David Brenneman. Courtesy photo


While it’s true the Indiana University Eskenazi Museum of Art closed its doors in May for major renovations, Director David Brenneman says the museum is still a player in the art community. “The closure won’t circumscribe our activities,” he says. “We’ll still be out in the world.”

The physical collection of almost 45,000 objects will be out of the museum by October and largely inaccessible during the renovation, safely stored on the IU campus. Still, according to Brenneman, “800 of the finest objects selected by the museum’s curators” can be viewed on the museum’s website. Some works will be on loan to other institutions outside of Bloomington.

At that point, the architects will move into the I. M. Pei–designed building for a year. When the project is finished, the museum will have updated building systems, expanded gallery and event space, a new entry and lecture hall, and a re-envisioned atrium. The renovation will create four new museum centers that emphasize the Eskenazi’s mission as a teaching museum. The individual centers will focus on art education, art conservation, the study of works on paper, and training future curators.

“We expect to open for fall semester in 2019,” Brenneman says, “but architectural projects are prone to delays whether they are in your home or in a major museum.”

During the closure, the museum will work on improving access to the permanent collection online. Major collections include ancient jewelry, East African art, African ceramics, and German Expressionism. And the museum will keep up its outreach to Indiana schools. A corps of docents will visit schools to demonstrate effective ways to use art in the classroom no matter the subject. “Every discipline can find a way into our collection,” Brenneman says.

The museum also will sponsor community programs. “We’ll still be partnering with the university for First Thursdays, with the Lotus Festival, and with Youth Art Month,” Brenneman says.

The renovation project is made possible in part by a $15 million gift from Indianapolis-based philanthropists Sidney and Lois Eskenazi. Their gift will be matched by the university as part of its bicentennial campaign.

“There will be short-term pain,” Brenneman says, “but when the museum reopens, we will be a better, more engaging institution.”

Visit magbloom.com/iuartmuseumonline to view the museum’s online collection.