Somsen Venues

Capacity: 896

Somsen Auditorium

Somsen Auditorium is the University's oldest and largest performance and lecture space, and features an adaptable proscenium stage and promenade balcony.  It is used for a wide variety of activities, including presentations, receptions, special performances, visiting lecturers, guest artists, and serves as the primary location for the university’s Lyceum Speaker Series and the annual Frozen River Film Festival.

John Martin Socha Mural


The Somsen Mural was designed and executed by John Martin Socha (1913-83). It was one of the largest of the New Deal (1935-43) Federal Art Projects in Minnesota, dedicated to Winona State Teachers College on November 7, 1938. Because of its' origins, it is a protected artwork. We acknowledge that the artist relied exclusively on stereotypical imagery and white myths, which convey inaccurate and uninformed messages. Rather than remove or destroy the Somsen Hall mural, the Winona State University community has chosen to give it context with commentary as a reminder that the responsibility of education is to examine tradition and learn from history to improve the future.

Socha employed images that typified the prejudices of his day. Central to the myth of western expansion depicted in the mural was that the coming of the whites and Christianity marked the advent of a superior civilization. Native peoples in this narrative would either assimilate or “fade away,” a euphemism for a long series of wars, forced migrations, treaty violations, and other crimes propagated by white explorers, settlers, and their government. Winona State University recognizes the honor of those whose stories have been excluded or not been honestly told, and the traditions of Indigenous peoples who made this region their home long before the founding of WSU. Their descendants continue to play an important role in its development. With this, and other efforts, WSU pledges to work in cooperation and respect for the betterment of all people.

Jim Brandenburg Photos


Minnesota photographer Jim Brandenburg is internationally known for his nature and wildlife photography.  This collection features images shot in Minnesota, including the iconic “Brother Wolf.  Located on the 2nd floor, it was dedicated in 2010, and made possible through a generous gift by Dr. Ervin Bublitz, retired WSU faculty member.