Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Marketing Guitars| Why you see us EVERYWHERE

    by Bert Beiswanger, Eiteljorg marketing manager | Jul 22, 2013

    Guitars billboard
    Guitars! ads are on billboards all around Indianapolis.

    An extremely enjoyable facet of marketing a museum is that things are always changing. Sure, there’s a core plan that’s executed every year - a core audience we’re always communicating to. But ever-changing special exhibits present unique opportunities to promote the museum to new audiences. Guitars! Roundups to Rockers has certainly done that. Just as our holiday model train exhibit Jingle Rails has opened a door to a new way of marketing the museum, so has Guitars!

    Guitars! ad on Indygo buses.

    Guitars at Indiana black expo
    Guitars fans were very popular at the Indiana Black Expo. (Left) WISH-TV Sports Director Anthony Calhoun grabbed a few for himself and his mom. (Middle) Studio G Fitness Zumba dancers needed a few fans to cool off after their Expo performance. (Right) WTLC's Amos Brown lefte our booth with a "Guitars Are Hot" fan.

    If you’ve driven around the city, you’ve seen Guitars! everywhere. Our ads are all over interstate billboards and Indygo buses. And – if you attended this year’s Indiana Black Expo, you might have even grabbed one of our popular Guitars! fans from our booth.  Believe it or not, we've distributed  20,000 promotional fans and more than 35,000 brochures here, there and everywhere in between – from the Indianapolis Convention Center and downtown hotels to guitar shops across the Midwest and in Nashville, Tenn.

    guitars peter framptonMarketing this exhibit also involved partnering with entertainment company’s like Live Nation. We worked with our contacts there to develop a sweet deal for Peter Frampton fans. If you bought a VIP ticket to Frampton’s Guitar Circus, you could visit Guitars! free of charge. The fact that we developed some fun working relationships in the process with folks within the music industry – people with direct ties to these musicians – is pretty cool.

    People often ask what’s been the most fun part about working on this exhibit. That’s hard to say. What I can say is I never get tired of seeing people walk through the door with a Led Zeppelin or Nirvana tee shirt on. I never get tired of hearing people say, “I heard the Guitars spot on the radio,” “My husband saw the billboard on 465,” or “We saw the ad in the Indy Star.”

    And I never get tired of hearing people apologize for it being the first time they’ve visited the Eiteljorg. It all means that we’ve captured a new audience. People are noticing us and are invested emotionally in what we’re doing. Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about.

    guitars indy star
    Guitars! Indy Star ad.
    guitars bob and tom johanna james
    The Eiteljorg's James Nottage and Johanna Blume on the "Bob and Tom Show" as comedian Frank Caliendo looks on.

    It all starts with the product and what a product this Guitars! show is. But it’s also been a heck of a lot of fun and rewarding working with great people to help tell the story.

    Q95's Laura Steele at the Guitars! opening night party.
    Photo courtesy: TJF Photography.

    Folks at 92.3 WTTS, Hank FM, Q95 (particularly, good friend and Q95 voice of Guitars! Laura Steele), Nuvo, Indianapolis Star, Live Nation and countless others have been great partners on this tour. We certainly had solid subject matter to work with but everyone we worked with along the way made it much more rockin’.

    Bert and boys
    Taking a break from an early morning WTHR segment, the Beiswanger boys stand in front of a striking image of guitarist Gary Clark, Jr.

    This exhibit – which closes Aug. 4, has something for everyone! Whether you’re a diehard guitar enthusiast or an everyday casual music fan - we’ve seen them all walk through the door. Fans of country, classic rock, contemporary rock, jazz, swing and music and American history in general have all come to get a glimpse of guitars once played by Vince Gill, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Gene Autry, Kurt Cobain, Charlie Christian, Jimmie Hendrix and more.

    If you haven’t checked out Guitars! you’ve got just a few more days to do it. See what everyone is talking about before these 100 guitars go back to their loaners! 

    Go comment!

  • Eiteljorg Insider| 5 Questions with Summer Peters

    by Jaq Nigg, Eiteljorg festivals and markets manager | Jul 11, 2013

    We caught up with bead worker Summer Peters who won Best of Show at the Eiteljorg Indian Market with her beadwork portrait Gentleman Jim. A single mom and full time artist, she is a tribal member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe in Michigan, but lives in Phoenix, AZ. It was her first time coming to the Eiteljorg market and she blew everyone away with her creativity and talent.

    Summer Peters (Saginaw Chippewa), Gentleman Jim, Best of Show Winner at the 2013 Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival

    1. What inspires you?
    What inspires me is fashion, places I've been to, experiences I've had, nature, people watching, and a desire to learn more. It doesn't take much. I see beauty in almost everything. I love talking about art with other artists. I like watching things being built.

     2. If you could steal any piece of art in the world to have in your home, what would it be?
    I'd have to bypass the obvious choices of the Mona Lisa or some Picasso painting, it would definitely be, Spirit of the Forest by Odilon Redon. I learned about him in one of my art history courses.

     3. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
    I would most definitely be an ironworker in the NYC skyline or some sort of home builder/architect/interior designer. I have a strong academic background in the technical side of building things.

     4. What is your favorite tool? 
    My favorite tool is my needle nose plier. It makes everything perfect! I'm very very very much a perfectionist about my work, even though they say nothing in the world is perfect. If there's an extra bead on my string and I've already attached it to the canvas, I snap it off.

     5. What do you listen to while you work?
    I usually turn on the TV and find a show that I can listen to. I don't really listen to music while I work. Music has a strong attachment to memories in my life, good and bad, so I don't listen to it. I don't like sad feelings seeping into my work.  One time, though, I turned on classical music and I was beading like a mad woman! I need to do that again. 

     About Gentleman Jim:
    Gentleman Jim
    is beadwork portrait of Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox). The piece was created to bring attention to Native American people who have made great accomplishments in mainstream society.

    Go comment!

  • Plan your wedding, reception, meeting or party here at the Eiteljorg

    by Ariel Durell, Special events intern | Jul 08, 2013

    Couple married in the Eiteljorg Kincannon Learning Circle.

    Everybody starts somewhere.  For some people, there’s a clear moment of clarity when they “just know”.  Others experience a more gradual shift, but there’s always a beginning. My beginning has been at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art as an intern in the Rentals department. We work with organizations, brides, grooms and individuals who need help producing and catering exceptional events - like weddings, receptions, meetings and parties.  As an undergraduate business student, I hadn’t put much thought into the event and hospitality industry until recently – but I’m so glad I decided to pursue it!

    Being at the Eiteljorg for a couple months has not only deepened my appreciation of Native American art and cultures, but has also opened my eyes to a whole new world – the creativity, details, and magic that goes into making an event special for a client. 

    Creative centerpieces for a construction-themed dinner reception.

    A whimsical fairytale wedding reception.

    Uplighting helps to transform the ballroom.

    Everyone has their own individual dream for their big event, and it’s been so fun to see the Museum space transform from a nightclub into a fairytale, then morph from a construction-themed dinner into an Indy 500 reception, and back again into the elegant circular ballroom that I’m used to seeing. It’s been especially interesting to see how clients utilize the outdoor gardens.  Even though they have till the day of the event to move indoors if need be, we all keep our fingers crossed for clear skies on the big day! Some people choose to host their event entirely outdoors, while others split their time between the gardens and the ballroom. The outdoor space has been used for ceremonies, receptions and cocktail hours. We even had a couple ride into their outdoor reception off the canal on a bike! 

    I have really enjoyed all the different types of events that I’ve been able to participate in this summer, but there’s nothing quite like seeing a bride’s face when she first sees the Museum all decked out on her wedding day. Being able to be a part of creating such a special day for a couple, and helping to bring someone’s dreams, ideas and vision to life in a tangible and unforgettable way is amazing! And to think – this is only the beginning!
    If you'd like to have your next event at the Eiteljorg Museum, please contact: 317-275-1340 (Sarah Bean). You may also email us at: And, you can all find us on Facebook under "Eiteljorg Weddings" and on the Eiteljorg's website.

    Ariel Durell
    Special Events Intern


    1 Comment

  • Upping your art intake

    by Claire Quimby, Eiteljorg intern | Jul 02, 2013

    Climbing the stairs to the second floor at the Eiteljorg, you are likely to be drawn to the large steatite Buffalo Dancer sculpture by Doug Hyde before making your way to the main galleries. It’s easy to miss a very intriguing work located in this foyer. Tucked in the corner, like you used to see in the entry of every bar and restaurant, is a shiny cigarette vending machine.
    Did you do a double-take? Aren’t cigarette machines a thing of the past? And why would a museum be promoting tobacco consumption? This isn’t an ordinary cigarette vending machine – it’s an Art-o-Mat. The Art-o-Mat is a “fine arts vending machine,” refurbished and given a new purpose by artists Clark Whittington and Reed Maxwell. Whittington and Maxwell have reclaimed over 100 vintage machines and stocked them not with cigarettes, but small works of art for purchase.
    Clark Whittington unloading a machine to be refurbished.

    The machine itself is a beautiful piece of industrial design (check out a gallery of their machines here). What’s inside is equally cool. Spend $5, pull a knob, and the Art-o-Mat will deliver you a piece of mini art from one of ten featured artists – anything from prints and paintings to small ceramics, pendants, and even tiny quilts.

    A sampling of artworks for sale from the Art-o-Mat
    The inner workings of the Art-o-Mat

    It’s fun to pull the knob and claim your prize, but with the Art-o-Mat, you’re engaging in a different type of consumption from your typical vending machine purchase. Art feeds your brain and your soul. It’s good for you. And $5 in this vending machine isn’t just a monetary transaction. The Art-o-Mat helps disseminate the work of talented individuals. It also encourages people to appreciate something small but significant – a work that arose out of someone’s creativity and inspiration.artomat whittington
    Whittington helped found Artists in Cellophane, an organization dedicated to promoting art consumptions and making art more approachable.

    It’s amazing to see those kinds of benefits from an old cigarette vending machine. In fact, I think that’s the wonderful thing about the Art-o-Mat. Sometimes we think of art as being a thing you find within a museum or a gallery, something you see on a special outing, or something you have to go out of your way to experience. The Art-o-Mat is all about distributing art to the world through a mundane machine, making it commonplace and easier to enjoy. And we should enjoy art everyday – not just the days we spend in museums. If you can’t get to an Art-o-Mat (here’s a map of the 100+ machines nationwide), don’t worry. Here are a few ideas from our staff on other ways to get your daily dose of art:

     -          Scan the flyers and handbills posted at your favorite coffee shop. Local budding artists are always looking for new audiences.
     -          Step outside your usual routine and listen to a new genre of music.
     -          Stop to admire a public sculpture.
     -          Go the digital route and add a Daily Dose of Art to your Facebook newsfeed.
     -          Browse your favorite artist or medium online – many museums now offer access to their collections through their websites. (I like perusing the costume collection on the MET website.)
    -          Engage your inner artist and make something!

    Art is not something confined to a frame or inside a gallery. It is in everything and everywhere, but it is up to us and how we perceive beauty and novelty. – Paulina Constancia of


    Claire Quimby
    Eiteljorg intern

    Go comment!

  • Recapping the 2013 Eiteljorg Indian Market & Festival

    by By Jaq Nigg, festivals and markets manager | Jun 28, 2013

    Every June, the Eiteljorg brings gifted Native American artists and performers together with visitors for a celebration of Native American cultures. It’s a culmination of yearlong efforts as well as a “family reunion” for artists, museum staff and visitors. There’s always so much to see and do. Here are a few of the things I saw and did.

    Indian Market and Festival weekend started early Friday morning with artists arriving for judging and setting up in Military Park.

    Friday evening’s Preview Party is the official kick off of the weekend. Many of the artists were there and it was a wonderful and relaxed opportunity to spend time with them before the business of the weekend took over. The Best of Show Exhibit gave a chance to see all the prize winning artwork in one place, including Best of Show, Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award and the Helen Cox Kersting Award. Complete list of prize winners.

    Beadwork portrait, Gentleman Jim by Summer Peters (Saginaw Ojibwe Tribe of Michigan) won Best of Show. It was Summer’s first time at the Eiteljorg Indian Market!

    Potters, Pahponee (Kickapoo/Potawatomi) and Dominique Toya (Jemez Pueblo), admire the Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award winner, Love Gun, by Susan Folwell (Santa Clara Pueblo)

    Early Saturday morning, collectors and visitors lined up along the lovely canal path and West Street. Artists hurried to get to their booths and the sun warmed the day – but not too warm! A pleasant breeze and the shade trees kept things comfortable. As artists opened their booths and greeted each other, museum staff whizzed around on golf carts doing final tasks. Volunteers provided coffee, fruit, bagels and ice to the artists. The performers finished their sound checks. The food vendors started cooking and the media came for interviews. We were ready to open!


    Main admissions at 10am.

    I talked on camera to WTHR (NBC-Indianapolis) before Shelley Morningsong played her flute.

    The first stop for many visitors was the artist tents. Some artists sell out so it’s important to visit favorites early. Other popular destinations included the Dogbane Family Activity Area where kids of all ages created their own artwork to take home; the Delaware encampment and, of course, the performance tent.

    Rumors spread that artists seemed to be selling well: potter Jody Naranjo (Santa Clara Pueblo) only had two small pots left by Noon; Peter Boome (Upper Skagit) sold a bentwood box; sculptor Mark Fischer (Oneida) barely had anything left by the end of the weekend; jewelers Sharon and Richard Abeyta’s (Santo Domingo Pueblo) tables were always crowded; jeweler Jolene Bird (Santo Domingo Pueblo) charmed the Eiteljorg store folks with her sleek and funky inlay jewelry.

    Shoppers crowd the artist tents.

    Visitors discovered delicate jewelry, colorful kachina carvings, musical instruments, large sculptures and more. The food vendors kept busy throughout the day, selling Indian tacos, papusas, ice cream and, our favorites to cool down in the afternoon, lavender lemonade and Melmosas.

    The weekend was picture perfect – until about 3:30 pm on Sunday when ominous clouds in the West threatened and we made the tough decision to close the market early for the safety of visitors, artists, volunteers and staff.

    As artists packed up their artwork, they hugged lingering visitors goodbye; wishing them a great year until they return next June to see them again.

     If you missed this year’s Indian Market and Festival, make sure to mark your calendar for next year’s festival: June 21-22, 2014.

    Please share your own stories about the 2013 Indian Market and Festival. And, if you haven’t had a chance to fill out our visitor survey, please do.

    Festivals and markets manager, Jaq Nigg wants to say a big THANK YOU to all of the artists who come from so far and who are so wonderful; to all of the volunteers who work so hard and keep smiling; to all of our vendors who are the best at what they do and have my back when I forget something; and to the rest of the Eiteljorg staff who make being the Indian Market grand poobah the best job in the entire museum. A special tip of the cap to Erinn Wold and Lisa Watt who are crazy good at being my team.

    Go comment!
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