Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Eiteljorg Insider | Brittan Semler, Marketing and Communications Intern

    by Brittan Semler, marketing & communications intern | May 21, 2018

    It feels like just yesterday I was standing in the parking garage entry tower, dressed in my only business outfit and carrying my new over-stocked portfolio, calling my mom for some last-minute support before my interview. It had been less than a month since life sneaked up on me and I began searching for internships, scrolling through page after page of online listings before I stumbled upon a marketing and communications internship at the Eiteljorg Museum. I loved the idea of working for a museum; history had always been a passion of mine, and I was intrigued by the thought of working for an organization that did more than just marketing -- they did everything. I applied that same day, interviewed and – surprise – was offered and quickly accepted the position.

    Brittan Semler

    My first day was overwhelming; I edited the Storyteller magazine right off the bat and was running around the museum trailing Hyacinth Rucker, the communications coordinator, scheduling interviews for blog posts and taking pictures for social media. I quickly caught on that this would not be an internship filled with coffee-runs and filing papers. Throughout the past four months, I have planned and executed social media campaigns, written original blog posts, edited news releases and Storyteller articles, pitched events to local media outlets and so much more. I attended many insightful programs (including one that landed me on the court at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse), prestigious fundraising events and exhibit premieres and was behind the scenes when television crews filmed segments in the museum. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to gain so much real-world experience in just four short months.

    Samantha Roll and Brittan Semler pose with Fox 59's Sherman Burdette and our Jamie Foxx and John Wayne cut outs to promote our special exhibit #EJTheReelWest

    As I was nervously waiting for my interview to begin, I wish I could have shown myself all I’ve since accomplished and how rewarding this internship has been. I work with great people and am blown away every day by their love and commitment to this institution, and compassion for each other. I’m so grateful the marketing department trusted me to learn through doing and included me in eye-opening discussions on nearly every project. They have been valuable mentors and I will carry their guidance and expertise with me through the rest of my career.

    Samantha Roll, Brittan Semler and Hyacinth Rucker at Cowpokes & Cocktails in April

    I couldn’t have asked for a better first professional internship. I learned the demands of every area of communications and marketing, and am better equipped to determine what I want my future to look like in this profession once I graduate from Butler University next spring. I will miss this chapter in my life, but I will never forget all it has taught me. No matter where I end up, I know I am better off because of my experiences at the Eiteljorg.

  • The Eiteljorg’s Fourth Annual Juneteenth Community Celebration

    by Samantha Roll, marketing and communications intern | May 17, 2018

    On Saturday, June 16, the Eiteljorg will celebrate Juneteenth (also called Freedom Day) with music, food and fun for the whole family. This annual celebration of freedom is held to commemorate the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas 153 years ago in June of 1865, at the end of the Civil War.

    For Alisa Nordholt-Dean, the public programs director at the Eiteljorg, the best part of the Juneteenth celebration is the community atmosphere. “Everybody’s excited, everybody’s having a good time,” she said. “There’s something for everyone – whether it be families who are drawn in by the hands-on activities and musical performances or those more interested in the scholarly information provided. It’s just a lot of fun.”

    The celebration kicks off at 11 a.m., with an explanation of the holiday and reading of the Emancipation Proclamation and General Orders by an Abraham Lincoln reenactor. Following the opening remarks, music, activities and fun will begin inside and outside the museum.


    Near the canal, the stage under The Sails will feature musical performances for the duration of the celebration. Tamara Winfrey Harris, author of The Sisters are Alright and a former Eiteljorg vice president of communications and marketing, will emcee as various musicians take the stage. Among the performers will be The Griot Drum Ensemble and Freetown Village Singers, both crowd favorites.

    New to the stage this year is Premium Blend, a local jazz group featuring saxophonist Jared Thompson, guitarist Ryan Taylor, drummer Brian Yarde and keyboardist Steven Jones. Known for their high energy and unique adaptations of jazz standards, the band is on the forefront of modern jazz in Indianapolis. 

    “I’m really excited about Premium Blend. We try to switch things up each year, and they’re an awesome addition,” Alisa said. 

    Something new is happening inside the museum as well. To coincide with The Reel West exhibition, Juneteenth is introducing the Harlem Goes West Film Series to its programming. The set of three Westerns features the contributions of African-Americans to the genre. The films will be shown inside Clowes Court beginning at 10:20 a.m. June 16 with The Bronze Buckaroo (1939, NR, 56 minutes), followed by Sergeant Rutledge (1960, NR, 111 minutes), and concluding around 3:45 p.m. with Buck and the Preacher (1972, PG, 102 minutes).

    While performers take the outside stage and Westerns are playing indoors, other Juneteenth programming events are ongoing throughout the day. Outside in the Kincannon Learning Circle will be hands-on activities and a gold panning station for guests to test their luck. Near The Sails, a chuck wagon, or Western “field kitchen,” will be cooking samples of authentic cowboy food. The Indianapolis Black Cowboys Association will be close by with a horse that guests can pet and feed. 


    Inside, a tour of The Reel West Gallery will be held highlighting the roles of African-American actors in the Western film genre. At 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the Art of the West Gallery, actor-interpreter Joanna Winston will perform in character as noteworthy African-Americans Western entertainers such as Jim Beckwourth, Mary Fields and Nat Love. Eagle Commons will be the venue for various community groups and a Community Wall with a prompt “What Does Freedom Mean to You?” where everyone is welcome to share comments.


    Museum admission is free for the celebration along with free parking in the White River State Park underground garage while available, giving everyone access to Juneteenth programming and the museum exhibitions. We hope you will join us in our celebration of freedom. 

  • Summer Under The Sails Returns for the Summer of 2018

    by Samantha Roll, marketing and communications intern | May 09, 2018

    The Sails,  located behind the Eiteljorg Museum along the canal.
    Photograph courtesy of Zach Malmgren.

    Back for a fourth year, the Eiteljorg’ s Summer Under The Sails concert series promises another entertaining season, with bands from a variety of genres hitting the stage each Wednesday evening in June and July from 6 – 8 p.m., and on Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  From Americana, to rock and roll, Latin jazz and blues, you are sure to find something you enjoy at this free concert series.

    “My favorite part of the Summer Under The Sails Concert Series is that the concerts attract a different group of people. It’s not necessarily our everyday visitors that come to the museum – it’s a new group of people who are enjoying everything the Eiteljorg has to offer,” said Sandy Schmidt, public programs coordinator.

    The series debuts on June 6 with The Tillers, an Americana, old-time and bluegrass string band. This is The Tillers’ first time under The Sails, and with a newly released album, they are sure to entertain.

    On June 13th, Tim Brickley & The List will perform hits from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Brickley is an Indianapolis native, whom The Indianapolis Star has called a musical “local legend.” He will be joined on stage by Larry DeMyer, Matt Price, and Tom Waldo to play covers of songs from their list of more than 200 rock hits.

    Emily Ann Thompson

    For her third appearance in the Eiteljorg’s concert series, Emily Ann Thompson brings with her a four-piece jazz ensemble on June 20. In previous years, Thompson has performed Celtic violin and dance under The Sails. This year however, she will be playing both jazz and gypsy jazz violin pieces for the audience.

    Soundz of Santana

    Soundz of Santana has been the crowd favorite since the beginning of the series. As a tribute band to the music of Carlos Santana, the group will be playing Santana’s hits in their truest form. More than 1,500 attendees gathering under The Sails last summer to hear Soundz of Santana, and  you won’t want to miss their performance this year on June 27.

    The first Wednesday in July welcomes Heartstone Crossing, an Indianapolis-based cover band. The six-person ensemble plays a wide range of songs – from Bob Marley to Ed Sheeran.

    Another act making its first appearance under The Sails is My Yellow Rickshaw, who perform on July 11. The band plays an eclectic collection of covers, from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Usher, the Zac Brown Band to Miley Cyrus, even rap and an Irish jig or two.

    July 18 brings with it some Latin flair, with a performance by Pavel & Direct Contact. The trio is known as one of the most entertaining Latin jazz groups in the Midwest, praised for their high energy and upbeat music.

    July 25 is Tad Robinson’s second appearance under The Sails. Robinson has been nominated for eight Blues Music Awards since 2005, and is known for his smooth vocals and soulful delivery.

    A special edition Summer Under the Sails concert takes place Aug. 1, right before the start of Gen Con 2018. Il Troubadore returns to play world music and sci-fi music to set the mood for the convention. The band plays music from more than 60 countries and in 4 dozen languages, but most importantly for sci-fi movie fans, it has featured a Wookiee cellist and Klingon vocalists in previous appearances under The Sails. You will have to see this to believe it.

    Summer Under The Sails - il Troubadore and the Wookiee Cellist

    Il Troubadore

    Attendees are encouraged to grab a light snack from the museum café's late-afternoon nibble menu and take it to go and enjoy the free live music under The Sails on Wednesday evenings. A cash bar will also be available under The Sails. The museum is open until 8 p.m. on concert nights, with free admission into the building starting at 5 p.m. for guests to come and go during performances. Well-behaved dogs on 6-foot non-retractable leashes are also welcome.

    Wednesday night’s aren’t the only time music can be heard from under The Sails. As part of the Summer Under The Sails Concert Series is the Eiteljorg’s Lunchtime Music on the Canal, a relaxing way to spend your Thursday lunch breaks. Starting at 11:30 a.m. and ending at 1:30 p.m. on Thursdays in June and July, the lunchtime music series features a rotating schedule of three artists.

    Doug Resendez, known for his popular covers, starts the rotation on June 7. Following him is the John Gilmore Duo, performing Americana music. The Josh Silbert Jazz Combo rounds out the group with their smooth coffeehouse-style jazz.

    This summer, there won’t be a better way to get through that mid-week slump than to stop by the Eiteljorg on Wednesday nights and Thursday afternoons to enjoy the summer breeze and free live music.

  • Jan Eason’s warmth brightens the museum

    by Samantha Roll, marketing and communications intern | May 02, 2018

    Jan Eason with her son, Douglas Eason, at her retirement party

    After 26 years of delighting Eiteljorg visitors and employees alike with her warmth and humor, Jan Eason has retired from her position at the museum. Her impact, though, will be felt for many years to come.

    “She brought so much to the museum and to her position. Jan helped build a great education program and her work with the guides, educators and school children played a huge part in what the Eiteljorg has accomplished. Jan has had an impact on, and has touched the lives of so many people over the years,” said Martha Hill, vice president for public programs and Beeler family director of education.

    If you’ve ever visited the Eiteljorg on a school field trip or group tour or talked to a museum guide about the exhibits, Jan is one of the people who made your visit enjoyable and worthwhile.

    “Jan added much to the happiness of the museum,” said Eiteljorg vice president and chief curatorial officer James Nottage. “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.”

    After working in healthcare administration in Illinois, Colorado and Missouri, Jan joined the Eiteljorg Museum as an education assistant in 1992, only a few years after the museum opened. Her job title later became education services coordinator. The bulk of Jan’s job duties included scheduling education and adult tours, supporting the museum’s volunteer guides with training and scheduling, and supporting the public programs department.

    Jan with fellow Education Services Coordinator Eric Hinkle

    “Jan had a clear commitment to the educational mission of the museum,” said Gayle Cox, a former Eiteljorg board member and current guide. “She viewed this mission as an important contribution to the broader community, and had a clear concern for reaching out to under-served populations so they might share in the offerings of the museum.”

    What co-workers remember is Jan’s knack for storytelling, with dramatic emphasis and playful delivery.  At her retirement party April 16, Jan had a roomful of colleagues in stitches, reliving an Indian Market anecdote about her hopping a ride from the market to a nearby parking garage. When a co-worker showed up on his motorcycle to pick her up, Jan gamely climbed on board in her big wide-brimmed sun hat, waving her cane – only to find their motorcycle caper lasted longer than expected due to downtown street closures and detours.

    Jan and Eiteljorg President and CEO John Vanausdall

    “She has the ability to tell stories to groups – both adults and kids – that are completely engaging and fun,” said Jaq Nigg, former manager of festivals and markets.

    Jan’s efforts, and her good humor, have been necessary to the important work of bringing school and adult groups to and through the building for guided tours and ensuring guides are well-prepared to answer visitors’ questions about Native American and Western art, history and culture.

    “The most impressive things that Jan did for us all was simply by Jan being ‘Jan.’ By that I mean she is a person that is warm, caring, and someone who simply gives her all,” Gayle Cox said.

    Above all, Jan will be remembered through the friendships she forged with those she worked with. “Jan has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met. Seeing her was always the bright spot of my day,” Jaq Nigg said.

    “Jan was one of my first friends thanks to the Eiteljorg when we moved to Indy,” said Lou Stanley, former Eiteljorg guide. “Her friendly voice and willingness to work with your schedule were wonderful. We are all thankful for Jan’s many years of service to the Eiteljorg.”

    Jan Eason will truly be missed not only by Eiteljorg Museum staffers, but by the museum’s dedicated guides and so many people that she worked with over the years.

    We wish her a happy and restful retirement.

  • Festivals and markets manager reflects on goodbyes and new beginnings

    by Brittan Semler, marketing & communications intern | Apr 30, 2018

    Jaq Nigg, the Eiteljorg’s festival and markets manager, is moving on to a new chapter in life after nearly 17 years of dedicated service to the museum. Jaq has been instrumental in organizing s the museum’s largest annual event, the Indian Market and Festival, WestFest, and smaller arts markets -- Winter and Spring Market.

    Jaq and her husband Josh at her farewell party

    Jaq not only coordinates technical details, but she has built personal relationships with the artists who make festivals possible, serving as the Eiteljorg’s unofficial ambassador to the artist community. “The artists are like family to me,” Jaq said, recalling a relationship with a family of artists she has grown to know and care for through her years in the business. “I’ve known this girl here . . .  she and her two sisters have been coming here since they were born,” Jaq said, pointing to a picture of the daughter of an Indian Market artist posted on the wall by her desk. “She was one (year-old) at my first market, and now that she’s 18, she applied this year to come and sell her own artwork.  And I played with them when they were just babies.”

    Jaq also recalled an artist who became a close friend. She met him at an art show where he had been selling flutes, and during their first conversation, she invited him to the Eiteljorg’s next Indian Market. She didn’t know at the time that he had been struggling to decide between remaining with his stable day job or taking a leap of faith to pursue art full-time. “He said the way that I had approached him and said, ‘You need to come to my show,’ helped him make that decision (to become a full-time artist). He said, ‘You were part of this defining moment, without even knowing it.’ And that’s meaningful to me,” Jaq said.

    Jaq and Martha Hill

    Passionate about her work, Jaq finds fulfilment in her career through the people she interacts with and the lives she touches.  “We’re not saving lives, but hopefully we’re improving them.” Her job has not been an easy one – at Indian Market she has dealt with flooding issues, last-minute logistical changes and even accidentally broke a $600 turquoise necklace she had borrowed for her first television interview. Jaq had to laugh off those snags. “Despite everything that could go wrong, just have a good outlook.  It’s fun, this should all be fun,” she said.

    Jaq has moved on to a new job at The Cabaret in downtown Indianapolis, where she will bring her expertise to her new position as production and operations manager. As for her successor, Jaq says, “I’m super excited for Indian Market just because a breath of fresh energy will be really great for it – even just a different perspective. As much as I try to make changes, I think there are definitely things where you think, ‘Well, this is the way it needs to be.’ So I think it’s neat to have the idea of someone else coming in with their own ideas and bringing in more to Market.”

    Sandy Schmidt, Alisa Nordholt-Dean, Jaq, Kelsey Donson and Brandi Crocker

    One thing Jaq will miss most about the Eiteljorg is “being able to take a break from work and walk through the galleries. And of course I’ll miss the team and the artists. I always loved working as a team and always could count on challenges that could test my skills.” Reflecting on her time at the Eiteljorg while approaching her final day, Jaq said, “I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity to have been here so long and still feel excited about the work. . . It’s also how the museum supports the projects. Our team is very small, but we do a lot of amazing things.”

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