Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Hello, Goodbye: Longtime employees will be missed, new employees welcomed

    by | | May 29, 2018

    The Eiteljorg Museum recently said goodbye to three dedicated employees who have moved on and welcomed some new colleagues:

    Jan Eason
    Jan Eason

    Jan Eason
    has been a beloved member of the Eiteljorg team for more than 26 years, almost as long as the museum has existed.  As education services coordinator, Jan worked in scheduling school field trips and adult tours and supported volunteer tour guides with training and schedules. She retired April 16.

    “Jan added much to the happiness of the museum,” Eiteljorg Vice President and Chief Curatorial Officer James Nottage said. “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.”

    Jaq Nigg
    Jaq Nigg

    Jaq Nigg in April wrapped up 17 years at the Eiteljorg as festivals and markets manager. With a background in film production, Jaq developed and refined the annual Indian Market and Festival into one of the top Native art markets in the nation. She also managed the museum’s Winter Market, Spring Market and WestFest events. Jaq cultivated close ties with Native artists and performers, and created a consortium of market planners across the nation that developed into a supportive professional network.  She moved on to a new position as production and operations manager at The Cabaret in Indianapolis.

    Kelsey Donson, right, and Lorna Speece, left
    Kelsey Donson, right, and Lorna Speece, left

    Another departure in May was Kelsey Donson, who has been manager of catering and rental events for the past 2 ½ years.  When couples booked weddings and receptions at the Eiteljorg, or when corporate event planners booked the museum space for company functions, Kelsey was in charge of ensuring all the details of their special day went exactly as planned. Kelsey and her family are relocating to another city, and Lorna Speece, who has been co-coordinator of Guest Services, has succeeded her as manager of catering and rental events.

    Jan Eason, Jaq Nigg and Kelsey Donson all will be missed by their Eiteljorg co-workers, and the museum wishes them the best.

    Allison Evans
    Allison Evans

    The Eiteljorg’s collections department maintains, cares for and organizes thousands of artworks and cultural objects, both those on exhibit and many more in storage. The department’s new director, Allison H. Evans, came to the Eiteljorg in January with 17 years of experience in the collections field, most recently at the Stark Museum in Orange, Texas. In her opening months at the Eiteljorg, Allison oversaw preparation of objects installed in The Reel West exhibition. Allison succeeds former collections director Amy McKune, who last year moved on to a museum in Missouri.

    Paul Jones
    Paul Jones

    Helping to keep the museum’s computer systems operating smoothly is Paul Jones, who joined the Eiteljorg in January as IT support assistant and AV technician.  Paul worked in computer systems for 29 years at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and previously served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

    Paul succeeds Tom L. Coble II, who was promoted to the position of Eiteljorg director of technology. Tom succeeded longtime director Dee McConville, who retired in December.

    Kristin Stout
    Kristin Stout

    The new librarian of the museum's Watanabe Family Library is Kristin Stout, who brings long experience in libraries and our content areas. With a bachelor's degree in history from Ball State University and a Master of Library Science degree from Indiana University, she worked for eight years as the reference and instruction librarian at Lane Library at Armstrong University in Savannah, Ga., and also at Herron Art Library and Lebanon Public Library.  Kristin succeeded former Eiteljorg librarian Dana Duffy, who moved on to a new position as education manager for the Monroe County History Center in Bloomington.

    Note: This article is a special online feature of Storyteller magazine.  This story included contributions from Eiteljorg marketing interns Samantha Roll, Brittan Semler and Rachel Foley.  Read more about the museum employees on the Eiteljorg blog:


  • Eiteljorg Insider | Samantha Roll, Marketing and Communications Intern

    by Samantha Roll, marketing and communications intern | May 29, 2018

    Last November, I had the privilege of shadowing Hyacinth Rucker, the Eiteljorg communications coordinator, through an event put on by the Public Relations Society of America Hoosier Chapter. That experience opened my eyes to what an amazing institution this museum truly is – something I had been completely oblivious to, despite attending college not even a 10-minute walk from the Eiteljorg. Hyacinth encouraged me to apply for the spring marketing and communications intern position, and I jumped at the opportunity.

    Samantha Roll

    As a sophomore at IUPUI majoring in journalism and public relations, I was looking for an internship that would provide me with a wide range of experiences, and that’s exactly what I found at the Eiteljorg. Since early January, the marketing and communications team has given me access to opportunities I wouldn’t have received anywhere else. I have planned and prepared strategic social media posts, attended exhibit-premiere parties, events and fundraisers, created content for the Eiteljorg Blog, and learned so much about the museum and the wonderful people who work here.

    interns store 2
    Robert Tate, retail manager talks to Samantha Roll & Brittan Semler, both marketing and communications interns

    Having the opportunity to be a part of promoting The Reel West exhibit was by far the most enlightening experience of the past four months, as I observed all the hard work that goes into such a large exhibition. From reaching the public through both social and local media outlets, to advertising campaigns and everything in between, I was able to have a small part in it all. Watching the marketing team’s work come to fruition in a successful opening to the exhibit was extremely fulfilling, and one of my favorite parts of my internship here.

    Brittan, Samantha & Hyacinth

    This position provided me with a look into the public relations and communications career field, and has made me excited for what lies ahead. I am so thankful to the amazing Eiteljorg marketing team and the rest of the museum staff for making the last few months so memorable and filled with experiences I couldn’t have learned in the classroom.

  • 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.

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