News Release: With exhibits and events, Eiteljorg Museum celebrates 30 years of telling amazing stories

News Release: With exhibits and events, Eiteljorg Museum celebrates 30 years of telling amazing stories

Exterior front view of the Eiteljorg Museum building
Photograph courtesy of Jessica Strickland Photography, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS – The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in 2019 celebrates its 30th year as a renowned cultural institution locally and nationally with compelling new art exhibitions and events taking place this spring.

The Eiteljorg kicked off its anniversary year March 9 with the opening of a new featured exhibition, A Sense of Beauty: Showcasing Power and Beauty in Native Art. Visitors will enjoy rarely-seen works of Native American art arranged in eye-catching installations, including a “tree” of jewelry,” a “waterfall” of baskets tumbling down a wall, a “whirlwind” of weavings suspended in mid-air and a “river” of pottery meandering through the special exhibition gallery. Reflecting the work of artists representing many cultures, regions and styles, A Sense of Beauty underscores the museum’s serious commitment to building a deep, significant Native art collection. The exhibition will be open through Aug. 4.

On March 30, the Eiteljorg opened another exhibition: Bringing Friends Together: Contemporary Hopi Carvings from the Eagle, Perelman and Rader Collections. Focusing on beautiful and fascinating kachina carvings, this exhibit explores how three art-collecting couples who have been longtime Eiteljorg supporters forged friendships with Hopi artists and with each other. Together, these three collectors have given the museum what is arguably the finest collection of contemporary kachina carvings anywhere. The exhibit continues in the Eiteljorg’s Paul Gallery through July 28.

Friday March 29, 2019, the Eiteljorg hosted a 30th anniversary party, catered by Kahn’s Catering, to celebrate the milestone birthday and the new exhibit openings with museum supporters.

“Over the past 30 years, the Eiteljorg has evolved into a nationally renowned institution and pillar of Indianapolis’ cultural community,” museum President and CEO John Vanausdall said. “As we have developed new and lasting relationships with community leaders and supporters, we have grown in countless ways. Our founder’s love for Western and Native American art was at the heart of a new museum that opened its doors to the public in 1989. We wonder if Harrison Eiteljorg could have imagined how much the collection and the museum itself would grow in the subsequent years.”

Les Namingha (Hopi-Tewa/Zuni, born 1967)
Late Mirovian Period Pueblo Jar, 2015
Clay, paint
Gift of Steve and Jane Marmon

Focusing on the diverse art, history and cultures of the American West, the Eiteljorg Museum exhibits outstanding works of Native and First Nations artists. Known for its scholarly work and publications, the Eiteljorg also houses one of the world’s best collections of contemporary Native art, much of it acquired through the biennial Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship. The museum’s Western art collections – featuring works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, Howard Terpning and many others – is highlighted in the exhibit Attitudes: The West in American Art in the newly renovated galleries that reopened in November 2018.  On Sept. 6-7, the museum will host the 14th annual Quest for the West® Art Show and Sale, where the nation’s top current Western artists will converge in Indianapolis and offer recent works.

During the Eiteljorg’s anniversary year, public programs and education are a major focus. From April 5 to June 15, the Eiteljorg lead a city-wide reading of the Western novel True Grit by Charles Portis, through the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read program. On June 1, freedom was the theme of the Juneteenth Community Celebration. On June 22-23, the museum hosted the 27th annual Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival, where Native and First Nations artists from more than 50 cultural groups show and sell their beautiful fine art, including jewelry, pottery, basketry and sculpture, and visitors experience music and dance performances. On Wednesday evenings in June and July, the Eiteljorg hosts a free outdoor concert series, Summer Under The Sails.

Each fall, the museum welcomes artists in residence who lead art-making opportunities for the public. The Eiteljorg conducts art-outreach events with four underserved neighborhoods on the Near West Side of Indianapolis. On Oct. 26, the Eiteljorg hosts the free annual Day of the Dead community celebration with Nopal Cultural. The holiday model train exhibit Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure returns Nov. 16 for its tenth year.

A traveling exhibit of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, For A Love of His People:  The Photography of Horace Poolaw, is on view at the Eiteljorg Museum, now through April 5, 2020.

Through the generosity of collectors who donated art, including founder Harrison Eiteljorg, as well as the George Gund family, Betsey Harvey, Helen Cox Kersting, Kenneth “Bud” Adams, Mel and Joan Perelman, Jane and Steve Marmon, the Western Art Society and many others, the museum is home to thousands of artworks. In developing a national reputation for excellence, the Eiteljorg is fortunate to have had the support of The Lilly Endowment, Inc., and other philanthropic organizations and sponsors. Museum supporters, members, visitors and volunteers also have been integral to the efforts of the Board of Directors and staff to keep the Eiteljorg a vibrant, constantly innovating institution, Vanausdall noted.

The Eiteljorg Museum’s 30th anniversary events are sponsored by Capital Group, Ice Miller, Barnes & Thornburg, LLP, Care Institute Group, Inc., Roberts Camera and Sycamore Advisors, LLC. For details of all Eiteljorg’s upcoming art exhibits, programs, activities, hours, admission and discounts, visit the museum’s newly redesigned website,

Susan Point (Musqueam Indian Band, born 1952)
Arrival, 1996
Carved glass, wood
Edition 14/15
Museum purchase from New Art of the West 7 with funds provided by Mike and Juanita Eagle

About the Eiteljorg Museum
Celebrating 30 years of telling amazing stories in 2019, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art was named one of the USA Today Readers’ Choice 10 Best Indiana Attractions.

In the late 1980s, Indianapolis businessman Harrison Eiteljorg and other civic leaders sought to create a local museum to house Mr. Eiteljorg’s vast art collection that included major Native and Western artworks. A fundraising effort led to creation and construction of the 501c3 nonprofit Eiteljorg Museum that opened in June 1989 as the first tenant of the White River State Park.

The award-winning Eiteljorg Museum building was designed by local architect Jonathan Hess with significant input from Harrison Eiteljorg. A second construction phase in 2005 doubled the size of the original 1989 building and added the Clowes Court ballroom, Museum Cafe, the Christel DeHaan Family Terrace and the Watanabe Gardens. Located on the Central Canal at 500 West Washington St., the museum with its Southwest architecture often is rented for wedding receptions and corporate events. Under the museum’s five-year strategic plan, Project 2021, the second floor Native American galleries will be completely renovated and reinstalled by fall 2021.


Media Contacts:
Bryan Corbin
Public Relations Manager

Bert Beiswanger
Director of Marketing and Communications

Hyacinth Rucker
Digital Communications Manager