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News Release: Legacy gift from DeHaan foundation has impactful results on Eiteljorg Museum

Grant will support visual and performing artists at museum events

Rear exterior view of the Eiteljorg Museum, showing The Sails, an outdoor shade structure under which music and dance performances are held, and the Christel DeHaan Family Terrace. Image courtesy of Zach Malmgren

Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS – A major gift the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art recently received will help the museum support artists who work closely with the Eiteljorg and provide funding for the museum’s own internal operations and needs.

The Christel DeHaan Family Foundation distributed a legacy gift of $2.75 million to the Eiteljorg. This was one of numerous gifts the DeHaan foundation made to nonprofit arts organizations as it dispersed its remaining $55 million in assets.

The legacy gifts were per the wishes of the late Christel DeHaan, the prominent Indianapolis businesswoman and philanthropist, who died in 2020 at age 77. Her instructions were that the DeHaan Family Foundation distribute its funds to arts nonprofits and wind down its operations three years after her death.

The DeHaan foundation’s $2.75 million gift will be added to the Eiteljorg Museum’s endowment. Of that, $2 million will be used specifically for general operating support of the institution’s greatest needs.

Also, $750,000 in the endowment gift will be used to support living artists, such as Native American music and dance groups who perform at Indian Market and Festival, and Native artists in residence who engage with students of all ages, both at the museum and in the local community throughout the year. Since such opportunities are important to the livelihoods of visual and performing artists, the funding could cover costs such as honoraria, travel and lodging, and other needs. It also will allow the museum to engage with more artists and increase artists’ presence at museum events, resulting in more opportunities for visitors to interact with Native artists and performers.

Native American dance performance groups and musicians are among those that could be funded by a $2.75 million gift the Eiteljorg Museum received from the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation.  Pictured here is the Woodland Sky Native American Dance Company, who performed at the Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival in June 2022. File photo.

“Christel DeHaan was a longtime supporter of the Eiteljorg and the entire arts community in Indianapolis, and her foundation’s legacy gift reflects her generosity and long-term vision. We are deeply honored by this gift which will support some of our most important work and impact our community, years into the future,” Eiteljorg President and CEO Kathryn Haigh said.

After DeHaan sold the highly successful tourism business she started, Resort Condominiums International, her DeHaan Family Foundation channeled its founder’s philanthropy into arts organizations from 1997 to 2023. Her past support to the Eiteljorg included her gift to the museum’s Eye on the Future campaign, which resulted in the creation of the Christel DeHaan Family Terrace, an elegant sculpture garden connecting the museum’s outdoor space to the downtown Central Canal. Over the years, grants from the DeHaan Family Foundation also have supported performing artists at the annual Indian Market and Festival, as well as funding for the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, WestFest, the Día de Muertos Community Celebration and artist-in-residence programs. DeHaan also was a member of the Eiteljorg’s Eagle Society for several years.

Christel DeHaan. Image courtesy of the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation.

In recognition of this latest generous gift, the Eiteljorg plans soon to install a plaque with DeHaan’s image in the Christel DeHaan Family Terrace. For information about gifting any amount to the Eiteljorg Museum, contact Nataly Lowder, executive vice president and chief advancement officer, at or 317.275.1311.

About the Eiteljorg
A cultural pillar for nearly 35 years in downtown Indianapolis’ scenic White River State Park, the Eiteljorg Museum seeks to inspire an appreciation and understanding of the arts, histories and cultures of the Native peoples of North America and the diverse peoples of the American West by telling amazing stories. Located on the Central Canal at 500 West Washington St., the Eiteljorg is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

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