Museum Spotlight: Indianapolis Museum of Art

Located on 152-acres of lush gardens, historic sites and inspiring gallery spaces, the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) is dedicated to enriching lives through exceptional experiences with art and nature.

The Dudley & Mary Louise Sutphin Mall, in front of the IMA’s main museum building, is home to Roy Lichtenstein’s "Five Brushstrokes" and Robert Indiana’s iconic "LOVE" sculpture. The IMA campus features a variety of outdoor sculptures, including a 100-acre sculpture park with original commissions and site-specific works. Courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Founded in 1883, the IMA is among the ten oldest and ten largest encyclopedic art museums in the United States. With more than 54,000 objects spanning 5,000 years of history, the IMA has numerous special exhibition spaces which regularly display works from both the Museum’s permanent collection and other institutions. The 2014 exhibition Face to Face: The Neo-Impressionist Portrait, 1886-1904 showcased the IMA’s significant collection of Neo-Impressionist paintings—one of the largest public collections in America. In 2015, the IMA hosted the traveling exhibition Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas, featuring rare concept cars from the 1930s to the 21st century. Most recently, the IMA exhibited its significant collection of woodblock prints from German-born printmaker Gustave Baumann in Gustave Baumann, German Craftsman - American Artist.

The Clowes Pavilion houses the IMA’s significant collection of Old Master paintings. Courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

The IMA relocated to its current location adjacent to the historic Oldfields estate in 1967. The Country Place Era estate features landscape design by Olmstead Brothers’ architect Percival Gallagher and contains a ravine garden, formal garden, greenhouse, orchard and more. The 26-acre estate is a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The centerpiece, Lilly House, has been restored to the 1930s and hosts rotating exhibitions. Currently on display through October 2016 is Tiffany, Gorham, and the Height of American Silver, 1840-1930.

The IMA also owns the Miller House and Garden in Columbus, Indiana, one of the country’s most highly regarded examples of mid-century Modernist residences. Also a National Historic Landmark, the house is opened for scheduled public tours.

The Miller House & Garden in Columbus, Ind. is one of two National Historic Landmarks owned by the IMA. Courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Museum highlights include the largest of works by J.M.W. Turner outside of Great Britain, a significant collection of works by Gauguin and the School of Pont-Aven, more than 2,000 works of African art, and the Clowes Collection—one of the most extensive private collections of Old Master paintings ever assembled in the Midwest. The IMA has one of the largest and most significant Asian art collections in the United States. Between 1947 and 1961, Museum benefactor Eli Lilly purchased approximately 200 bronzes, ceramics, jades and paintings for the IMA. In 2000, the IMA acquired 75 hanging scrolls and folding screens representing major artists and styles of Japan’s Edo period.

The IMA’s rapidly growing contemporary art collection can be found throughout the IMA campus. The Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion hosts rotating installations from contemporary artists. Currently on view is a hanging book installation by British sculptor Richard Wentworth titled Richard Wentworth: False Ceiling—Indianapolis. The June M. McCormack Forefront Galleries also features rotating contemporary art exhibitions, with recent shows by Julianne Swartz, Bill Viola, Michelle Grabner and Jacco Olivier. In 2010, the IMA opened The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres. The public park and nature preserve contains hiking trails, diverse wildlife, a 35-acre lake and large-scale outdoor sculptures. It is one of the largest museum art parks in the country and one of the few to feature ongoing commissions of temporary, site-responsive artworks.

The IMA’s Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO, Dr. Charles L. Venable, joined the Museum in 2012 and recently extended his contract until 2026. Over the past few years, the IMA has focused on innovation. The IMA Lab, the Museum’s award-wining technology consulting arm, executes both internal and external projects for museums around the country. Last fall, the IMA hosted North America’s first-ever MuseumNext conference and received a $10 million grant from the Lilly Endowment to establish an Innovation Fund. The ARTx Series, made possible by a gift from the Efroymson Family Fund, provides engaging and accessible programming to bring new audiences to the Museum. An artist-designed Mini Golf course opening in May invites guests to interact with art in an unexpected way. IMA membership recently reached an all-time high and continues to grow as the Museum works to expand its audience and enhance guest experience.

Learn more about the Indianapolis Museum of Art at www.imamuseum.org.