Eiteljorg Museum Receives $17.1 Million Gift

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The donation to the Eiteljorg will help fund new orientation space, gallery interactives, building enhancements and more

Eiteljorg Museum

The Eiteljorg Museum of Museum American Indians and Western Art

Imagine our joy at being able to connect the creative giants and genius of the past and present with the unimaginable and unlimited possibilities of the future.

The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art has received a $17.1 million gift from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. The generous donation caps the first phase of the institution’s Project New Moon campaign. It will help grow the institution’s endowment and will fund several transformative projects leading to a more vibrant guest experience.

“We are extremely grateful to the donors for this amazing gift,” says John Vanausdall, president and CEO of the Eiteljorg Museum. “It strengthens our financial future through support of the endowment, but also enables us to dramatically ramp up our successful efforts to attract new audiences by energizing the museum in bold new ways.”

Thanks in large part to this contribution, beginning in early 2013, visitors to the Eiteljorg Museum will be greeted by a brand new, engaging and interactive orientation experience. From the museum’s main entrance, guests will step into a high-tech space that introduces them to elements of Western and Native art and cultures through objects, video and interactivity. The gift will also help transform the museum’s galleries, adding interactive stations as paths to stories that provide deeper context to art and artifacts. Additionally, it will help provide for the enclosure of the Eiteljorg’s east and north terraces, offering a year-round dining experience for guests of the museum’s café and allowing more room for events in the Allen W. Clowes Sculpture Court, and the growth of the popular holiday experience Jingle Rails. This gift will also fund outreach to help schools and educators leverage the Eiteljorg as a learning resource. Lastly, the donation will help support the annual Quest for the West® Art Show and Sale. A unique offering east of the Mississippi, the Eiteljorg’s annual Western American art exhibition attracts major art collectors from across the country to interact with and buy from some of today’s best living Western artists.

In a letter to the Eiteljorg Museum Board of Directors, the donors shared:

“What we are doing with our gifting has been described as extraordinary. It is not that, but it is necessary. We consider this a “bridge” gift. Imagine our joy at being able to connect the creative giants and genius of the past and present with the unimaginable and unlimited possibilities of the future. It is about stepping inside the massive wood doors and being welcomed to diversity, preservation of a unique American culture, having fun and feeling awe before you leave.”

In 2009, the Eiteljorg launched the Project New Moon Campaign to fund a new direction for the institution. Support by major funders helped the museum set a new course that resulted in last year’s record attendance; a rebranding of the museum’s public image; and popular new exhibits and experiences, including Pistols: Amazing Firearms, Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure, Red/Black: Related Through History and next year’s highly-anticipated Steel Ponies motorcycle exhibit.

Vanausdall notes that the Project New Moon fundraising campaign will continue with tremendous momentum, buoyed by the $17.1 million contribution. To date, including this new anonymous gift, the Eiteljorg has raised $8.7 million of an $11 million near-term capital goal, and more than $32 million in cash and pledges toward a long-term objective of building a $50 million endowment.

He goes on to say, “We have big dreams for the future. The Eiteljorg has come to be recognized nationally as a world-class institution and a major contributor to the field of Native American and Western American art, history and culture. These new initiatives will have a profound impact for all visitors, but especially our local and regional guests. Doing great work requires great support. We are overwhelmingly grateful for the generosity and vision of these anonymous donors.”

The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art works to inspire an appreciation and understanding of the art, history and cultures of the American West and the indigenous peoples of North America. The museum, which opened in 1989, is located in Downtown Indianapolis’ White River State Park. For general information about the museum and to learn more about exhibits and events, call (317) 636-WEST (9378) or visit http://www.eiteljorg.org.

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Anthony Scott

Tamara Winfrey Harris
Eiteljorg Museum
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