displayed and others throughout the Union are being reevaluated as part of that larger project.

“There is a display near The Whole Music Club relating to The Replacements’ history at the University of Minnesota,” SUA continued. “We are considering ways to continue honoring this important piece of Gopher legacy in the future.”

While much of the online backlash has come from University graduates of decades past and local music fans, frustrations have also been shared by students who appreciate The Replacements.

Psychology major and local musician Alex Fuller shared his disapproval of the University’s decision.

“The Replacements are experiencing the most mainstream recognition they’ve had in a long time after ‘I Will Dare’ was featured at the end of the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie,” Fuller said. “So right as they’re starting to gain some more popular recognition again, that’s when they choose to take this stuff down? It doesn’t quite make sense to me.”

The Replacements were ahead of their time both musically and lyrically. Their impact on rock music as a whole can still be felt to this day and still resonates decades later.

“They’ve influenced so many people. Most notable would be someone like Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day. The Replacements were the precursor to so much of the rock music that we have today,” Fuller said. “They were super ahead of their time. Listen to a song like ‘Androgynous’ from ‘Let It Be.’ Westerberg was 20 years ahead of his time in terms of inclusivity in his songwriting and looking at these different people and writing songs about it, it’s fascinating.”

Claire Dupont, a 2022 graduate and former president of the Hook Club, a UMN student group centered around weekly album discussions, said the photos of The Replacements were one of her favorite parts of Coffman during her time at the University.

“Because I love The Replacements, every time I went to the student union I went out of my way to go to that elevator lobby to take a look at it just because those pictures make me happy,” Dupont said.

Dupont said the photos displayed in Coffman embodied the charm and character exuded by The Replacements in their heyday, adding character to the building.

“It’s an attitude that I want to stay at the University of Minnesota: lighthearted, serious at times and considerate, but also just fun and bombastic like The Replacements were,” Dupont said. “Their energy is just so Minnesota to me. When I was abroad I would always listen to The Replacements when I was missing home, so I feel like they just very much represent Minnesota to me.”

Dupont sees the current circumstances as an opportunity to make an even better display in honor of The Replacements and their importance to Minneapolis history.

“I always thought they were a little small, this could be an opportunity to give them a more proper space. They have that display at the Whole Music Club, but I’ve never seen it personally,” Dupont said. “It would be nice if there was some sort of showcase on one of the main floors. I want them to be on display, not tucked in a corner.”