Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Summer renovations will lead to fall reopening of Western galleries

    by | | Jun 06, 2018

    Wilson Hurley_October Suite, Grand Canyon

    Exciting changes ahead will enhance the public’s enjoyment and appreciation of the Eiteljorg Museum’s two main Western art galleries.

    The Art of the American West Gallery and the Gund Gallery, both on the museum’s first floor, are being renovated this summer, and the beautiful paintings, sculptures and other objects seen in them will be reinstalled. Exciting new acquisitions and interactive activities will help convey the history and meaning of the art, allowing visitors to have deeper and more exciting experiences.

    Since early May, the two galleries have been temporarily closed. Beginning on Saturday, June 9, a portion of the Art of the American West Gallery will be temporarily reopened so visitors still can experience some of their favorite Western art works on exhibit through Aug. 6, when it will temporarily close again.

    Renovations are timed so that the Art of the American West Gallery can house the 13th annual Quest for the West® Art Show and Sale, from Sept. 7 to Oct. 7. Once completed, the reinstalled Western galleries will fully reopen to the public in mid-November. Beyond familiar works, new acquisitions will be featured, including compelling works by African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic and Native American artists.

    With only a portion of the building under renovation and the rest of the museum open as usual, there still is much for visitors to see and do at the Eiteljorg this summer. The Reel West exhibit about Hollywood Westerns remains open, as are the Native American galleries on the second floor, the two new exhibits Interwoven: Native American Basketry from the Mel and Joan Perelman Collection and Harry Fonseca: The Art of Living, and the R.B. Annis Western Family Experience downstairs. The Museum Store and Museum Café are open for business, and enjoyable programming events are held at the Eiteljorg throughout the summer.

    To conveniently plan their visits around the changes, visitors can get the latest updates by checking the Eiteljorg’s social media — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — or its website,, or by calling Guest Services at 317.636.WEST (9378).


    Image caption:

    Wilson Hurley (American, 1924 – 2008)
    October Suite, Grand Canyon, 1991
    Oil on canvas
    Museum Purchase through the generosity of Harrison Eiteljorg

    This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Storyteller magazine. 

  • The Reel West: Blockbuster exhibit on Hollywood Westerns keeps rolling at the Eiteljorg Museum

    by | | Jun 05, 2018

    The Reel West_032

    From the classic era to modern day, the Eiteljorg’s 2018 featured exhibit The Reel West explores the fascinating influence our favorite Western movies and TV shows have had on shaping American identity and influencing American culture. Featuring costumes, props, interactives and more, some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities and popular Westerns are represented in The Reel West.

    Fans have the chance to see Danny Glover’s boots from Silverado, hats worn by Clint Eastwood in Rawhide and Pale Rider, a mask, shirt, hat, scarf and gun belt worn by The Lone Ranger (actor Clayton Moore), a hat worn by Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained, items from several John Wayne films, costumes worn by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Antonio Banderas in the Zorro movies and so much more. The Reel West is a true delight for movie fans of all ages.

    As The Reel West continues, so does an exciting array of programs that provide ample opportunities to return to the museum:

    • Saturday, July 7, 1 p.m. — Join Bruce Morgan, former Hollywood stunt performer, for an action-packed presentation as he unveils the secrets behind iconic Western stunts.

    • Saturday, Aug. 11, 1 p.m. — Author and historian Chris Enns focuses on the lives of some of Republic Studios’ most notable actresses from B-movie Westerns and the roles they played on and off screen.

    • Friday, Aug. 24, 5–8 p.m. — Wild Western Trivia Night: Don’t miss your chance to show off your knowledge of Hollywood Westerns during this entertaining trivia competition. For registration, contact or 317.275.1348.

    Eiteljorg Film Series

    Western films shown at the Eiteljorg are included with museum admission, and members are free.

    • July 7, 11 a.m. — The Searchers (1956) starring John Wayne

    • Aug. 4, 11 a.m. — Tombstone (1993)

    • Aug. 11, 11 a.m. — The Cowboy and the Senorita (1944)

    • Sept. 22, 11 a.m. — The Magnificent Seven (1960)

    • Sept. 28 — City Slickers (1991) Outdoor evening film showing, with chuck wagon grub.

    Westerns at the IMAX at the Indiana State Museum

    The IMAX Theater next door to the Eiteljorg will give Western film fans the chance to see classics on the largest screen in the state.

    • June 12, 7 p.m. — No Country for Old Men (2007)

    Tickets at

    Check for additional film screening dates.

    The Reel West_001

    This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Storyteller magazine. 

  • The Tillers Kick Off Summer Under The Sails Concert Series on Wednesday, June 6 at the Eiteljorg Museum

    by Rachel Foley, marketing and communications intern | Jun 04, 2018
    On Wednesday, June 6, The Tillers will perform as the first act in the summer-long Summer Under The Sails concert series that’s back for a fourth season at the Eiteljorg Museum.  Every Wednesday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. through Aug. 1, music acts will perform concerts under The Sails along the canal. The concerts are free and guests are invited to sit back and relax under The Sails, enjoy appetizers from the Museum Café and grab a drink from the cash bar. Admission to the museum, including The Reel West exhibit, is free from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays during the concert series.


    The Tillers are a string band with bite — steeped in old-time bluegrass flavor and garnished with an aggressive spirit that carries the listener through stories of the Ohio River Valley. Instrumentally, they are traditional folk storytellers using banjo, guitar, upright bass, fiddle and harmonica to construct a full, fast-paced sound. However, the Cincinnatian foursome of Mike Oberst, Sean Geil, Aaron Geil and Joe Macheret spent many of their formative years involved with punk and rock music, and the influence is evident in their recorded and live performances.

    According to Sean Geil, vocalist and guitarist, they have yet to do many summer concert series but are excited to perform June 6 at the Eiteljorg outdoor stage. They will feature their original bluegrass, folk and old-time songs from their four studio records and even hinted at performing some cowboy-style songs, attributing Oklahoma music legend Woody Guthrie as a major influencer. Geil also said that audience members could expect a tune from their 2013 release titled “Tecumseh on the Battlefield” — a fast-paced telling of the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe between the Shawnee tribe and Gen. William Henry Harrison’s army.

    The band’s self-titled March release, The Tillers, marks their newest era and comes five years after their last record, Hand on the Plow. Although known for their live performance style and fast-paced intensity, the band had struggled to translate that sensation into the recorded version. 

    “It’s been a journey to figure it out,” Geil said. “You’re trying to nail the take and get everything just right, but you’re not thinking as much about the performance. With the new (album) we finally were able to harness that energy and put it on a record.”

    Beyond local club performances and house shows, The Tillers have shared a stage with some of the biggest names in bluegrass and folk. In 2010, The Tillers were able to open for Grammy award-winning guitarist and songwriter Doc Watson and played alongside folk star Iris Dement in 2012. The band also toured with Pokey LaFarge in 2013 and the Hackensaw Boys in 2017, helping to grow their audience and following across the region.

    “Opening for people like Doc Watson and Iris Dement, those people are heroes and have really, truly influenced our music. It’s just an honor. We’ve worked with amazing musicians and they’ve all been extremely kind,” Geil said. 

    Geil is one of the main vocalists and guitarist for The Tillers and has been with the band since its start in 2007. Mike Oberst, another founding member, also does vocals and plays the banjo. Aaron Geil, brother of Sean, joined in 2010 as the upright bassist and in 2015, the guys welcomed fiddler Joe Macheret to the group. 

    “There’s just something about the chemistry this group of guys has on stage. No matter what’s going on with anything else in our lives, we can zone out and use the music as a release and an escape from reality. The reaction from the crowd on a good night can make everything great, and the connections that we make with our audience are priceless,” said Geil, who has played in several bands throughout the years.

    The Tillers attribute much of their soul and style to their Cincinnati roots and its loyal, DIY music culture. Despite growing up in a rural southeast Indiana, Geil has always considered himself a Cincinnatian and spent his younger years exploring the punk rock and hardcore scene of that city’s west side, which he considers an invaluable learning experience. “(I learned) if there‘s not a club willing to put a show on, you can just put your own show on in someone’s basement; and if you could do that with punk rock, you could easily do that with a string band,” Geil said.

    In more recent years, the Tillers have broken out of Cincinnati and now perform in cities and festivals across the region, including Indianapolis. In March, the band performed at the Hi-Fi, the trendy concert venue in the heart of Fountain Square. “There’s a beautiful house concert scene (in Indy) and we’ve played just about every house concert series over the years. We always have an amazing turnout and those are really fun, intimate shows.” 

    For more information on our Summer Under The Sails concert series click here.

  • Eiteljorg Insider | Event Planning Pointers with Kelsey Donson

    by Rachel Foley, marketing and communications intern | May 29, 2018

    Kelsey Donson

    Kelsey Donson

    Beyond its role as an institution of art, history and cultures, the Eiteljorg Museum building is a popular venue that couples rent for weddings and receptions and groups rent for catered events, such as corporate meetings. Planning and organizing these occasions so they run smoothly and clients have a great experience at the Eiteljorg has been the job of Kelsey Donson, the manager of catering, rental and events.

    In charge of booking all outside and internal events, scheduling, arranging contracts and taking payments – as well as marketing the museum as a venue – Kelsey started at the Eiteljorg in February 2016. She has served as liaison between clients and the Eiteljorg’s exclusive caterer: Kahn’s Catering.  Before she moves away from Indianapolis to start a new chapter, Kelsey shared some of her experience and insights about planning a special event at the Eiteljorg.

    For young couples planning weddings, there are a few major pitfalls that can increase tension throughout the planning and slow down the process of preparing for the big day, according to Kelsey. One of the most prevalent sources of conflict and misunderstanding is having too many people involved in the decision-making process, she said. Although input from parents can be helpful and necessary, Kelsey emphasized that the wedding is for the couple. She recommends that as many decisions as possible be handled by a single voice.

    “There have been time when I’m only working with the bride, or only working with the (wedding) planner – and that’s great. When you get the additional people coming in, that’s when it gets tricky,” Kelsey said.

    Another common issue in planning a wedding at any venue involves unmet expectations. Oftentimes, couples make assumptions about what is and what isn’t included in a rental package, Kelsey added. She advises couples to ask questions about exactly what is included in a package, and make judgments early about what the value truly is when selecting options. Various options are offered at different cost levels:  The Eiteljorg’s first tier package, for example,  includes tables and chairs for indoors as well as parking at the White River State Park garage, but does not include outdoor tables and chairs or audio/visual equipment.

     Venues of all kinds have rules and regulations that vary greatly. Although beautiful and full of character, the Eiteljorg building is a working museum. Since food and beverages could damage valuable pieces of art, the Eiteljorg has rules about keeping them in certain areas of the building and not in the galleries. Events at the Eiteljorg cannot have open flames and require a certificate of insurance; and some floral arrangements are restricted in the building, she noted.

    Kelsey’s most important tip is for couples to create and stick to a detailed budget for their wedding. “It mainly comes down to expenses,” she said. Couples who know exactly what they want and can afford typically are more successful in the event-planning process.

    In addition to wedding ceremonies and receptions, the Eiteljorg hosts corporate meetings and events throughout the year.  The Clowes Court multipurpose ballroom can seat a maximum of 260 for a formal dinner, and an hors d’oeuvres and cocktail party can host as many as 1,000 guests throughout the museum, she said.

    Combined with the gorgeous atmosphere and prime location just steps from the JW Marriot, the Eiteljorg Museum is a popular location among visiting corporate groups who want a different feel from a standard hotel event space. Compared to weddings, Kelsey said managing the corporate events is “both easy and hard.” Oftentimes a corporate event such as a company meeting, seminar or awards luncheon has been held several years in a row, so the client organizing it has an idea of what they want. Each venue is different and has its own set of limitations particular to the facility, vendors and caterers, she said.

    Events at the Eiteljorg remain an important part of the organization. Revenues from all museum external events go toward the building expenses, as do admissions and Museum Store revenues, she said. In addition, weddings and corporate events alike draw in crowds from all over the nation and serve as an opportunity to highlight the Eiteljorg Museum as a vibrant, ever-changing cultural institution in the heart of downtown Indianapolis.

    Kelsey has been a great addition to the Eiteljorg team. Asked about the most fulfilling part of the job, she cited the reaction of wedding couples to her completed wedding reception preparations in Clowes Court: “Seeing (two people’s) eyes light up as they see the finished ballroom is the best part.” She also endearingly cites several thank-you letters she has received from happy clients that she plans to keep forever.

    Kelsey Donson, right, and Lorna Speece, left

    Kelsey Donson, right, is succeeded by Lorna Speece, left, as manager of catering, rentals and events at the Eiteljorg. 

    With Kelsey moving on, the Eiteljorg announced that Lorna Speece will be the new manager of catering, rental and events. Lorna has been with the museum for three years, first in security and most recently as co-coordinator of Guest Services.

    We wish the best of luck to Kelsey Donson on all of her future endeavors. For more information on events at the Eiteljorg, please visit

  • Hello, Goodbye: Longtime employees will be missed, new employees welcomed

    by | | May 29, 2018

    The Eiteljorg Museum recently said goodbye to three dedicated employees who have moved on and welcomed some new colleagues:

    Jan Eason
    Jan Eason

    Jan Eason
    has been a beloved member of the Eiteljorg team for more than 26 years, almost as long as the museum has existed.  As education services coordinator, Jan worked in scheduling school field trips and adult tours and supported volunteer tour guides with training and schedules. She retired April 16.

    “Jan added much to the happiness of the museum,” Eiteljorg Vice President and Chief Curatorial Officer James Nottage said. “She has an uncanny ability to engage with people. She went out of her way to say hello, to ask how you were doing, and brought warmth and personality to her exchanges with staff, members, and guests alike.”

    Jaq Nigg
    Jaq Nigg

    Jaq Nigg in April wrapped up 17 years at the Eiteljorg as festivals and markets manager. With a background in film production, Jaq developed and refined the annual Indian Market and Festival into one of the top Native art markets in the nation. She also managed the museum’s Winter Market, Spring Market and WestFest events. Jaq cultivated close ties with Native artists and performers, and created a consortium of market planners across the nation that developed into a supportive professional network.  She moved on to a new position as production and operations manager at The Cabaret in Indianapolis.

    Succeeding Jaq is the new public events coordinator, Brandi Crocker. With a background in banking, Brandi previously worked in the Eiteljorg's Guest Services, first as co-coordinator and then as manager of that division. We welcome Brandi to her new role organizing the annual Indian Market and Festival and other Eiteljorg events.

    Kelsey Donson, right, and Lorna Speece, left
    Kelsey Donson, right, and Lorna Speece, left

    Another departure in May was Kelsey Donson, who has been manager of catering and rental events for the past 2 ½ years.  When couples booked weddings and receptions at the Eiteljorg, or when corporate event planners booked the museum space for company functions, Kelsey was in charge of ensuring all the details of their special day went exactly as planned. Kelsey and her family are relocating to another city, and Lorna Speece, who has been co-coordinator of Guest Services, has succeeded her as manager of catering and rental events.

    Jan Eason, Jaq Nigg and Kelsey Donson all will be missed by their Eiteljorg co-workers, and the museum wishes them the best.

    Allison Evans
    Allison Evans

    The Eiteljorg’s collections department maintains, cares for and organizes thousands of artworks and cultural objects, both those on exhibit and many more in storage. The department’s new director, Allison H. Evans, came to the Eiteljorg in January with 17 years of experience in the collections field, most recently at the Stark Museum in Orange, Texas. In her opening months at the Eiteljorg, Allison oversaw preparation of objects installed in The Reel West exhibition. Allison succeeds former collections director Amy McKune, who last year moved on to a museum in Missouri.

    Paul Jones
    Paul Jones

    Helping to keep the museum’s computer systems operating smoothly is Paul Jones, who joined the Eiteljorg in January as IT support assistant and AV technician.  Paul worked in computer systems for 29 years at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and previously served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

    Paul succeeds Tom L. Coble II, who was promoted to the position of Eiteljorg director of technology. Tom succeeded longtime director Dee McConville, who retired in December.

    Kristin Stout
    Kristin Stout

    The new librarian of the museum's Watanabe Family Library is Kristin Stout, who brings long experience in libraries and our content areas. With a bachelor's degree in history from Ball State University and a Master of Library Science degree from Indiana University, she worked for eight years as the reference and instruction librarian at Lane Library at Armstrong University in Savannah, Ga., and also at Herron Art Library and Lebanon Public Library.  Kristin succeeded former Eiteljorg librarian Dana Duffy, who moved on to a new position as education manager for the Monroe County History Center in Bloomington.

    Note: This article is a special online feature of Storyteller magazine.  This story included contributions from Eiteljorg marketing interns Samantha Roll, Brittan Semler and Rachel Foley.  Read more about the museum employees on the Eiteljorg blog:


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