Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Strings, Humming & Strumming - A mom's experience at the Eiteljorg GUITARS! show

    by Guest blogger Carrie Kirk of | May 09, 2013

    Mommy blogger, Carrie Kirk, blogs about her personal experience with the Eiteljorg Guitars! Roundups to Rockers exhibit.

    I have always had a passion for guitars. Maybe it's because I can't play any string instrument of any kind. Maybe it's just that I enjoy listening to most music. And now that I am a parent, I think it's because I would really, really (really) like for my kids to have a love for music and maybe even play an instrument themselves.


      The Eiteljorg Museum recently opened its Guitars! exhibit and experience--a perfect opportunity to introduce my kids to the instrument. The most exciting aspect of this show is that it exposes its audience to an amazing array of music. After you purchase your ticket to the museum, you simply leave proof of identification and pick up your Ipod that plays close to seventy selections of music, ranging from obscure musicians to those who are icons in the music industry.

      Since its opening on March 4, I have visited the exhibit twice. Once I drove to the museum sans kids, with latte in my car's cup-holder, listening to The Punch Brothers. That in itself was a great start to my visit. When I entered the gallery, I walked - no, sauntered - through the exhibit, lapping up the music that coincided with the guitars on display and the artists' descriptions and photos. It was late on a Friday afternoon so the museum had fewer visitors to contend with, enabling me to take any route I wanted. If I wanted to move directly from Alvino Rey to George Harrison, I could...and I did. Many of the guitars on display were works of art and hailed from some of the greats - Buddy Holly, Chris Funk of The Decemberists, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, and even Jimi Hendrix(Cherokee heritage, BTW). I left the museum charged and anxious to retrieve much of the music I heard on my Spotify account.


      My second visit was an altogether different experience. This car trip included three boys - my youngest and his - well, let's just say - "enthusiastic and eager" friend and one of our mature and kind teenage neighbors who confessed that he really wasn't much of a music fan. (Folks, he brought a book to read to-and-from.) No latte in the cup-holder this time, and I had to turn off the music because I couldn't hear over the din of the "enthusiastic and eager" young boys in the backseat. This time my visit was centered around the kids' experience and encountering the exhibit with them.

      Our teenage friend took off with the iPod and quietly traveled through the exhibit. When I peaked in to check on him, I was impressed by so many groups of people (family and friends) experiencing the exhibit together while having an individual experience with the music. Meanwhile the young boys had a heyday with the interactive Guitar Hero in the main hallway. After going through the tutorial, they jammed on the guitars for a good fifteen minutes. Who knows who the winner was since they both believed they each were and argued about it for the next fifteen minutes. Next to Guitar Hero were two large pieces of paper, asking visitors to pen who their actual guitar hero was. Our little friend wrote "Justen Beiber" (sic) and after George determined that Michael Jackson had not played guitar, he scribbled "" (We have to listen to the Beatles more.)

      In the gallery, they took turns playing on two guitars, one acoustic and the other electric (It was hooked up to headphones. Good thinking, Eiteljorg.) There were also rock star duds they could try on for the full-effect. They got excited about some of the guitars on display too, especially the unusual ones with various shapes. With our teenage friend anxious to get back to his book, we dragged the boys out, promising to return before the exhibit closes. (Plenty of time since the exhibit runs through August 4.) I am a firm believer in leaving anything while the kids are still happy and wanting more. When they become completely over it, it truly is all over for everyone.


      Will my kids be the next George Benson? Probably not. But hopefully with experiences like the one we had at the Eiteljorg, they will come to appreciate the likes of George Benson and when asked ten years from now who their guitar hero is, they may answer Stephen Stills, Carrie Brownstein or Keith Richards - and spell it correctly too.

      Carrie Kirk

      Carrie Kirk's post was originally posted on - a weekly online publication focused on the arts in central Indiana...and beyond. Each week's issue features original content from a network of professional and student story tellers, including WFYI, Butler University, Franklin College, IUPUI and University of Indianapolis. Thank you Carrie for visiting our amazing exhibit!

      Go comment!

    • Images of the Indian: New installations in the Gund Gallery of Western Art

      by James Nottage, vice president and chief curatorial officer | May 07, 2013

      Eiteljorg vice president and chief curatorial officer, James Nottage, blogs about the new installations in the Gund Gallery of Western Art.
      Joseph Brant When the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York, asked about borrowing the Eiteljorg’s painting of The Burial of Uncas by N. C. Wyeth, we were happy to oblige.  The Fenimore is an important museum and they were producing a major exhibit on art of the extended Wyeth family.  Happily, several members of our staff went to graduate school in Cooperstown and had deep familiarity with collections of the Fenimore Art Museum.  One of their great paintings is by the artist best known for his portraits of George Washington.  We asked, while our Wyeth was in New York, if the Fenimore would consider loaning us their Gilbert Stuart portrait of an Iroquois Indian. Gilbert Stuart (American, 1755-1828) was one of the most famed portrait painters of his time.  In 1786 he visited England and was commissioned to paint a portrait of Joseph Brant (1742-1807). Brant was in England at the time.  He had led the Iroquois against Americans in the Revolutionary War, supporting the British. This portrait is considered to be one of the finest depictions of a Native American done in the 18th century.  It clearly reflects the British sense of the Indian as the “noble red man.” The statesman-like pose shows Brant wearing a feathered headdress and he is wrapped in a blanket with a silver decorated shirt.  Time is limited to view this important painting. The Eiteljorg will feature this work, from the collection of the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Stephen C. Clark, from May 2 through September of this year. 

      In placing the Joseph Brant portrait on exhibit, we have taken the opportunity to more deeply explore the manner in which Native Americans have been portrayed by artists through the 1800s.  Visitors will see familiar portraits from our permanent collection by Charles Bird King, E. A. Burbank, and others.  We have also placed three other works in this section of the Gund Gallery that have not been shown.  The first is a new acquisition purchased with funds provided by the George Gund Foundation.  It is titled The Surprise, and was painted by American artist Louis Maurer in 1858.  Maurer had not traveled west or experienced Indian life in person.  In the 1850s, along with English painter A. F. Tait, he visited a library in New York to study books with Indian paintings by Carl Bodmer and George Catlin, who had traveled to the West in the 1830s.  Tait and Maurer created many paintings that were made into popular prints published by the firm of Currier and Ives.  These often violent images depicted Plains warriors as savages in mortal combat with frontiersmen.  Even though they were fictional, the prints created a fearful stereotype in the minds of pioneers headed west.  The Surprise was published by Currier and Ives in 1858. 

      Theodore Baur (American, born in Germany, 1835-1894)

      Two bronzes donated by Harrison Eiteljorg and newly conserved by a special intern, are being shown for the first time in many years.  Theodore Baur (American, born in Germany, 1835-1894), created Chief Crazy Horse, in 1885.  This heroic bust represents an important Lakota warrior known for fighting against U.S. forces at important battles including the Little Big Horn in 1876. Crazy Horse was killed by a soldier while trying to escape from imprisonment in 1877. Theodore Bauer originally conceived of this bronze as a portrait of Sitting Bull. When completed, it became an iconic representation of a sympathetically portrayed, but defeated Crazy Horse. 

      Adolph A. Weinman (American, born Germany, 1870-1952)

      Finally, we are pleased to present the Adolph A. Weinman (American, born Germany, 1870-1952), bronze of Chief Blackbird, cast in 1907.  Weinman’s depictions of the Indian are sympathetic and romanticized.  This bust portrait gives us the stereotype of the warrior-chief wearing an eagle feather headdress.  In the summer of 1902, the artist went to Coney Island and later to Madison Square Garden in New York to create images of Sioux members of Colonel Cummins’ Wild West Indian Congress.  Among them, Chief Blackbird and his wife were favorite subjects. The decorative bust of Blackbird is expressive of the artist’s observation that the subject was “a stoic, if ever there was one.”

      James Nottage
      Eiteljorg vice president and chief curatorial officer 

      Go comment!

    • Mother's Day Gifts from the Eiteljorg Museum Store

      by Robert Tate and May Ann Clifford, Eiteljorg Museum Store | May 03, 2013

      From pocket change to budget buster, our top picks for Mom from the Eiteljorg


                                                                          Eiteljorg Museum Store

      Even if you weren’t the perfect child, it was Mommy who kissed the booboos and scared away the monsters under the bed. Tell her “Thank You” with gifts from the Eiteljorg.

      For the Mom who loves to write, we have a wide selection of beautiful and unique note cards.  Two of our favorites are the “Inuit designs” embossed note cards and the Georgia O’Keefe floral note cards.

      Inuit Designs embossed by Cape Dorset
      Members  $12.75, Retail $15.00
      Georgia O’Keeffe flowers by Pomegranate
      Members $13.56, Retail $15.95
      Kenojuak Ashevak, birds of Cape Dorset by Pomegranate
      Members $13.56, Retail $15.95
      Paintings of the Southwest, Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM
      Members $12.71, Retail $14.95

      For the Mommy who loves to picnic outdoors on a beautiful warm evening or carpet picnic at home when it is storming outside, we have the Pendleton picnic blanket.  It is perfect for sitting on the damp grass at outdoor concerts with the rugged Pendleton wool top and nylon back.   Don’t forget a box of Eiteljorg Salted Caramels and a bag of white cheddar popcorn for your evening treats.

      Pendleton Woolen Roll-Up Blanket, 100% Wool Top, 100% Nylon Back
       Members $100.30, Retail $118.00
      Eiteljorg Sea Salt Caramels by South Bend Chocolate
       Members $11.05, Retail $13.00
      White Cheddar Popcorn by Lakota
      Members $2.51, Retail $2.95

      More than likely it was Mama who taught you the “ABCs” and then how to read.  Tell her thank you for the gift of reading with one of our many books ranging from Native American history to living in the Southwest.  We also have small throw pillows that make reading a cozy leisure activity.

      Indian Voices, Listening to Native Americans by Alison Owings
      Members $22.91, Retail $26.95
      The New Adobe Home by Byrne and Larson, Photography by Haskell
      Members $29.75, Retail $35.00
      Painting the Wild Frontier, The Art and Adventures of George Catlin by Reich Members $17.85, Retail $21.00
      Zapotec Large Throw Pillow
      Members $102.00,Retail $120.00
      Zapotec “Peanut” Mini-Throw Pillow
      Members $25.46, Retail $29.95

      Our ultimate Mother’s Day present is this beautiful necklace and bracelet set. The hardest part with this present is who deserves it more -- the wife of your beautiful family or your mother because she never told dad about “that incident” at college.

      Vintage Turquoise and Natural Coral with Silver Necklace and Bracelet set
       by Johnny McCray, Navajo 
       Members $1,955, Retail $2300.00

      Whether she’s Mother, Mom, Mommy or Mama, May 12 is her day! The Eiteljorg Museum Store has a wide selection of perfect gifts. We’re open every day! So be sure to stop in!

      Robert Tate and Mary Ann Clifford
      Eiteljorg Museum Store

      Go comment!

    • Hoop Dancing Champion Heads to Eiteljorg Indian Market & Festival

      by Jaq Nigg, Eiteljorg festivals and markets manager | May 01, 2013

      As the Eiteljorg’s festival and markets manager, each year I plan what I hope will be an exciting entertainment schedule for Indian Market and Festival. My goal is to fill the stage with mesmerizing, educational, straight-up fun performances. This year will not disappoint! We’re excited to bring five-time world champion hoop dancer Tony Duncan (Apache/Arikara/Hidatsa) to make his Indian Market debut June 22 and 23!

      Duncan told Indian Country newspaper, he believes people should “Dream big. Whatever it is you love to do, do that. Practice, practice, practice!”

      So, you might be wondering, what is hoop dancing?
      In hoop dancing, dancers use colorful hoops and their bodies to tell stories, creating shapes with the hoops – for example, animals, flowers and eagles. But trying to describe it with words doesn’t work. You have to see it to really appreciate the artistry and athleticism that go into being a hoop dancer.

      Click for video

      Tony embodies the idea of tradition playing an important role in contemporary life. Traditional hoop dance was ceremonial and has evolved into a storytelling art. After winning his fifth world championship, Tony was approached by Canadian recording artist Nelly Furtado about performing in the video for “Big Hoops (Bigger the Better). He jumped at the chance to combine traditional dance with contemporary dance music. He loved the experience and joined Nelly on a world tour and on mainstream stages like the Billboard Music Awards and The Tonight Show.

      Click for video

      For Tony, hoop dancing is special. Here's what he told Indian Country about what hoop dancing has meant to him:  “It's very inviting—a hoop is laying there and you just want to pick it up and start spinning it and jump through it. My father taught me when I was 5 years old, and since then I've just loved dancing. The hoop teaches us many things, primarily, having respect for all of life and life’s creations. It teaches us about the different cycles of life, the changing seasons upon Mother Earth, as well as the seasons of our own lives. All of life dances in a circle and we’re all connected. It’s a very exciting yet spiritual dance, there's nothing else like it.”

      Please visit Power 2 Give to find out how you can help bring Tony Duncan and his dance group to Indian Market and Festival.

      Over the years, the Indian Market & Festival stage has been graced by a diverse mix of traditional and contemporary representations of Native cultures: flutes, drums, electric guitars and didgeridoos; stories about raven, coyote and other animal teachers; stories about cell phones, airplanes and modern life; songs in English, Lakota, Navajo, Tsimshian and Inuit; traditional dancers with superman tattoos; and contemporary singers wearing regalia. This mixture of past and present is evidence of vibrant Native cultures and part of what makes Indian Market such a great event. 

      We hope to see you June 22 and 23! Be sure to catch Tony Duncan's performance. And, if you've ever seen hoop dancing, tell us about your experience in our comments section!

      Jaq Nigg
      Eiteljorg festivals and markets manager 



    • The Guitars! iPod Touch Experience

      by Dolly Hayde, Eiteljorg Visitor Experience Fellow | Apr 29, 2013

      Here at the Eiteljorg, we care deeply about “Telling Amazing Stories,” but like anybody, we learn a lot of what we know through listening to you. As an Eiteljorg Visitor Experience Fellow, I get to read comment cards given to us by our visitors. My role is to analyze feedback from specific exhibits and programs.

      Right now, I’m working on analyzing the Guitars! Roundups to Rockers iPod experience! When our visitors tour Guitars! they have the opportunity to listen to nearly three hours of extra guitars content, like guitar technique demonstrations and historic recordings on iPod Touch devices.  I give visitors a map of the exhibit and ask them to draw their paths. Next, I have them talk a little about how using a playlist shaped their time in the gallery. I also ask them which tracks they enjoyed most, and why.  I have never had more fun with an interview question. Here’s a look at the many names that come up:

      The thing about music is that it acts as a direct line to emotions and memories - the territory of most really good stories. By talking to visitors during this evaluation, I’ve learned that it’s not just “Purple Haze;” for some, it’s a rich memory of what it was like to be at Woodstock.  As someone who doesn’t play guitar, I’ve been painstakingly given a whole new appreciation for the inspirational qualities of “Eruption.” I have had the peculiar joy of watching a 12-year-old guitarist’s face light up when talking about playing “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” 

      As you might expect, most people tell me about their favorite songs and artists. I really like hearing visitors talk about what they know and love, but the most exciting stories are the ones about discovery. Musicians in awe of hearing a harp guitar for the first time and fans intrigued by the sounds of new Western heroes remind me of the power listening has to explain, confirm, and inspire.

      You might wonder what we do with your feedback. Here’s the short answer: Our staff members collect and organize them, then pass individual answers on to particular departments as needed. Your input can explain issues, confirm needs, and inspire new offerings. Simply put, it helps us understand how to improve our own storytelling.

      So, which track from the iPod playlist did you like best, and why? Leave a comment here or, better yet, come tell us in person. We look forward to hearing your stories.

      Dolly Hayde
      Eiteljorg Visitor Experience Fellow

      Go comment!
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