Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • The Reel West looks at how Westerns shape identity

    by Eiteljorg staff | Nov 21, 2017


    On March 3, 2018, the Eiteljorg opens an exciting new special exhibition: The Reel West. This collection of objects, images and hands-on interactives explores how Western movies and TV shows shape perceptions of the American West.

    Whether you’re a fan of classic Hollywood Westerns such as The Searchers and Bonanza, or contemporary takes on the genre like Django Unchained and the reboot of Westworld, there’s something for everyone. The Reel West examines how Westerns tell morality tales, represent diversity and build myths that shape American identity.

    Fun and interesting for all ages, the yearlong exhibition includes film screenings, curator talks and more. Interested in sponsoring a movie-style theater seat or a hat worn by your favorite Hollywood hero or villain? Contact 317.275.1311 or for sponsorship opportunities.

  • Grafton Tyler Brown: An important new acquisition

    by James H. Nottage, Vice President and Chief Curatorial Officer, Gund Curator of Western art, history and culture | Oct 24, 2017

    Grafton_Tyler_Brown_Castle_Geyser_YellowstoneVisitors to the Eiteljorg starting in November 2018 will experience beautifully reimagined Western art galleries. The best of our collections will be featured; and new experiences through technology will help convey the history and meaning of the art. The best of works from the Harrison Eiteljorg, George Gund, and K. S. “Bud” Adams collections will be shown in the best light, and will be joined by works acquired to fill gaps in the overall collection.

    The good news is that one of the newly acquired paintings is on exhibit right now, and it will be part of the galleries and our efforts to demonstrate the broader diversity of Western art by artists from many national and cultural backgrounds. Now featured in the Gund Gallery of Western Art is a notable painting by Grafton Tyler Brown.

    Born in Pennsylvania in 1841, Brown moved to San Francisco and worked as a lithographer and commercial artist. Brown was one of a small number of recognized African American painters to work in the West in the 1800s. He became known for creating and publishing cityscapes, business documents and maps. Later he was known for his paintings of the Western landscape, settling for a time in Oregon, British Columbia and Montana. His last years were spent as a draftsman and map maker in St. Paul, Minnesota.

    GraftonTylerBrown_artist_imageGrafton Tyler Brown’s depictions of Yosemite, Yellow-stone and the mountains of the Pacific Northwest are represented in a select few museum collections. Castle Geyser, Yellowstone, was sketched on-site by Brown on Sep. 6, 1890, and the canvas was completed in 1891 at his Helena, Montana, studio. The work reminds us that people with diverse roots have been a part of the Western experience, and that the traces of their lives are something we can all see and appreciate. The work also helps to expand the museum’s holdings of landscape views of the American West.

    Image Captions:

    Grafton Tyler Brown (1841-1918)
    Castle Geyser, Yellowstone, 1891, oil on canvas
    Museum purchase through the generosity of Harrison Eiteljorg

    Grafton Tyler Brown at work in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1883.
    Courtesy of Royal BC Museum, BC Archives, Victoria.

    This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of
    Storyteller magazine. 



  • Celebrate Native American Heritage Month at the Eiteljorg

    by Alisa Nordholt-Dean | Oct 23, 2017

    Mario Martinez_Conversation

    November is National Native American Heritage Month and what better way to celebrate than by visiting the Eiteljorg. Peruse the museum galleries, join in a curator tour, see Native Art Now! and meet two incredibly talented Native artists visiting Indianapolis to inspire visitors and showcase their beadwork skills. Here is a sampling of what’s in store for November.

    Curator’s Choice Tour:
    Cut Fold, and Sew: The Miami, Potawatomi and Delaware Arts of Ribbonwork with Dr. Scott Shoemaker, the Thomas G. and Susan C. Hoback curator of Native American art, history and culture. Nov. 3 at noon.

    Native Art Now! 
    Don’t miss this exhibit of iconic contemporary Native art from the Eiteljorg’s permanent collection. Opens Nov. 11.

    Karen Ann HoffmanArtist in Residence: Karen Ann Hoffman (Oneida)
    Award-winning artist Karen Ann Hoffman creates beautifully decorative pieces using Iroquois raised beadwork. Her work has been displayed across the nation and is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the Wisconsin Historical Museum and other institutions. Meet Karen and learn about her art and culture during open studio sessions on Nov. 11, 18 and 25. She will also teach a brooch-making workshop on Nov. 22.

    Katrina MittenArtist in Residence: Katrina Mitten (Miami Tribe of Oklahoma)
    Beadwork artist Katrina Mitten creates embroidery-style beadwork traditional to Native peoples of the Great Lakes. She has won numerous awards for her work over the years and her pieces can be seen in museums around the nation. On Nov. 24 and 25, meet Katrina, learn about her Miami culture, and watch as she demonstrates beadwork techniques.

    Visit for the latest information about art-making events and opportunities to meet artists.


    Image caption for Native Art Now! image at top:

    Mario Martinez (Pascua Yaqui, born 1953)
    The Conversation, 2004
    Acrylic and charcoal on canvas
    Museum Purchase: Eiteljorg Fellowship


    This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Storyteller magazine.


  • Artistry and Excellence: A conversation with Betsy Theobald Richards about Native Art Now!

    by Bryan Corbin, editor, Storyteller magazine | Oct 23, 2017

    Betsy Theobald RichardsTo lead the dialogue at a convening of scholars and top contemporary Native artists, the Eiteljorg has selected a nationally known art and social justice expert: Betsy Theobald Richards (Cherokee Nation). With two decades of experience in philanthropy, arts education, advocacy and theater directing and producing, Richards served at the Pequot Museum and Ford Foundation and now is program director for The Opportunity Agenda. With a passion for Native art (her aunt is the renowned artist Kay WalkingStick), Richards designed the format of the facilitated conversations she will lead at Native Art Now! on Nov. 11-12 that will examine the future of contemporary Native art.

    Storyteller magazine recently interviewed Richards about the program, and her comments are lightly edited for space:

    On why she designed the format of the Native Art Now! gathering of artists and scholars to include facilitated roundtable discussions:
    “I put the suggestion out there that (the Eiteljorg) might want to try something I had tried at one of my biggest convenings called ‘Creative Change’ . . . which was how to take a large group of incredibly talented, visionary folks, and have them have a dialogue. That isn’t what we normally have, which is panels where four people sit up on the dais and talk at people and take questions. I tried to help design a format that will allow people to have dialogue among themselves, to have thought leaders for folks that begin conversations; but that the conversation then becomes owned by the group.”

    On what insights she expects participants will gain from the facilitated dialogue with artists:
    “What I hope is to get everybody thinking to create a space where people can think as big as possible about the future. Not just, ‘Five years from now we should have this program or two more exhibitions in a year,’ not just the tactics or mechanical outcomes, but really have time for some dreaming. Dreaming is a very powerful thing.”

    On the challenges that contemporary Native artists face today that will provide context for the discussions:
    “Contemporary Native art is contemporary art . . . Often contemporary Native art is sidelined. Some people are interested in historical or ethnographic pieces; but our artists are living treasures. They deserve to make a living . . . We should all appreciate the artistry and the excellence of these contemporary artists.”

    On the key points that should be conveyed to funders about the importance of supporting contemporary Native art:
    “We forget as Americans that we are on Native land and that our Indigenous cultures are an asset, something very special to this country. I think that we need to start understanding — not just funders, but America in general — what an incredible asset of our heritage and our future that our Native cultures are. And one of the most visible and powerful ways to exhibit our living cultures is through our art . . . We are living cultures, and these artists are upholding our living cultures in magnificent ways just as our ancestors did . . . If funders and the general public want to support Native communities, one of the many ways is to support Native culture (through art). Also, Native art is cool. I think people need to buy some Native art.”

    On her social justice work and how that relates to the convening of Fellowship artists:
    “A lot of my work is around incorporating art, culture, pop culture and media into the work of social change. And I have continued in my work in Indian Country and am as dedicated as ever to Native American art and culture; and hopefully I’ll be bringing the skills that I’ve learned, both around facilitation and around how to advance a dialogue, to this convening.”


    Artists and scholars will convene for a dialogue led by Betsy Theobald Richards about contemporary Native art. The morning and afternoon events and lunch together are $30 per person or $15 for students.
    10 a.m. to noon: Facilitated discussion
    Noon to 1 p.m.: Buffet lunch
    1–3 p.m.: Preview of clips from the Native Art Now! documentary followed by roundtable discussions.
    5–9 p.m.: Native Art Now! exhibit opening celebration. This evening event is $50 for members and $60 for nonmembers.

    SUNDAY, NOV 12
    10:30 a.m. to noon: Fellowship artists convening led by Betsy Theobald Richards. The Eiteljorg Fellows will deliberate on the Fellowship to help forge its future. This event is included with general admission and the public is invited to attend, but please register.

    To register to attend any of the events, contact Mary Whistler at 317.275.1316 or by Nov. 3 or log onto

    Kay WalkingStick -- Wallawa Memory

    Image caption:

    Kay WalkingStick (Cherokee Nation)
    Wallowa Memory, 2003
    Gift: Courtesy of the artist

    Photograph of Betsy Theobald Richards is courtesy of The Opportunity Agenda.

    This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Storyteller magazine.

  • Popular holiday tradition Jingle Rails returns this year with new Hollywood theme

    by Emily Sabens, marketing intern | Oct 23, 2017

    17JingleRailsImageNoLogoSince it first opened in 2010, Jingle Rails: The Great
    Western Adventure
    has become a cherished Indianapolis holiday tradition for families. The extraordinary miniature train attraction returns to the Eiteljorg on Saturday,
    Nov. 18.

    In Jingle Rails, nine G-scale trains chug along nearly 1,200 feet of track through iconic scenes and landmarks of the West that visitors are sure to recognize. Made of all-natural materials such as bark, twigs and acorns, the backdrops are decked out in bright, festive holiday lighting.

    One of the most affordable holiday attractions in Indianapolis, Jingle Rails is included with regular admission, and children age 4 and under are free.

    The Jingle Rails adventure begins in the museum’s Clowes Court, where a miniature train departs from a scaled-down version of downtown Indianapolis. It swings past replicas of Monument Circle, Lucas Oil Stadium, Union Station and the Eiteljorg itself.

    After exploring the Circle City, visitors follow the trains to other displays depicting the iconic landmarks of the American West. You’ll see recreations of national parks and lodges, a Northwest Coast Native village, an Aspen ski resort and wonders — both natural and man-made — including Mount Rushmore, Mesa Verde, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Old Faithful, Hoover Dam, Golden Gate Bridge and more.

    There is an exciting addition this year: Visitors will be able to experience Hollywood and see familiar landmarks such as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Warner Bros. water tower, the Griffith Park Observatory and, of course, the iconic Hollywood sign. The display is thanks to a generous donation from the Kortepeter Family, who have committed to supporting a new addition to Jingle Rails each year.

    The Hollywood backdrop also includes a replica of a traditional Western movie set, complete with a saloon, bank and sheriff’s office — a nice lead-in to the museum’s upcoming 2018 special exhibit, The Reel West. Opening March 3, The Reel West will examine how Hollywood movies and television have shaped the public’s ideas of the American West.

    From its inception seven years ago, Jingle Rails has expanded in size, scope and popularity. The must-see attraction extends from Clowes Sculpture Court into Eagle Commons. Families can again pose for a keepsake photo next to a towering replica of a locomotive steam engine — created from tree roots and honeycomb — that was a recent addition in 2016. Visitors also will enjoy a birds-eye view of each train by exploring the interactive kiosk.

    Jingle Rails was designed and built by Paul Busse and his talented crew of creative artists, botanical architects and landscape designers at Applied Imagination. Based in Alexandria, Kentucky, the nationally-recognized team has created similar railway exhibitions for the New York Botanical Garden and the United States Botanical Garden in Washington, D.C.

    Jingle Rails photoOver the years, Jingle Rails has received national acclaim. It was featured in a Chicago Tribune article highlighting popular Midwest holiday attractions. Fox News Travel recognized Jingle Rails in an article titled, “See the world in miniature: 12 of the most incredible model railways.” USA Today also recognized Jingle Rails as a “10 Best” Indianapolis holiday attraction.

    Last year, more than 40,000 guests experienced the holiday railway. All the while, a dedicated team of staff, volunteers and model-railroading enthusiasts keep the trains and display running smoothly.

    Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure will remain open until Jan. 15. Don’t miss this captivating and beloved holiday tradition.

    At the Eiteljorg Museum
    Nov. 18 to Jan. 15

    Included with regular museum admission  (except on Jan. 15 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day; admission is free on that date only.)

    This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Storyteller magazine. 

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