Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • 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.”

  • Eiteljorg Museum Café Releases Fresh Spring Menu

    by Brittan Semler, marketing & communications intern | Apr 24, 2018

    The Eiteljorg Museum Café has updated its seasonal menu to welcome the warm weather with fresh new flavors. In effect since April 10, the spring menu includes new additions such as the delectable Shrimp Ceviche from the Nibbles section. This gluten-free option features cilantro citrus-marinated shrimp tossed with avocado, cucumber and bell peppers, and is wrapped with sliced cucumber for a unique presentation.

    Shrimp Ceviche

    Featured on the menu under Cold Sandwiches, the vegan Quinoa Wrap is made with almond mint quinoa tabbouleh, kale, avocado, red pepper and agave vinaigrette, served in a spinach herb wrap. The Hot Sandwiches section features a new Fried Green Tomato Torta and Café Cuban sandwich. The torta represents another vegetarian option, served on tomato focaccia bread and topped with avocado, sautéed kale, caramelized onions and roasted red peppers, finished with a chipotle spread. The Café Cuban sandwich is made with agave-glazed smoked pork shoulder, ham, provolone, mango chutney, chili garlic aioli and toasted Cuban bread.

    Cafe Cuban Sandwich

    For something lighter, the Specialty Salads section also boasts two fresh – and gluten-free -- new favorites. The Sweet Cherry Chicken Salad is served with an elegant assortment of roasted chicken, baby kale, mixed greens, brie, diced apple, sunflower seeds and candied ginger, topped with sweet cherry vinaigrette. The Mojito Watermelon Salad is comprised of a colorful collection of Bibb lettuce, watermelon, almonds, strawberries, mandarin oranges and feta cheese, drizzled with agave mint vinaigrette.

    The Museum Café is operated by Kahn’s Catering, and the menu is updated two times a year to reflect seasonal changes. Stop by during a visit to the museum or a walk along the canal to sample all these unique, flavorful spring dishes before they’re gone. You can find the Museum Café spring menu at this link:

    The Eiteljorg Museum Café is open during all normal museum hours, but the full menu is only available mid-day:  11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 2:30 p.m. Sunday.  A more limited menu of light snacks is available in the late afternoons after the full-menu service ends. Beverages are available all day. No admission is required if only visiting the museum café.

  • Meet Our Admissions Staff

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

    Brandi Crocker and Lorna Speece, the guest services coordinators at the Eiteljorg, are strong advocates of the positive impact their admissions staff has on guests to the museum. Their staff does much more than take admission and greet visitors – they are a guest’s best resource to get oriented to the content of the exhibits, understand the core values of the museum and answer any questions they have.

    Brandi Crocker and Lorna Speece

    “We have the opportunity to help positively mold (our guests’) view of the Eiteljorg during their visit with us,” said Lorna, who cherishes any opportunity she gets to interact with the visitors. 

    Lorna started at the Eiteljorg as a security supervisor three years ago, but when the guest services coordinator position opened in 2016, she jumped at the opportunity. With a background in customer service, she wanted to be able to interact with the museum guests, who come to see exhibits and attend events.

    Much like Lorna, Brandi started at the Eiteljorg in a much different position than the one she holds today. In 2013, she served as an intern in the collections department, moved to admissions in the spring of 2014, and then coordinator in the spring of 2015. In her time as a part-time admissions staffer, Brandi experienced first-hand the large responsibility that falls to those working the front desk. She has a degree in history and museum studies, as well as a background in banking and finance, giving her even more experience in customer service through her work as a lender.

    “Many other departments within the museum contribute to the visitor’s experience, which in turn affects the guest services department,” she said. “One or both of (the coordinators) are involved in the planning process of programming and events throughout the museum so when the visitor has questions we can answer them in an educated manner. This requires our staff to have a wide breadth of knowledge.”


    Lorna and Brandi are joined by seven part-time staffers who work the admissions desk. All members of the guest services team have a background in education or museum studies. Here is the team roster of the part-time employees:

    • Elizabeth (Courtney) Duff is graduating from IUPUI this year with a liberal arts degree and is minoring in Native American studies. She plans to attend IUPUI for graduate school this fall to earn a master’s in museum studies.
    • Khadija Evans in addition to her Eiteljorg admissions job also works full-time for the Indianapolis Children’s Museum’s call center, focusing on group tours. These two jobs have given her an excellent background in customer service and knowledge of the museum institution.
    • Kelsey Keating works a full-time job in addition to her part-time Eiteljorg work. She recently received a position at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, where she continues to share her passion for art with visitors through guest services.
    • Briana Cockerham works at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum in guest services and attends IUPUI full time in pursuit of an engineering degree on top of dedicating part of her time to the visitors of the Eiteljorg.
    • Shelby Barlow has a number of positions in museums all over Indianapolis, working guest services at the Eiteljorg, the Indiana State Police Museum in collections, and at IMA-Newfields in audience engagement.
    • Jeff Coulson, a retired schoolteacher, also dedicates some of his time to working in the Frank and Katrina Basile Museum Store in addition to his admissions work.
    • Sarah Naum also works at the Museum Store in addition to admissions, making her a great source for guests to ask questions about the items they can purchase at the Eiteljorg. She serves in the Indiana National Guard.

    “We have some hard working people,” Brandi said. “They’re the ones who make the guest experience at this museum memorable.”

    Next time you visit, make sure to utilize the vast source of knowledge and experience our admissions staff has to offer.

  • Spring Market Returns April 21 Featuring Unique Local Artists

    by Brittan Semler, marketing & communications intern | Apr 10, 2018

    Spring Market, an annual event featuring local artists selling their artwork, is set to return to the Eiteljorg Museum on Saturday, April 21. This event, previously known as the Women in Art Market before its name changed last year, will feature about 25 vendors selling handmade jewelry, glassware, paintings and more in the museum’s Eagle Commons. Access to the market is included with admission to the museum; and Eiteljorg members are free. (Click here to purchase a membership today)

    For Jaq Nigg, the museum’s festivals and markets manager, the best part of Spring Market is the intimate atmosphere which fosters building relationships between artists and the public. “There’s nothing like finding something you love that’s handmade, and being able to express that and discuss it with the artist who made it. It makes it so special.” The spring theme of this particular market inspires bright colors and some floral themes, making this a perfect opportunity to select a thoughtful gift for Mother’s Day. “I always think it’s neat that, if you’re going to give gifts, that it’s handmade because it’s so much more special . . .  and not even gifts – for yourself, too, you know? Everyone likes to treat themselves during spring, especially after this winter that doesn’t want to end.”

    Liz Perr-McColm

    Guests can look forward to admiring and purchasing the works of many notable local artists including Katrina Mitten, a popular Indian Market artist who specializes in beaded bags and Miami-style jewelry, and Mint Evans, an artist who repurposes found objects to make quirky art pieces. Some new artists will also be making their Eiteljorg debut during Spring Market; Matt Breunig specializes in rough-hewn jewelry and B. Skinner will be selling glass work.

    B. Skinner

    Spring Market gives Eiteljorg visitors the opportunity to purchase original handmade artwork from local artists within the community. To Jaq, art markets go beyond the buying and selling of art; they affect people on a much deeper level, inspiring genuine human connection. “Every time people have the opportunity to interact with living artists, it just makes the world better,” Jaq said.  The market begins when the museum opens at 10 a.m. We hope to see you there.

  • Kick up your boots at Cowpokes & Cocktails benefit, Saturday, April 28

    by Samantha Roll, marketing & communications intern | Mar 28, 2018

    In 2017, we reimagined the annual Eiteljorg fund-raiser benefitting the museum’s education and public programs departments. Cowpokes & Cocktails was born and what a resounding success it was with increased attendance and contributions. This year’s iteration will once again be an exciting, high-end fundraiser and guaranteed night of fun.


    The second annual Cowpokes & Cocktails heads to Fitness Farm – a new venue that offers lots of room under a large party tent, with ample parking and speedy checkout for auction items. Guests are encouraged to abide by the “Cowboy Optional” dress code, and to wear attire conducive for walking on plush grass. We are very grateful to Fitness Farm and Joan SerVaas for the opportunity to share this beautiful space.

    The night will kick off under the main tent with the return of the cocktail contest featuring High West Bourbon, and food stations with a variety of offerings from Kahn’s Catering. The silent auction and fund-a-need opportunity officially open at the start of the event, and will be powered by BidPal, so guests can conveniently bid in real time from their smart phones. However, BidPal will have people onsite to help those who may not have a smartphone.

    Forty-three silent auction items are available this year, all sure to pique the interest of any guest. The Visual Arts Package is predicted to be among the most popular, offering the winner passes to IMA-Newfields and the Indiana State Museum, a private tour for four at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, and a gift certificate to Tinker Street restaurant. The Performing Arts Package also will be in demand, with tickets to The Cabaret, Dance Kaleidoscope, the Indianapolis Opera and Indiana Repertory Theatre and a Cunningham Restaurant Group gift certificate. Other big ticket items include a Sun King Brewery Tour, A West Fork Whiskey Distillery Tour and these one-of-a-kind pieces of Native art and jewelry:

    Sterling Silver and Turquoise Pendant
    Artist: Erick Begay
    $330 value
    Starting bid $116

    A Maine Morning painting by Brain Woods
    $1,500 value
    Starting bid $525

    Inlaid Watch
    Artist: David Kuticka
    $400 value
    Starting bid $140

    Although bidding will not open until 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, the remaining silent and live auction items are available for view on the Cowpokes & Cocktails BidPal website, which can be accessed by clicking here.

    This year’s live auction will begin after the conclusion of the cocktail contest. Kristi Lee, news director and co-host of The Bob & Tom Show on Q95 and host of Kristi Lee Uninterrupted, will serve as the evening’s emcee and auctioneer.  A private two-hour painting workshop for a group of six with Eiteljorg artist in residence, DG House (Cherokee of Northeast Alabama) is up for grabs, along with a home-cooked dinner with Eiteljorg president and CEO John Vanausdall. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway package is also among the live auction items, and includes four tickets to the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500, four Silver Badges/Race Day credentials, four VIP tickets to the Carb Day concert and four more VIP tickets to the Legends Day concert.

    A chance to win a three-night stay at the Tickle Pink Inn in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, also will be auctioned off live.

    Join us on the evening of Saturday, April 28 at the Fitness Farm, 2525 West 44th Street, Indianapolis. At our core is the belief that all children should experience art, regardless of socioeconomic status, and the proceeds will directly benefit the museum’s education and public programs that are ever important and impactful.

    Sponsorships still are available. Entertain clients and reward employees all while supporting arts education. Sponsorships range from $5,000 to $20,000. Individual tickets are $200 per person or $1,800 per table of 10. Registration is required. Contact Mary Whistler for more information at 317.275.1316 or

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