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The new Indianapolis Museum of Art

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The Indianapolis Museum of Art transforms itself in a $74 million expansion with new facilities, new exhibits and a new approach to serving patrons.

Sutphin Fountain hasn't moved. It really hasn't. Yet somehow it doesn't look the same -- and not just because it's been cleaned and renovated.

It's because everything around it has changed.

A fixture at the Indianapolis Museum of Art since 1972, Sutphin Fountain is the centerpiece of the newly expanded Indianapolis Museum of Art, the axis around which $74 million worth of new facilities and landscaping were designed.

You can see the results for yourself when the new IMA, which is 170,000 square feet larger than in the past, makes its public debut with an open house May 6-8.

It's an opportunity to take a peek before the museum's new admission fee goes into effect May 12 -- $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and students. (Museum members and children 12 and younger will be admitted free. The museum also will offer free admission to everyone on Thursdays.)

What you'll find is a museum that looks substantially different than it once did. Gone is the temple on the hill -- the building perched atop a long flight of concrete steps and across a wide stone plaza. Originally designed in the late 1960s to evoke a sense of grandeur, over the years it had come to evoke a sense of distance from the community at large.

Gone also is the attitude that seemed to radiate from the place: that the IMA was exclusively for those with money, academic credentials or artistic accomplishments. Along with substantial physical changes, the museum is in the process of remaking its image, with everything from new visitor services and education programs to a marketing campaign.

Staff members call it "the new IMA."

The transformation process began in 1997, when the IMA's board of governors hired architect Jonathan Hess to solve the temple-on-the-hill problem. He has brought the museum down to earth, with three new ground-level facilities designed to invite people in rather than put them off.

"When the museum was originally conceived," said Hess, a partner in local architectural firm Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf and the leader of the IMA project's design team, "the models were pretty well established -- Lincoln Center, for example. But that concept is dated at this point, and it isn't necessarily seen as being very visitor-friendly, especially for a museum that's looking to be inviting to a broad community."

That's precisely the kind of museum that the IMA's board of governors set out to create when the expansion project was first discussed in the mid-1990s, said Bret Waller. As director of the museum from 1990 until his retirement in 2001, he worked with Hess and the board on the project's design and development.

"We felt that once people made it to the galleries where the art was exhibited, we did a pretty good job," Waller said. "But getting there wasn't so nice."

A more welcoming place

The board identified several ways to make the museum more visitor-friendly, said former chairman Richard Wood. Among them were increased gallery, conservation and storage space to allow for larger exhibitions and more displays of items from the permanent collection, as well as a restaurant, a special-events facility and improved parking.

Similar needs have been driving expansion projects at other museums throughout the country. Earlier this month, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis opened a 130,000-square-foot expansion, which includes new galleries, a theater and a restaurant and cafe. Last November, the new 630,000-square-foot Museum of Modern Art opened in New York, complete with new exhibition spaces and a restaurant. And in 2001, the Milwaukee Art Museum opened a new 142,000-square-foot pavilion, with galleries, a lecture hall and a cafe.

But more than space needs drove the project here, Wood said. The goal, radical as it seemed to those who preferred the status quo, was to create a new IMA.

The first step was to create a place that would make visitors feel welcome, said Hess. The Efroymson Entrance Pavilion, a 56-foot-tall, glass-enclosed cylinder, is the museum's new gateway.

It contains a ticket counter (though you won't need it for the reopening weekend, since admission is free), a coat check, an information desk and restrooms. Through its windows, you can gaze out at the newly landscaped grounds -- and Sutphin Fountain.

An escalator leads to the first of three gallery levels in the adjacent Wood Gallery Pavilion. Connected to the museum's existing gallery building, it adds 44,000 square feet of exhibition space, a 50 percent increase in gallery capacity.

The museum will now be able to host large-scale shows such as the International Arts and Crafts Exhibition, which will make the first of its two U.S. stops at the IMA, starting in September. It also means that the museum will be able to show more things from its permanent collection of 50,000 works -- and acquire new pieces while knowing there will be ample space to display them.

The first stop in the Gallery Pavilion is the Pulliam Great Hall, home to "Wall Drawing No. 652," the Sol LeWitt abstract painting that used to adorn the stairwell leading to the main lobby from the old garage. The new location showcases the work's drama and vibrancy.

An X-periment

The Davis X Room, just off the Great Hall, is intended to introduce visitors to the artworks in unexpected ways. Developed in partnership with Indiana University's Visualization Interactive Spaces Lab and its Advanced Visualization Lab, the room features "etx," a table that uses wireless technology to help people make connections among artworks, and "Cabinet of Dreams," a virtual-reality display that allows users to remove objects from a simulated "cabinet" and examine them in a 3-D computer-generated setting.

The X Room encourages visitors to learn about artworks through technology, says Linda Duke, the IMA's director of education. She expects it to have special appeal for the younger visitors museum officials hope to attract.

The X Room is an experiment, she says. "If people don't like or use the things in it, we won't develop them any further."

Meet the robots

At the opposite end of the Great Hall is the Star Studio, another educational space that features both a small gallery and an adjacent studio where artists and visitors can interact through hands-on art activities. Opening in the gallery space on May 6 is "Amorphic Robot Works: The Feisty Children," which features child-sized robots that interact with visitors.

But the majority of space on the first level of the pavilion is made up of the newly configured American Galleries, devoted to American Indian art, Western art, Indiana artists' works and various schools of American painting from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

Other sections on the first level feature the museum's European collections, including its Old Masters, as well as its renowned Neo-Impressionist and School of Pont-Aven collections.

The second and third levels of the Gallery Pavilion contain galleries that will reopen gradually over the next 18 months.

Amid all of the gallery space, there's also room for visitors to take a breather. "I've been in too many museums where there's no place to take a break when you get tired," Hess said, "so we included plenty of space between galleries for benches and chairs where people can sit down for a few minutes."

To give visitors a break from artificial lighting, Hess also included a skylight and windows along the front of the pavilion, which spill natural light into the wide passageways that connect galleries. The windows also look out over the grounds -- and Sutphin Fountain.

In fact, the best view of the fountain is from the Gallery Pavilion -- inside Puck's, the IMA's new fine-dining restaurant on the first level. It's run by Wolfgang Puck's catering operations, as are the adjacent IMA Café, which offers casual dining, and a coffee cart outside the restaurant entrance.

"Every major museum in the country has facilities where people can take a rest and get something to eat," Wood said.

All of the Puck facilities are accessible from the Entry Pavilion. So is the new museum store, which is twice as large as the old Alliance Gift Shop.

From the Gallery Pavilion visitors can enter the new Deer-Zink Events Pavilion, a single-story, wood-and-glass facility that will allow the museum to host dinners and receptions for up to 500 people. The pavilion also will allow the IMA to hold after-hours events that include controlled access to specific exhibitions.

One of the most surprising aspects of the Events Pavilion is its acoustics. At the insistence of donor and immediate past board chairman Randolph Deer, who is extremely sensitive to crowd noise, the spacious pavilion was designed to be reverberation-free. Behind a ceiling that's made up of more than 4,000 hand-cut white oak slats, acoustic insulation and a large empty space absorb sound, leading to a room that's remarkably quiet, even when crowded. What's more, its banks of windows showcase the grounds, including yet again a view of Sutphin Fountain.

Easy access

Both the Efroymson Entrance Pavilion and the Deer-Zink Events Pavilion are accessible from the new parking garage. Rather than clutter up the landscape with an above-ground structure, said former board president Lori Efroymson Aguilera, the board asked Hess to tuck it out of sight. The 250-space garage is under the front lawn.

"We had the beauty of nature all around the museum," said Efroymson Aguilera. "We wanted everything to fit into the surroundings."

As a result, the grounds on top of the garage and surrounding the new facilities have been completely re-landscaped. Gone are the chain-link fence and high bushes that used to make the place look more like a military institution than an art museum. In their place are low stone walls, wrought-iron fencing and low-growing bushes designed to make the museum visible from both 38th Street and Michigan Road.

The heart of the new landscaping is an allée of trees that visually connects the gallery pavilion with Michigan Road, using Sutphin Fountain as its reference point.

Of the combination of new facilities and new landscaping, IMA's interim director Larry O'Connor said, "This is a pivotal event in the museum's history. It solidifies our plan to play off the convergence of art and nature on its site."

O'Connor, an IMA board member who took on the interim position last December after director Anthony Hirschel resigned, said the reopening festivities will provide "a wonderful opportunity to make over the perception of the museum."

Transformation in progress

That makeover began in 2002 when the IMA unveiled the renovated Lilly House and surrounding Oldfields estate gardens, which share the museum's 52-acre site. And it will continue with the development of the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, which the museum board and administration are planning for a 100-acre property just west of the IMA campus.

Along with these physical facilities, the museum is making philosophical and operational changes that are intended to transform the museum's image from a place for the elite to a place for everyone. The need to do that became apparent in the wake of a recent survey that verified what museum officials suspected -- that Indianapolis residents felt the museum was disconnected from the larger community.

To help reshape that perception, the IMA has hired the New York-based firm LaPlaca Cohen, specialists in museum marketing.The result is a multimedia campaign that uses the IMA's initials to re-brand it. For example, for a recent issue of The New York Times, LaPlaca Cohen created an ad with the headline I AM A NEW WORLD OF ART. Other ads that will run regionally are based on the theme "It's My Art."

"This is an opportunity to tear down the wall that has separated the museum from the community," said Arthur Cohen, a founding partner of LaPlaca Cohen. "The message we're trying to communicate is that not only are people welcome at the museum, but the expansion project is all about them."

Welcome mat is out

That's key to the institution's future, said John Thompson, the IMA's current board chairman. A board member since 1996, Thompson is determined to get the word out that the new IMA welcomes everyone.

"The expanded galleries provide an opportunity to have a broader, more inclusive collection of art that a broader, more inclusive audience can enjoy," said Thompson. "Whether it's African-Americans or Asian-Americans or younger people, the museum needs to find ways to reach out to a broader public."

Achieving inclusiveness will rely on making people feel welcome, he acknowledged. One thing the museum has done to meet that goal is retrain the omnipresent security guards. They've been taught how to talk about the artwork on display in the galleries, as well as protect it.

If people have good experiences at the IMA, Thompson said, they'll return -- and bring other people with them:

"Feet on the grounds, feet in the galleries, people pulling up and going to Puck's -- that will be a mark of success to me. I'd like to see all of those feet representing a broad spectrum of the community."
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At IMA, Puck aims to stimulate palates
80-seat fine-dining restaurant will feature a distinct Hoosier flavor.

Restaurants are all the rage in the museum world these days. The Modern at the recently expanded Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Restaurant at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and Gertrude's in the Baltimore Museum of Art are among the country's hottest dining spots.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art hopes to add Puck's to that list. Located on the ground floor of the Wood Gallery Pavilion, the museum's new 80-seat fine-dining restaurant -- and the adjacent 120-seat IMA Café (which also includes a coffee cart outside the restaurant) -- will be operated by acclaimed chef Wolfgang Puck's catering and special-events company, a move that marks a new emphasis on food service for the museum.

The IMA restaurant and cafe aren't Puck's first ventures into museum dining. He has a restaurant at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, as well as two at the newly expanded Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

"Food and art go together," said Puck during a recent telephone interview from Los Angeles, where he has lived for the past 30 years. "To be in a place like a museum where there's a lot of stimulation is really exciting, so the food that's there should be, too."

Before settling in Los Angeles, Puck spent two years in Indianapolis as the head chef at the former La Tour, a Downtown restaurant on the top floor of what was then the Indiana National Bank building. So the IMA venture is a homecoming of sorts for him.

"I'm really excited to be coming back to Indianapolis," said Puck. "It's great to see how the city has grown since I lived there. We want to have restaurants in interesting places, and I love what's being done in Indianapolis."

The decision to include a fine-dining restaurant, as well as a cafe, inside the museum pavilion was an easy one, said former IMA board chairman Richard Wood.

"Every major museum in the country has decent facilities for food service. Everyone needs to have a place to rest and get something to eat during their visit, and the museum needs to have a facility that can provide food for special events."

That's precisely what the Puck operations will do. With an exclusive contract not only to operate the restaurant and cafe, but also to provide all food services for events held on the museum grounds, executive chef Brad Gates knows his 30-person kitchen and catering staff is going to be busy.

But not too busy to focus on quality, he promised during a recent conversation. "We've talked to a lot of local farmers," said Gates. "I've also contacted the best seafood suppliers around the country. We want everything here to be as fresh as possible."

A native of Columbia City, Gates trained at the French Culinary Institute in New York and subsequently worked at that city's Union Square Café, Nila and Pioneer Restaurant, as well as at the Blue Ridge Grill in Atlanta and the Harbor View Hotel on Martha's Vineyard.

Though new to the Puck organization, Gates said he likes its founder's careful approach to expansion. "I think Wolfgang does restaurant expansion as well as I've ever seen it done. He doesn't just go in with a cookie-cutter menu -- he really gets to know the local market and the kinds of foods that people like in a particular place."

That's true, said Puck. "We are always flexible in our restaurants. The first year we'll be figuring out how we can take advantage of the foods that we can get locally. We'll try to find a really experienced gardener, for instance, who can help us grow fresh vegetables right there on the museum grounds."

There will be some of Puck's signature dishes on the menu, too. "We'll have wiener schnitzel," said Puck. "It's my mother's recipe, and people love it. In the cafe, we will have our pizzas, of course."

While the restaurant will be a sit-down, table-service operation with a changing menu, the cafe will be self-service, with everything from salads and sandwiches to pizzas and a coffee bar. There will be seating in the cafe for people who want to eat on-site, but everything also will be available on a grab-and-go basis, said Gates.

The overall plan for Puck's and the IMA Café is to solicit feedback from visitors and make adjustments accordingly.

"We provide a service for visitors that's meant to enhance their whole museum experience," said Puck.

Master chef Wolfgang Puck says he's happy to be opening a new restaurant and café at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. "Food and art go together," he said. "To be in a place like a museum where there's a lot of stimulation is really exciting, so the food that's there should be, too."
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Jonathan Hess chalks up inspiration to driveway drawing

When the Indianapolis Museum of Art opens the doors to its newly expanded facilities May 6, no one's going to be thinking about sidewalk chalk.

Except maybe architect Jonathan Hess.

Five years ago, after months of grappling with the right site for the new glass-enclosed Efroymson Entrance Pavilion, Hess -- a partner in Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf, the firm that designed the new facilities -- found himself standing in his driveway, watching his kids draw with sidewalk chalk.

"It was a beautiful March day," he recalled. "My kids were drawing when I suddenly had this idea. I grabbed a piece of chalk and started sketching on another section of the driveway. When I was done, I knew where the Entrance Pavilion needed to be."

Right where it is today -- at the southern edge of the museum's multi-structure arrangement. But what seems obvious now wasn't in the beginning. Originally, Hess was trying to find a way to wedge the Entrance Pavilion beside Sutphin Fountain, but it threw off the symmetry of the overall design.

So he kept at it, trying to find the right solution. That drive to get it right, to keep pushing for perfection, is a Hess hallmark. It is, in fact, what led to his firm being hired for the IMA project.

"The last time we had done a construction project," said Richard Wood, a past chairman of the IMA's board of governors, "we had used an architect from New York. That didn't work well at all because, once the design work was done, he disappeared. For this project, we wanted someone who was going to stay with the project all the way through."

While other museums have sought out internationally known architects for construction projects (the Denver Museum of Art has hired Daniel Libeskind for its current expansion effort, while the Museum of Modern Art hired Yoshio Taniguchi for its recently opened new facility), the IMA not only wanted a local architect, but one with expertise in museum work. As the designer of the widely admired Eiteljorg Museum, Hess fit the bill.

According to Wood, the board never seriously considered other architects. And that, he said, proved to be a good decision.

"Jonathan went through all sorts of gyrations to help us sort out the design process," said Wood. "When he finally put all of the pieces together and put the model on the table, there was silence. He thought we didn't like it, but when he was done making his presentation, everyone burst into applause."

While Hess appreciates the attention, he's quick to point out that he worked with a team of his firm's architects and landscape designers who helped define and refine the project's many components. Then there are workers who made it happen.

"The guys I really appreciate are the ones who do the physical stuff that makes the vision come to life," said Hess. "There are hundreds of details in a building that depend on the skills of hundreds of people to get right."

While the opening of the new IMA facilities is the culmination of years of work for Hess, he won't have much time to bask in the afterglow. Two other local art institutions also have Hess-designed projects opening this spring. In early June, the new Herron School of Art and Design on the IUPUI campus debuts, and a week later the Eiteljorg reveals its newly expanded facilities.
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IMA to face 'tough' crowd -- museum group's convention

When the renovated Indianapolis Museum of Art debuts, some of the toughest critics around will be on hand -- other museum professionals. In fact, several thousand of them.

The American Association of Museums, which is the national service organization for more than 16,500 individuals and 3,200 museums around the country, is holding its 2005 annual meeting in Indianapolis May 1-5. Included on the agenda is a reception for AAM members at the IMA.

"It's an enormous honor to host our annual meeting," said Edward H. Able Jr., AAM's president and chief executive officer. "It's not only the largest museum meeting in the world, it's the largest cultural meeting in the world. Because of that, we only consider cities that have made a meaningful commitment to developing great museums and a lively cultural life."

Able, who said he's been following Indianapolis' development for 30 years, said the city's continuing efforts to improve and enhance its cultural vitality made it a good choice for this year's AAM event.

"I know of no other city of a comparable size that has the number of great museums and the breadth of types of museums that Indianapolis has," he said. "That makes it an ideal place for us."

Unfortunately, the public won't have access to the meeting, he said. "We'd like to have public events, but it's just too expensive."

Still, the event's presence will have an impact on the city. According to the AAM figures, past meetings have generated about $8 million in revenue for host cities -- though the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association has estimated its impact at a more conservative $3.1 million.
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PDAs in the gallery? It's encouraged

Audio tours of galleries and exhibitions have been a part of visitor services at museums for years. But the recent rise of handheld Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) is allowing museums to customize visitors' gallery experiences even more.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art will introduce a PDA-based wireless system during its grand reopening.. In its pilot phase, the system will provide visitors with information on 16 pieces of art in the American Galleries.

Wireless transmitters located in the galleries will recognize when a visitor with one of the handheld PDAs is nearby. An image of an artwork in a specific gallery will appear on the PDA screen, along with a menu of options for learning more about the piece and the artist who created it. The units will utilize not only static pictures and text, but also animation, video and audio narration.

Visitors can choose to learn as much or as little as they want about a particular work, said Harriett Warkel, the IMA's associate curator of American Art.

The project is an outgrowth of the realization throughout the museum world that the tools that institutions traditionally have relied on to provide visitors with information -- wall labels and panels -- often don't work. That's because they require visitors to stand and read long blocks of text, which is something most people aren't willing to do, said Linda Duke, the IMA's director of education.

A PDA unit allows visitors more control over the amount of information they get at once, said Duke. It also provides a different type of information.

"The handheld can show you visual information that a label can't. For instance, it can show you how an artist used shapes and colors to create a painting."

While there are existing PDA programs on the market for museums, the IMA chose to work with the Informatics Research Institute at IUPUI to create its own proprietary software.

Susan Tennant, the principal investigator and project designer for the research institute, said working with the museum has allowed her to combine her interests in art and technology to enhance gallery visits. She enlisted the help of computer scientists, art historians and artists to create the handheld program.

"We want this experience (using a handheld guide) to be seamless for visitors," said Tennant. "We want there to be a 'Wow!' factor that makes people want to explore individual works of art on a deeper level than they would have otherwise."

IUPUI Professor Mathew Palakal uses a PDA, the user-friendly device programmed with information for museum visitors. Animation and video presentations are some of the ways the handheld device can show how, for example, an artist used shapes and colors to create a painting.
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Community comes through in financing

In the mid-1990s, when the Indianapolis Museum of Art board of governors first began discussing an expansion project, no one anticipated it would amount to $220 million.

But as the project began to expand, costs climbed rapidly. There was $35 million to renovate and restore Lilly House and the surrounding Oldfields grounds and gardens, as well as $74 million to expand the museum by constructing three new buildings and renovate existing ones. Added to that was $80 million for the creation of an acquisitions endowment and $31 million for an operations endowment.

While the acquisitions and operations endowments could be raised over a period of several years, to begin renovation and construction projects, the museum needed more immediate funding. The board turned to member Andrew Paine Jr. for help.

Paine, who was then chief executive officer of Bank One, suggested tax-exempt bonds -- that is, bonds that are available only to nonprofit organizations such as museums and universities. Through Paine, the museum arranged to get $125 million in bonds -- $30 million in 2001, $44 million in 2002 and $51 million in 2004.

The bonds' low interest rates and 35-year maturity made them an attractive financing tool, said Paine. "Tax-exempt bonds are used frequently by institutions like the IMA," he explained. "They can be used to pay for capital costs such as construction."

What's more, having more than the projected $109 million budget on hand provided a safety net for cost overruns.

Aside from allowing the IMA to meet its immediate needs as construction proceeded, the bonds provided an incentive for fundraising.

"They enabled us to go out and say to individuals, 'We want you to participate in this project, but you don't have to do it immediately,' " said Paine. "We could tell them, 'You can make your participation a testamentary gift (a donation that's specified in an individual's will).' "

While bond financing provided funding for the renovation and construction phases of the expansion effort, donor support is ensuring the museum's future. Through the generosity of foundations, corporations and individuals, said Leann Standish, the museum's director of development and communications, the IMA has raised $80 million for its acquisitions fund, and is nearing its $31 million operating endowment goal.

In fact, according to Standish, 90 percent of the money raised so far has come from individuals, ranging from multimillion-dollar donations to gifts of $100. There also have been bequests, gifts of stocks and bonds, and estate contributions. Large pledges are being collected over a seven-year period.

Every dollar matters when it comes to acquisitions and operations, says Standish, because the long-range quality of the museum depends on its ability to continue to add important artworks to its collections and to maintain its facilities well.

Whether for buildings or acquisitions, operations or exhibitions, any institution that sets out to raise significant amounts of money has to know it has a reliable base of support, said former IMA director Bret Waller. "The museum's board and the Indianapolis community have been amazingly generous in pledging financial support. I don't know of many places in this country where you can find this kind of generosity."
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Artist splashes message on walls

When Lisa Freiman thought about the curved passageway leading from the IMA's new underground garage to an escalator up to the Efroymson Entrance Pavilion, it seemed to her that it ought to be more than just a glorified tunnel. Freiman, the IMA's curator of contemporary art, wanted to use the passageway to welcome visitors with a work of art.

Given a nod and a budget, she commissioned internationally known artist Kay Rosen to do a mural. With primary colors, Rosen created a palindrome on both walls of the passageway that reads "Never Odd or Even."

A lifelong fascination with language is the basis for Rosen's career as an artist. She has an undergraduate degree in Spanish and French from Tulane University and a graduate degree in linguistics from Northwestern University.

Rosen's works are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, both in New York, as well as in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the Art Institute of Chicago.

"There's a whole history of using text in art," said Rosen, while in Indianapolis to supervise the creation of her mural at the IMA. "It's wrapped up in the idea of a message. But for me, language is also about structure."

For the IMA project, she created a color pattern (all the E's are blue on a yellow background, for example, while all the D's are blue on a red background).

"It seemed to me that every letter should be its own separate unit," said Rosen. "There shouldn't just be one continuous series of letters all one color."

While Rosen has done a number of public art projects over the years, they've all been temporary installations. "Never Odd or Even" is her first permanent piece of public art.

Kay Rosen displays a miniature sample of what her finished work of art looks like on the walls in the tunnel that connects the IMA parking garage to the main museum entrance. The Gary artist's mural is called "Never Odd or Even."
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The galleries and exhibits

The following galleries and exhibitions will be open in the Wood Gallery Pavilion during the IMA's grand reopening May 6-8:

• American Galleries: With more than double the space it once had for American art, the IMA now has entire galleries devoted to specific periods and styles, from early American portraits and landscapes, to American impressionism, art of the American West and modernism. There's also a permanent gallery for Indiana artists, featuring works by such early 19th-century painters as Jacob Cox and George Winter, as well as such popular Hoosier Group members as T.C. Steele and William Forsyth.

The most significant addition to the museum's American wing is the Native Art of the Americas gallery, which features stone and ceramic sculptures from Mexico's Olmec civilization, Mayan ceramics from Mexico and Guatemala, Peruvian textiles and ceramics, and gold jewelry from Central America. There also are objects from such American Indian tribes as the Cheyenne, the Zuni and the Iroquois. Opening May 6.

• The Clowes Gallery: Displaying works by such artists as Rembrandt and Rubens, this gallery is built around the collection of Old Masters assembled by local collector Dr. George H.A. Clowes and his wife, Edith Whitehall Clowes, from the 1930s through the 1950s. It will be open May 6-Nov. 1, then it will close for a yearlong renovation, reopening in November 2006.

• The European Galleries: Home to the modernist works of such luminaries as Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Georgia O'Keeffe, as well as North America's most comprehensive collection of neoimpressionist works (including Georges Seurat's famous "The Channel at Gravelines, Petit Fort Philippe") and the renowned Josefowitz Collection of Gauguin and the School of Pont-Aven, these galleries will be open through Nov. 1. Then they will close for renovation, reopening in November 2006.

• Star Studio: Accessible from the ground level, this new public education space consists of a 1,500-square-foot gallery and a 450-square-foot studio where artists will interact with visitors. Opening May 6 is "Amorphic Robot Works: The Feisty Children," an exhibit of a dozen interactive robots designed by a group of artists, engineers and technicians. May 6-July 31.

• X-Room: Located on the American Galleries level, this is the museum's new technology room. It features an interactive display station that allows visitors to use wireless tools to learn about more than 170 pieces of art from the museum's collection. One tool projects an image of a work on a wall and shows how it connects to other pieces in the collection. On another wall, a second tool projects information about the selected work. And on yet another wall, the third tool shows where the artwork is located in the museum.

Also in the X-Room is a virtual-reality activity that encourages visitors to open the doors of a holographic cabinet and remove artworks from the cabinet to examine in three dimensions. Wearing special eyewear (high-tech versions of 3-D movie glasses), visitors can focus on the details of a piece of art. Opening May 6.

• Raphael's La Fornarina: One of the most famous works of the Italian Renaissance, "La Fornarina," is being shown for the first time in the United States. It's making only three stops in the country -- and the IMA is one of them. There also will be 15 other works of art on display that relate to Raphael's painting. May 6-June 26.

• Giovanni Bellini and the Art of Devotion: Three paintings from the workshop of Bellini (another Italian Renaissance painter) will be exhibited along with X-rays, infrared imagery and cross-sections of paint to show how Renaissance painters created their works. May 6-Sept. 4.

• Overbeck Pottery of the Arts and Crafts Movement: Highlighting the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the Overbeck sisters of Cambridge City, whose pottery was an important part of the American Arts and Crafts movement, this exhibition will feature not only some of the vases, bowls and figurines that made them famous, but also some of the watercolors and pencil tracings the sisters used to design their works. May 6-Jan. 8, 2006.

• The Morel Cup: A stunning mid-19th-century carved bloodstone cup by French jeweler Jean-Valentin Morel, this 2004 acquisition makes its public debut in a special "coming attractions" display in the American galleries on the first level starting May 6.

• Indiana Artists Club Annual Exhibition: As the first exhibition in the new Ground Level Gallery, this show will feature works in a variety of media and styles from artists who belong to one of the state's oldest visual-arts organizations. May 6-June 26.

Future highlights to watch for in the Gallery Pavilion:

• International Arts and Crafts: From Sept. 25 to Jan. 22, the IMA will be the first of only two American museums to show this comprehensive exhibition organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Featuring furniture, textiles, paintings, ceramics, books, posters, metalwork, photography, stained glass and jewelry, it will be the largest Arts and Crafts exhibition ever organized.

• Ernesto Neto: On the third level, Brazilian sculptor Ernesto Neto will create an installation specifically for the new Forefront Gallery. It will be up from Nov. 20 to Feb. 12.

• Contemporary art: Also opening on the third level in November are the rest of the Contemporary galleries, which will feature works by such figures as Andy Warhol, Donald Judd, Bill Viola and (of course) Robert Indiana, whose LOVE sculpture is an IMA icon.

• Eiteljorg Galleries: When they reopen in February, these galleries on the second level will contain pieces from the museum's collection of African artworks (which exceeds 2,000 items).

• Asian Galleries: Among the works contained in these galleries, which reopen on the second level in June 2006, are a group of nearly 200 bronzes, jades, porcelain pieces, ceramics and paintings that span 4,000 years of Chinese history; Chinese paintings from the Ming and Qing dynasties; and rare Japanese paintings from the Edo period.

• Paul Textile Arts Gallery: This new space, which opens in June 2006 on the third level, will stage exhibitions based on the museum's collection of rare Baluchi rugs (which is the largest of any public institution in the United States), along with more than 3,000 other Asian textiles and the most significant group of Moroccan embroideries and rugs in the country.

• Paul Fashion Arts Gallery: Also opening in June 2006 on the third level, this new gallery will feature displays drawn from the IMA's clothing collection, which includes everything from 19th- and 20th-century European and American costumes and accessories to the creations of such noted Indiana-born designers as Norman Norell, Bill Blass and Halston.

A carved wooden stool in the form of a leopard, done by a member of the Baule people of Cote d'Ivoire, Western Africa, is part of the IMA's collection of African objects.
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alot of Sounds like a really cool place and a great addition to Indy. Im going to watch Oceans 12 now..but when I get some time..Ill read the entire thing. :)
Some renderings:

The new Indianapolis Museum of Art

The new Efroymson Entry Pavilion

The new Wood Gallery Pavilion

The new Garden Pavilion

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Thanks for the renderings--I happened to drive by the IMA today, and it looks completely different--the old pavilion isn't even visible from 38th Street--the museum looks great among the parks and boulevards in that part of town. Speaking of which--38th street in that part of town is coming along nicely. The median has new plantings, lights and short wrought-iron fences--very classy, and a wonderful gateway to the expanded museum.

On the other hand, I was also on lower Lafayette Avenue, south of Lafayette Square, and that area is a real mess--are there any redevelopment proposals for that part of town???
Wow, that looks really good! I'm jealous that Charlotte hasn't managed anything of this quality yet.
Looks like something to be proud of. Congrats Indy. I can't wait for more detailed renderings.
There won't be any more detailed renderings as the museum is opening in a couple of weeks. What we need is somebody to get out there with a camera and post some photos.
This project is KEY to Indy's new push in the arts. We hae always been ahead of the pack when compared to peer cities in that we have an opera, symphoney, ballet, etc. Now, with the "museumplein" (I took this from Amsterdam because we have an area of concentrated museums) at White River State Park, the Children's Museum, and the new IMA, we are starting to nip on the heels of much larger cities!
Museum design unifying, but not dazzling

By Lawrence W. Cheek
Star correspondent

Suddenly, life has gotten tough for museum architects. A new generation of patrons, baptized in the commotion of the Internet, demands an endless stream of sensory stimulation. Cities, hungry for publicity and tourist spending, crave dazzling, iconic buildings. And every major new art museum faces outrageous comparisons -- in Indy's Midwestern neighborhood alone, with Santiago Calatrava's swooping steel pterodactyl in Milwaukee and Zaha Hadid's gut-punching Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati .

And you'll see on your first visit that the Indianapolis Museum of Art isn't running in that fast pack. It doesn't make knees tremble with the shock of Architecture Power, and it won't win international acclaim or notoriety. It's fair to ask whether this $74 million addition and renovation should have reached for these stars, and a few paragraphs along, we will.

But meanwhile, what architect Jonathan Hess of Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf has given the city is a beautifully crafted, problem-solving building that offers more architectural intrigue than appears at first introduction. "I hope that by about their third visit, people will start to get it," Hess says.

Pay attention, and it will happen. The details add up.

Notice, for example, how the new wing on the east side doesn't embrace the older complex -- a clump of shoeboxes assembled between 1970 and 1990 -- at the predictable right angles. It's skewed 51/2 degrees off axis, just enough to invest an underlying tension in the marriage without starting fights .

The squeezed-ellipse form of the entrance pavilion reappears like a Wagnerian leitmotif in several other contexts, such as the skylights in the tunnel from the parking garage and the ceiling of the special-events pavilion. Walls that appear flat and straight at first glance actually turn out to be subtle bulges or concavities .

And Hess solved the thorniest aesthetic problem of all with considerable skill -- herding this menagerie of new and existing forms into a coherent composition from at least one vantage. Look at the building from the mall on the new main entrance off Michigan Road, and the many pieces settle into a calm, well-balanced composition folded around Sutphin Fountain. It isn't dramatic, but neither is it chaotic or lurid -- which some of the iconic museum buildings of the last decade decidedly are .

One of the IMA board's prime goals was to renovate the museum's image through its architecture, and Hess has made progress on this front. The elitist temple-on-the-hill aloofness of the 1970 building has evaporated, and the glass walls of the entrance pavilion are a credible way to give the complex a touch of transparency where it greets the public. Still, there's no way to minimize the immensity of the place, which at 492,000 square feet now ranks among the country's 10 largest art museums. There's a lot of Indiana limestone piled up to 60 feet overhead, and it's never going to whisper intimate invitations .

It's in the invitation where Hess missed opportunities. The serpentine corridor leading from the parking garage to the museum fails to evoke any feeling of a special destination ahead; it could lead to the food court in a mall .

It's a curious lapse, because the kiva-like chamber Hess designed two decades ago to funnel visitors from underground parking into the Eiteljorg Museum is that museum's magical space. A trickle of water down a two-story stone slab recalls the canyons of Utah and Arizona and effectively establishes a mood of contemplative serenity. In such places, architecture becomes art, not merely craft. Art engages emotions; craft encloses space.

The entrance pavilion also needs to soar higher, metaphorically and maybe literally. It's the one element of the building that is mostly unburdened with practical concerns, such as keeping sunlight and rain off the paintings, and it could have offered more drama. It's too empty, and it reveals itself all at once. It needs a shiver of contemplative mystery in a counterpoint of light and shadow or a dramatic sculptural gesture such as the slashing stairwell ramps in the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center.

How well the new gallery spaces work will depend on how the curatorial staff develops them. Hess has provided worlds of flexibility in a stack of three 13,000-square-foot galleries that can be subdivided to meet future needs. Each features one enormous, east-facing window over Sutphin Fountain that museum-goers will appreciate -- natural light comforts us, subliminally marking the flow of time -- and museum staff will hate. Windows work best in museums when they're strategically positioned to admit light more subtly and indirectly .

None of the galleries, or even the imposing 60-foot-high Great Hall and Sculpture Court, attempts overt architectural drama or mind games. There are sly tricks, like the slightly convex bow of the white oak escalator screens, that keep the building from feeling too cold and stiff, but they stop well short of perversity or humor .

"I'm always a little concerned when architects put themselves first in the priority stream," Hess says. "All of a sudden, the architecture becomes the art. I see our job as simply bringing some grace and beauty to the presentation."

Fair enough. Humility is an underrated virtue among architects, and it's not unheroic to design an art museum in which the art remains the star of the show. The Cincinnati Contemporary could never work as a general art museum because its confrontational mood exudes a sizzling ambient tension. Impressionist landscapes would be nuked in there.

But now, the big question: Is this museum what Indianapolis, a city long on war memorials but short on distinctive modern architecture, needs?

In a news briefing two weeks ago, Hess explained that "we found some great architecture and great landscape" in the existing museum complex, "and we wanted to be sure that what we did was commensurate and sensitive." Hess has a reputation as a diplomat, and that was an exceedingly diplomatic stretch.

The 1970 museum was far from great. Its design arose in the Formalist school that flared briefly in the '60s and '70s, then disappeared, to no one's regret. These were vaguely classical, ponderous monuments that thudded into their sites and ignored such pesky considerations as local culture and history, the textures of the surrounding land and how humans relate to big buildings.

In trying to remain "sensitive" to this monster, Hess limited the sensitivity with which he could relate the entire complex to the site. This lovely, ravine-furrowed woodland cries for quiet, low-profile architecture that would flow over the land in an organic embrace. An ideal world would have provided a clean slate.

And an ideal Indianapolis Museum of Art would be leading the city into the new century with a building that reaches deep into regional culture and history and landscape to create not just a good generic museum environment -- which this one does -- but also one that belongs, indelibly, to Indianapolis. That building would not need to dazzle, but it would be iconic.

As Scott Russell Sanders, Indiana's (and arguably America's) finest essayist, wrote: "The more fully we belong to our place, the more likely that our place will survive without damage." He was writing about people, but the words apply perfectly to architecture.

Lawrence W. Cheek is architecture critic for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and a contributing editor for Architecture magazine. He is an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects.
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I've seen the new building several times and I must say I really do like it. It is a great improvement over the old building, and the design is pleasing, without being too crazy.
What a great addition to the city. From first glance the project looked like some sort of medical complex, but then I realized I'm an idiot. It's beautiful.
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