Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Hollywood Westerns and The Reel West: See them at the Eiteljorg

    by | | Oct 12, 2018

    Eiteljorg Museum exhibit_The Reel West_1
    Costumes and props from film and TV Westerns are on exhibit in The Reel West.

    We typically don’t feature main attractions for an entire year at the Eiteljorg Museum, but with a five-star exhibit such as The Reel West, the show had to go on longer than usual. But time is running out to see this fantastic exhibition, so make plans now to experience it when you see Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure.

    Are you a movie buff in general? Are you nostalgic for the classic era of Hollywood Westerns? Do you enjoy the aura of Hollywood and the stars who make the movies? For all those reasons and more, you should head to the Eiteljorg to see The Reel West before it’s too late.

    From the classic era to modern day, The Reel West explores the fascinating impacts our favorite Western movies and TV shows have had on shaping American identity and influencing American culture. Some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities and most popular Westerns are represented in The Reel West, which features costumes, props, interactives and more.

    Fans will 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 much more.

    Spanning multiple generations and a wide range of Westerns and actors, The Reel West is a true delight for movie fans of all ages.


    The Reel West
    Presented by:
    Oxford Financial Group, Ltd.
    Sponsored by:
    Capital Group
    Ice Miller
    The Sunrise Foundation
    Barnes & Thornburg LLP
    Indianapolis Colts
    Theater Experience Sponsored by:
    Frank N. and Patricia L. Owings

    Other Sponsorship Gifts:
    Boren Foundation
    E.D. Frenzel Family Charitable Lead Trust
    James and Sara Gutting

  • Beautiful Western art, interactives and compelling interpretation in new Western galleries

    by Bryan Corbin, Storyteller editor | Oct 11, 2018

    Grafton Tyler Brown_Castle Geyser
    Grafton Tyler Brown (American, 1841–1918)
    Castle Geyser, Yellowstone, 1891
    Oil on canvas
    Museum purchase through the generosity of Harrison Eiteljorg

    Big changes are unfolding in the Eiteljorg Museum's Western art galleries that will allow visitors to understand and appreciate the art in new ways.

    The two connected Western galleries on the museum’s ground floor — the Art of the American West Gallery and the Gund Gallery — were renovated over the summer. Iconic paintings and sculptures have been reinstalled alongside newly acquired works, and are supported by engaging hands-on interactives. On Nov. 10, the galleries will reopen to the public to showcase a new exhibition: Attitudes: The West in American Art.

    The reinstalled galleries will present fresh and engaging interpretations of Western art in a beautiful setting. The Attitudes exhibit places the Western art pieces into their historical and cultural contexts, and positions them within the broader framework of American art. It shows, for example, how Western art is not an isolated offshoot, but is instead deeply rooted within America’s larger artistic traditions and movements.

    “Not only are our new galleries addressing the question of what Western art is, they are more deeply exploring the art’s place in American culture,” Eiteljorg President and CEO John Vanausdall said. “If a visitor wonders why a particular painting or sculpture looks the way it does, or how the artist made it, or what that artist’s life was like, then our new galleries will convey those insights. The experience will make a visit to the Eiteljorg all the more rewarding and enriching.”

    Mian Situ_The Golden Mountain, Arriving San Francisco, 1865
    Mian Situ (American, born in China, 1953)
    The Golden Mountain, Arriving San Francisco, 1865, 2003
    Oil on canvas
    Museum purchase with funds provided by the Eiteljorg Museum’s Western Art Society

    What will you see? Some of the stunning artworks shown in the galleries in years past that are visitor favorites will return, including paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, Frederic Remington, Albert Bierstadt, Oscar Berninghaus and Charles Russell, and sculptures by Remington, George Carlson and Allan Houser. Through grants, many have been conserved and reframed, allowing us to show them as the artists intended. Some paintings of Native Americans are closely arranged together on a wall in salon style, as a part of interpreting their influence on perceptions of Indigenous peoples.

    Also included in the exhibit are some exciting recent acquisitions that underscore the diversity of artists in the West: Castle Geyser, Yellowstone, a dramatic landscape by a 19th century African-American painter, Grafton Tyler Brown; The Golden Mountain: Arriving San Francisco, 1865, a moving historical scene by contemporary Chinese-American painter Mian Situ; and The Twins, a pottery piece by Native American artist Susan Folwell (Santa Clara Pueblo). Folwell’s piece is a contemporary interpretation of a famous early 20th century portrait already in the Eiteljorg, The Twins by E. Martin Hennings, which is juxtaposed nearby so visitors can compare the two.

    E Martin Hennings_The Twins
    E. Martin Hennings (American, 1886–1956)
    The Twins, 1923
    Oil on canvas
    Gift: Courtesy of Harrison Eiteljorg

    Diversity of peoples who shaped the West is a theme explored through a high-tech interactive that interprets the 20th century mural painting The Americanization of California by Dean Cornwell. Using a touchscreen, visitors can bring up information about each of the dozens of diverse figures in the Cornwell mural and consider the myths revealed versus reality of life in the West. Works by European-American artists depicting Native Americans are intermingled with artworks by Native artists themselves, conveying their own perspectives.

    Enlivening the Attitudes exhibit is a mix of high- and low-tech interactives that will appeal to all ages. In the galleries’ studio space, visitors can learn and appreciate the elements of art, such as line, color, form and texture, through touchable displays and art activities suitable for families and children.

    Reinstallation of the Eiteljorg’s Western galleries was several years in the planning and months in execution. Overseeing the project and exhibition are James H. Nottage, who recently retired as vice president and chief curatorial officer and Gund curator of Western art, and Johanna M. Blume, associate curator of Western art, history and culture.

    Allowing visitors in to see the reinstalled galleries Saturday, Nov. 10, is such a milestone for the museum that it merits two evenings of special occasions: A reopening celebration and dinner honoring James Nottage is on Thursday, Nov. 8, and a members opening event is on Friday, Nov. 9. For reservations to either, contact or 317.275.1316.

    This project to reimagine and renovate the Western galleries on the first floor is a prelude to the reinstallation of the Eiteljorg’s Native American galleries on the second floor that will take place in 2021.

    Susan Folwell_The Twins
    Susan Folwell (Santa Clara Pueblo, born 1970)
    The Twins, 2017
    Clay, cork and paint
    Gift of Steve and Jane Marmon

    Opening Weekend Events
    NOV 8, 9, 10
    See the new exhibition beginning
    NOV 10

    Opening Weekend — New Western Art Galleries
    NOV 8
    5:30 p.m.
    Special reopening celebration honoring James Nottage’s retirement.*

    NOV 9
    6 p.m.
    Preview of reopened Western galleries for members.*

    *For reservations to either event, contact or call 317.275.1316.

    NOV 10
    1 p.m.
    Gund Lecture
    James Nottage photoAs a part of opening the museum’s newly reimagined first-floor Western art galleries, retired Eiteljorg Vice President and Chief Curatorial Officer James H. Nottage will deliver this year’s Gund Lecture. Nottage will introduce the exhibit and discuss how art related to the West has been viewed through time, and how art expresses the West. The Gund Lecture is included with regular admission, and museum members are free.

    NOV 10
    Bill Price musician2:30–4 p.m.
    Music performance: I Can’t Stop Looking at the Sky
    Join musicians Bill Price, Paul Holdman and Grover Parido for a multi-media performance inspired by Western skies and the history and landscapes of the West.


    Reimagined Western Art Galleries made possible by these generous friends:
    Pat and Bob Anker
    Leland E. Boren
    Mary Beth and Robert Braitman
    Steve Cagle
    Capital Group
    Angie and Dick Darlington
    L.G. and Alyce Edwards
    Ms. Catherine Turner
    Barbara and Brian West in memory of Edward A. West
    Donald Woodley
    Museum Entry Video Wall: Stan and Sandy Hurt
    Art Education Interactives: Jane and Steve Marmon



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




  • A Crossroads of Nations: Treaties explored at free event Nov. 5

    by | | Oct 11, 2018

    What happens when nations intersect? What is a treaty? A Crossroads of Nations explores historic and contemporary impacts of the St. Mary’s treaties of 1818 between Native nations of the Great Lakes and the U.S. government.

    The Indiana Historical Society is partnering with the Eiteljorg Museum to present the event at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, as part of the Spirit and Place Festival. A Crossroads of Nations is free and open to the public. Speakers include:

    • Dr. Andrew Olson, writer and historian

    • Dr. Scott Shoemaker (Miami of Oklahoma), the Thomas G. and Susan C. Hoback curator of Native American art, history and culture

    • Diane Hunter (Miami of Oklahoma), historic preservation officer of her tribe

    • Dr. John N. Low (Pokagon Band of Potawatomi), comparative studies professor, The Ohio State University

    • Dr. Brice Obermeyer, director of the Delaware Tribe Historic Preservation Office

    Speakers will discuss how the treaties impact Native peoples and their continuing relevance today. Register at

    Spirit & Place logo

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

  • Perspective: Every Second Monday in October and Why Not Indigenous Peoples Day?

    by Dorene Red Cloud, assistant curator of Native American art | Oct 08, 2018

    This week of October 8, 2018, will consist of many reminders about one of my least favorite historical figures, Christopher Columbus. For instance, today is Columbus Day observed. Then this Friday, October 12, 2018, it will be the actual 526th anniversary of Columbus arriving, lost, on the shores of the Bahamas. And I have already seen countless advertisements of Columbus Day sales for mattresses, department stores, and what have you, and I can tell you, I am not inspired to shop. And I like to shop!

    Every Columbus Day, observed and actual, I wear all black clothing for it is a day of mourning, in my opinion. Backed by Spain (although he was Italian), Columbus (born Cristoforo Colombo) was in search of a trade route to the Far East. When he arrived in the Caribbean, he believed he had “discovered” India, so he monikered the people (who had welcomed this stranger politely), “Indians.” Because these people were not Christianized, Columbus, during each trip to what is now called Central and South America, claimed the land and resources for Spain. 

    Speaking of resources, Columbus wanted the gold that he saw the people wearing so he began to demand it — and over a short period of time — more and more of it. He invented methods to punish the people who did not procure enough gold in ways I do not care to elaborate. But I can tell you this much, I never wear gold in memoriam of all of the Indigenous people who were tortured and killed for this gold lust.

    Until that time, gold had mainly been collected from the Ivory Coast of Africa. Due to Columbus’ new system of supply and demand, the “idea” of trading slaves from Africa to replace the decreasing gold supply (and thereby create a new market), occurred. Thus, the introduction of transatlantic slavery was born.

    Did you know that Columbus never landed on North American soil and that Columbus Day was not an official federal government holiday until 1937?  So why do we continue to honor Columbus whose influence introduced disease, rape, and massacre, or, the colonization of the Americas? 

    I want to pay homage to the cities in the U.S. whose citizens voted that they would rather observe a celebration honoring Indigenous Peoples Day and not Christopher Columbus. Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Berkeley, California, Phoenix, Arizona; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Asheville, North Carolina; and Ann Arbor, Michigan, are some of the cities that no longer observe Columbus Day. And, who, in my humble opinion, totally rock for taking a stand to say “No, we will no longer celebrate a harbinger of death and colonial figure!”

    For many reasons, it behooves us to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. Despite the millions of Indigenous peoples who perished as a result of contact with Europeans who travelled to all of the Americas after 1492, we Indigenous peoples are still here. In the U.S., we are 4 million-strong and growing. There are still several millions of Indigenous peoples in Central and South America too, despite history recording these peoples as Latin Americans. Most of you know and are friends with Indigenous peoples, and we have a lot to offer to not only this country, but to the entire world.

    So the true celebration is in our resiliency and survival, our strength and perseverance, and our sense of humor and personalities.  There are so many, many reasons to retire Columbus, ceremonially and officially. So please join me in greeting one another today (and on Friday, Oct. 12) with “Happy Indigenous Peoples Day!”

    Dorene Red Cloud (Oglala Lakota) wrote this opinion piece for the Eiteljorg blog.

  • Holiday Tradition: Jingle Rails chugs back into town for a ninth year

    by Haley Stevenson, marketing and communications summer intern | Oct 02, 2018

    Indianapolis’ most beloved holiday family attraction, Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure, returns to the Eiteljorg Museum on Nov. 17. In its ninth holiday season, Jingle Rails features new miniature scenes the electric trains will ramble through.

    Eiteljorg.Jingle Rails.1New at Jingle Rails this year: A sprawling roadmap of the historic U.S. Highway Route 66 has been scaled down to fit in the display. Created through a generous donation from the Kortepeter family, the Route 66 scene continues the tradition of adding a new landmark to the model train backdrops each year.

    Jingle Rails features model trains that chug through miniature replicas of the Indianapolis skyline and scenes of the West, decorated with holiday lights and trimming. Made of all-natural materials, such as tree bark, pine cones and acorns, the backdrops are created by the botanical architecture company Applied Imagination. Whimsical reproductions of Monument Circle, Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon and other landmarks bring families back to the Eiteljorg each year to experience the display.

    Route 66 signThe miniature Route 66 begins at the Chicago skyline with an iconic highway sign, and the road intersects at various points with the new rail line that travels through the scenery. The roadway weaves through the route’s familiar sights such as the St. Louis Gateway Arch, the Blue Swallow Motel, Sinclair Dinosaur filling station, Route 66 Diner and other roadside landmarks. The Painted Desert and Petrified Forest complete the look and feel of traveling on the famous highway — culminating in a colorful celebration at the Santa Monica Pier highway sign and a fully operating, illuminated Ferris wheel at the end of the journey.

    The Eiteljorg’s director of exhibition and graphic design, Steve Sipe, is very excited for what is in store at this year’s holiday display. “Each year the Eiteljorg tries to have a new backdrop scene or ‘pod’ in Jingle Rails,” Sipe noted. Similar to the Las Vegas diorama added a few years ago, “this grouping will be a vibrant representation of Route 66 in its prime with kitsch, fun, and family adventure.”

    Jingle Rails is expanding; thanks to an anonymous donor, the longtime favorite Indiana State Fair scene is moving out into the museum’s main hallway, Eagle Commons. Jingle Rails’ downtown Indianapolis skyline already features Monument Circle, Lucas Oil Stadium and the Eiteljorg building itself. This year, a new building model of Hilbert Circle Theatre, the home of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, joins the scene thanks to a donation from H. Jean Cline Jones Kyle in honor of her daughter, Deborah Cline Kish, volunteer services manager at the Eiteljorg.

    Applied Imagination installs the display, including backdrops, train tracks and trestles, in early November. While Jingle Rails is open, hard-working volunteers staff the display, answer visitors’ questions and maintain the G-gauge electric trains.

    Eiteljorg.Jingle.Rails.2Tens of thousands of guests experience Jingle Rails every year. National media have noticed its popularity as an annual holiday tradition: USA Today has named it a “10 Best” Indianapolis attraction and Fox News Travel has recognized it as one of the 12 “most incredible model railways.” And no wonder; the display can be a romantic wintertime date or fun for the whole family. Parents and grandparents bring children to see the model trains, sparking memories of past family trips to the West. The nearby museum café makes it easy to spend the day at the Eiteljorg and enjoy other exhibits the museum has to offer.

    Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure will be open Nov. 17 to Jan. 21 and is included in the price of museum admission. Children ages 4 and under are free.


    NOV 17–JAN 21

    The Indiana Rail Road

    Indianapolis Colts
    Katz, Sapper & Miller
    Butler Family Foundation
    L.G. and Alyce Edwards
    Faegre Baker Daniels LLP
    H. Jean Cline Jones Kyle
    The Kortepeter Family
    Stuart’s Moving and Storage, Inc.

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

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