May 27, 2005

Expanded museum offers artwork, nature, antiques and fine dining

By Mary Ann Wyand

Newly renovated and sparkling in the sunshine, the distinctive glass and steel circular entrance pavilion of the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Indianapolis beckons visitors to come inside and explore the beautiful historic and contemporary artwork displayed in its expertly remodeled galleries.

Even on a warm spring day when the 152-acre landscaped grounds at 4000 Michigan Road are a perfect place to hike, ride a bicycle or enjoy a picnic, the lure of the new museum still succeeds in inviting people inside to browse the exhibits.

The art museum’s $74 million renovation is a three-year project, which continues with updates to several galleries during 2005 and 2006. The new museum opened on May 6, and the architectural design is earning praise from appreciative museum patrons for its welcoming and handicap-accessible entrance.

The art museum campus also is the home of the historic Lilly House, Garden Terrace meeting center, Horticultural Studies Center, Better Than New Shop, greenhouse and numerous ornate gardens.

St. Simon the Apostle parishioner Jessica Di Santo of Indianapolis, communications manager for the museum, said visitors who park in the new underground garage will enjoy walking past Gary artist Kay Rosen’s colorful palindrome installation called “Never Odd or Even,” which reads the same backward or forward.

Di Santo said the American and European galleries are open and the new contemporary art gallery opens on Nov. 20 followed by the African and South Pacific art galleries on Feb. 5, 2006. The Asian art and fashion arts galleries open on June 11, 2006, and the decorative arts gallery will open on Dec. 3, 2006.

Our Lady of the Greenwood parishioner Sue Nord-Peiffer of Greenwood is the greenhouse supervisor and horticulturist at the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Madelyn F. Elder Greenhouse on the art museum grounds.

“What’s really amazing about this institution is that not many art museums can give you the many different kinds of experiences that you can have here because of the large landscape,” she said. “So many art museums are landlocked in cities.”

The property was originally owned by members of the Eli Lilly family and was known as Oldfields.

“The greenhouse is part of the historic Oldfields estate,” she said. “It’s one of the outbuildings. The glass houses date back to the 20s. … The old estate is a National Historic Landmark.”

The greenhouse is open year-round, Nord-Peiffer said. “It’s exciting to have all the new vitality and new visitors coming to see us as well as the new museum. … I think the new contemporary gardens are so exciting. We’ve got beautiful historic gardens, and now we have the opportunity to expand and have contemporary [landscaped] space. The Sutphin Fountain is now situated in a garden rather than being in the roadway. This wonderful old feature of the museum has been enhanced greatly and can be enjoyed from indoors as well.”

Nord-Peiffer said the 100-acre Virginia Fairbanks Art and Nature Park will be developed on the west side of the Central Canal Towpath on museum property, and “great things will be happening there in the next few years.”

(For information on the new Indianapolis Museum of Art hours, exhibits and events, log on to


Local site Links: