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Indianapolis Museum of Art renovations


IMA—Indianapolis Museum of Art
4000 Michigan Road
Indianapolis IN 46208-3326
Tel: 317-920-2660
curator is Ted Celenko

Renovations make museum a state-of-the-'art' facility

...Going down to the second floor, you come to the most recent re-opening (Feb. 5), the Eiteljorg Galleries of African and South Pacific Art.

Most of the 12,251 square feet of space is devoted to African art -- a total of 400 works, including 30 pieces that have never been shown in the gallery...

BY WALTER SKIBA Times Correspondent This story ran on on Saturday, February 18, 2006 12:58 AM CST

Stepping into the new Efroymson Entrance Pavilion of the renovated and expanded Indianapolis Museum of Art, you cannot help but see the light. The three-storied glass-walled frontage curves outward, as if wanting to touch the Sulphin Fountain, the surrounding gardens and public spaces, and reach toward downtown Indianapolis. The harmonious connection with the outside world opens onto a spacious, welcoming, non-threatening gathering place on the inside.

An escalator takes you to the Pulliam Great Hall, the central atrium at gallery level one with escalator access connecting all three levels. To the right of the escalator stands the LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana, which used to be located outdoors on the museum grounds. Three tons of steel, the structure has long served as a popular background for wedding portraits and marriage proposals.

On the wall across from the sculpture, Sol LeWitt's abstract "Wall Hanging No. 652," a 30-foot by 50-foot wash on wall recreated with acrylic paints, projects a vibrant mosaic of colors and patterns that seem to further the theme of inter-connectedness.

To the left of the sculpture, the American galleries, unveiled at the IMA's grand re-opening on May 6, house artwork from the late 18th century through 1945, including paintings by Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt and Georgia O'Keeffe. One gallery is devoted to Hoosier art, and the new Native Art of the Americas includes some 100 objects ranging from stone and ceramic sculptures from the Olmec civilization in Mexico to more recent art of American Indian peoples, such as the Cheyenne of the Plains and Iroquois of the eastern woodlands.

A sketch by the great English landscape painter J.W.W. Turner signals the entrance to Turner & Works on Paper galleries, which will re-open Dec. 6, along with the European galleries.

Looking up from the first level, you can glimpse the attention-grabbing "Off the Wall" drawing that fronts the third level contemporary galleries, which re-opened in November. "Garden XXX," done by the art collective assume vivid astro focus mixes images from pop culture, such as video games, science fiction illustrations and graffiti, into a wildly colored psychedelic eye-catching wallpaper collage that appears to migrate to adjacent ceilings and floors. This work will remain on the wall until May 14.

Until Feb. 12, you could take off your shoes and enter into a room-size installation designed by Brazilian-born artist Ernesto Neto. You could interact with the polyester floor covering handmade by women from Brazil or one of the beanbag cushions as you wished. Hopefully the museum will find a way to bring back this unique work, which has been extremely popular with kids.

An extensive collection of works by internationally renowned artist Amy Cutler will open on March 10 and run through June 4. "Her artwork lures the viewer into a mysterious world populated by women, some with elongated noses, teakettle heads, broomstick arms, or wearing altered hoop skirts," says Lisa Freiman, curator of contemporary art at the IMA.

At 25,000 square feet, the contemporary galleries offer 66 percent more display space for works created in a wide variety of media since 1945 than before the museum's expansion.

The $74 million project added 164,000 square feet to the IMA and renovated 90,000 square feet of existing space. More than 15,000 school children visit the museum each year, according to communications manager Jessica Di Santo.

Going down to the second floor, you come to the most recent re-opening (Feb. 5), the Eiteljorg Galleries of African and South Pacific Art.

Most of the 12,251 square feet of space is devoted to African art -- a total of 400 works, including 30 pieces that have never been shown in the gallery.

"The IMA holds one of the nation's most important collections of African art," says curator Ted Celenko. "We cover the entire continent, not just the lower two-thirds, and the artworks range from ancient to contemporary."

Watching the 15-minute orientation video on a flat screen, you learn about the themes of diversity, connections and change. Though it is difficult to generalize about African art, one common feature is that the artworks served important functions in traditional African life. Masks and figures, for example, were created for religious or spiritual use. Jewelry and altars were created to symbolize leadership. Chairs, vessels and cooking utensils were created for household or personal use.

Enlarged photomurals, with accompanying text as needed, help explain the religious, social and political contexts of the art. About 15 to 20 second video clips, projected on another flat screen, show actual ceremonies and artists at work.

The Eiteljorg Gallery of South Pacific Art (1,045 square feet) is showing more than 50 art objects, ranging from ritual masks to bowls, drums and weapons.

Dramatic colors and forms call attention to the Melanesian art, which constitutes most of the display.

Located in the center of the area, the Eiteljorg Gallery for Special Exhibitions (1,100 square feet) presents "West African Ceramic Vessels" (through July 7, 2007). Varied shapes, colors and surface textures bring out the beauty and sophistication of utilitarian objects.

Most of the art objects throughout the three galleries are displayed out in the open on raised platforms rather than behind glass.

Workshops, films and performances help celebrate the re-opening of the African Galleries and Black History Month.

A few examples:

* Art-Making for Families-Personal Adornment: Creative Designs Inspired by Africa (1 to 4 p.m. Feb. 25)

* Family Workshop-Breakdance 101 (noon to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 25)

* Silent film with live music-"Siliva Zulu" (2:30 p.m. Feb. 25)

* Short animated tall tales-African-inspired Folktales (1 to 2 p.m. today, Sunday and Feb. 25)

What to bring ...

1. A camera. You're allowed to take pictures of artworks from the permanent collection, gardens and grounds for personal and educational use. You're not allowed to use flashes or tripods in the IMA galleries, or take pictures of special, limited-run exhibitions.

2. Extra cash to purchase souvenirs, books and museum reproductions at the IMA Store and the Gallery Shop. Enjoy fine dining at Puck's, casual dining at the IMA Café or beverages and pastries at Peet's.

3. Walking shoes and comfortable clothing. Come prepared to explore three floors of artwork. Take advantage of the free coat check available in the Efroymson Entrance Pavilion. (Wheelchairs also are available here.)

If you go ...

Indianapolis Museum of Art

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays, closed Mondays

Where: 4000 Michigan Road, 38th Street and Michigan, Indianapolis

Cost: $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, free for children younger than 12. (Free general admission Thursdays) Free parking available outdoors and in the new 250-space underground parking garage.

FYI: (317) 923-1331 or (317) 920-2660 or 

How to get there ...

Take I-65 into Indianapolis. (Don't get off on I-465.) Take the 38th Street exit and go east to Michigan Road. Turn left (north) and go one block. The main entrance is located on the west side of the street and marked by a traffic light.

What's there ...

Situated on 152 acres of gardens and grounds, the IMA is among the largest general art museums in the U.S., with a collection of more than 50,000 works encompassing the range and scope of art history. The expanded and renovated museum opened May 6. The American, African and contemporary galleries currently are open. The Asian, Paul Textile Art and Paul Fashion Arts Galleries will open June 11. The European and Clowes Galleries will open Dec. 3.

You'll like ...

The inviting, spacious, light-filled ambience of the expanded facility and the overall exhibition quality comparable to the Art Institute of Chicago.

The kids will like ...

On Saturdays the IMA Art Labs offer art-making classes for children from preschool through high school years, designed to be taken with adults. The Star Studio offers direct access to working artists and participation in the creation of art. The X Room is devoted to technology. Online Activities engage young children as well as middle and high school students. For more information, visit .

And don't miss ...

The first-class dining experience at Wolfgang Puck's Restaurant. Plan to spend at least an hour and a half.

read also: Indianapolis Museum of Art


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