Eiteljorg Musuem Blog

Create experiences for our visitors | Train to become an Eiteljorg Guide

by Amy Baum Goodwin, Eiteljorg guide | Aug 14, 2013


After wanting to volunteer at the Eiteljorg for a long time, this past year I signed up to become a guide, not knowing exactly what to expect.  Soon I was learning about the art and artifacts that Harrison Eiteljorg carefully collected on his trips to New Mexico and Colorado.  Because of his tremendous collection and the continued work of the museum, anyone who visits the Eiteljorg is transported to the American West or to another time, immersed in the architecture, the painted and sculpted images of the West and the artifacts created by people who mastered the possibilities of resources available to them.

The guide course, led by Cathy Burton,the museum’s director of education, explores many aspects of the collection, such as the variety of materials used to create the art and artifacts on display, how those works were made, and the history surrounding them. We discovered the multitude of uses for a bison and a whale, the way that porcupine quills are collected and prepared to make intricate, detailed work on baskets or on leather, and the variety of grasses available in different regions of North America to create baskets or hats or to build homes.

male guide

Guides create their own tours, selecting the works that most interest them and that they think visitors might want to know more about. After the course concludes, guides continue meeting each month to discuss new exhibits and events at the museum and listen to speakers on various relevant topics.

 Taking on this challenge has been exciting because I get the chance to step out of my routine and frequently talk with people of different ages about topics that truly interest me. Giving a tour initiates a conversation with visitors, and that brings the West and the history of American Indians to life for them and for me as well.

On one of my first tours, I discussed the “three sisters”, the agricultural process of growing corn, beans and squash together in a mound. The three plants benefit each other when grown this way. After showing the sixth-grade group I was guiding an illustration of the three plants growing together, one student responded, “I had read about that, but I never understood it before.”That is what makes being a guide so rewarding.

Guide training is held just once a year. For more information on how to become a museum guide please contact Deborah Kish at or (317)275-1325. 
Amy Baum Goodwin

Guides pictured above:
               Linda Maguire
               Herma Compton
               Dr. Paul Schneider


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