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Oil Magnate, NFL Team Owner Donates Significant Art Collection to Eiteljorg Museum

by Tamara Winfrey-Harris | Sep 16, 2015

For Immediate Release:

For more information:
Tamara Winfrey-Harris
Vice President of Communications and Marketing

Oil Magnate, NFL Team Owner Donates Significant Art Collection to Eiteljorg Museum

Multi-million dollar gift is one of the largest in the institution’s 26-year history

(Indianapolis)  [Sept. 16, 2015] -- Late businessman, Kenneth S. “Bud” Adams, owner of the Tennessee Titans, has generously willed a historic collection of Western paintings and Native American artifacts to the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, John Vanausdall, president and CEO, announced Saturday at the 10th anniversary gala dinner of the institution’s Quest for the West® Art Show and Sale. The multi-million dollar Kenneth S. “Bud” and Nancy Adams Collection, formerly housed in the Adams’ Houston home and office, includes significant paintings by Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, N. C. Wyeth, Thomas Moran and more of the most notable painters of the West. The collection also contains Plains Indian beadwork, clothing and hundreds of other Native American objects. It is one of the largest and most important gifts of Western and Native art the Eiteljorg has received since its founding in 1989.
“We are grateful to the Adams family for entrusting the Eiteljorg with this nationally-significant collection,” said John Vanausdall, president and CEO of the museum. “Rarely does a museum director get to experience a gift of such profound impact. The Adams Collection will enrich the museum and its offerings to the public in a meaningful way.”

Thomas Moran, The Grand Canyon, 1917, oil on canvas, Bequest of Kenneth S. “Bud” and Nancy Adams

Collectors like the Adams have been invaluable to the Eiteljorg Museum, Vanausdall added. The announcement of the Adams gift was fitting during the milestone anniversary celebration for the Quest event that annually brings hundreds of Western art collectors to Indianapolis and the Eiteljorg. Collectors like the Adams, George Gund, Helen Cox Kersting and, of course, Harrison Eiteljorg, all of whom gifted significant works to the Eiteljorg Museum, have been instrumental in the institution’s rise to local and national importance.

“The Eiteljorg Museum is one of the premier museums of Native American artifacts and Western art in North America, and it is appropriate that these priceless treasures will be housed at the Eiteljorg permanently,” said Amy Adams Strunk, daughter of Bud Adams and controlling owner of the Tennessee Titans. “This collection was very special to my father, and our family hopes that those who view these items on display will walk away with the same sense of wonder and appreciation for the culture and heritage that these unique artifacts and works of art represent.”

In addition to owning the Tennessee Titans football team, Kenneth S. “Bud” Adams was a founder of the former American Football League and CEO of Adams Resources & Energy. A native of Oklahoma, Adams had ties to Indiana as a graduate of his beloved Culver Military Academy in Culver, Ind. Adams was an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation and never lost touch with his heritage. According to his family, he took great pleasure in sharing his art and artifacts with school children and others.

Frederic Remington, A Buck-Jumper, 1893, oil on canvas, Bequest of Kenneth S. “Bud” and Nancy Adams

Since the Adams collection arrived at the museum, staffers have been doing the arduous and exciting work of unpacking, sorting, examining and cataloging each item.

“While we have known the collection for many years, this is the first time each piece has been closely studied,” said James Nottage, vice president and chief curatorial officer. “We’re excited about the many new opportunities we will have to unveil the collection and show it in the context of other rich holdings of the museum.”

Select paintings will be placed on exhibit in the museum’s Western art galleries over the next several months and from November 2016 through January of 2017 a major exhibit of the top paintings and artifacts will be presented in the Eiteljorg’s special exhibitions gallery.

About the Eiteljorg
The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western art seeks to inspire an appreciation and understanding of the art, history and cultures of the American West and the indigenous peoples of North America. The Eiteljorg is located in Downtown Indianapolis’ White River State Park, at 500 West Washington, Indianapolis, IN  46204. For general information about the museum and to learn more about exhibits and events, call 317.636.WEST (9378) or visit

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