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Indianapolis Museum of Art receives a grant to digitize Miller House and Garden archive materials
Miller House and Garden. Courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

INDIANAPOLIS, IND.- The Indianapolis Museum of Art announced today it received a $190,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize, catalog, and make accessible online a multitude of primary materials about Miller House and Garden. Part of the IMA Archives, the Miller House and Garden Collection includes materials such as architectural drawings and blueprints, correspondence, textile samples, sketches and photographs that document the design, construction and maintenance of the property. Located in Columbus, Ind., Miller House is one of the country’s most highly-regarded examples of midcentury Modernist residential architecture and was designed by Eero Saarinen, with interiors by Alexander Girard, and landscape design by Dan Kiley.

Miller House and Garden opened to the public in May 2011, with tours made possible through the Columbus Area Visitors Center. Since opening one year ago, more than 6,500 tour tickets have been sold with more than 95 percent of tours at full capacity. Commissioned by industrialist and philanthropist J. Irwin Miller (1909–2004) and his wife Xenia Simons Miller (1917–2008) in 1953, Miller House and Garden was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2000, while still occupied by its original owners. In 2009, members of the Miller family donated the house and gardens, along with many of its original furnishings and the archives collection to the IMA.

“The digital archives will allow scholars and mid-century enthusiasts alike an opportunity to delve deeper into Miller House and explore the history of this National Historic Landmark,” said Bradley Brooks, IMA Director of Historic Resources. “Thanks to the generous support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, researchers will be able to see not only original plans for the house, but also samples, invoices and correspondence between the Millers and designers.”

The Miller House and Garden Collection includes materials documenting the design, construction, history, and maintenance of the residence for a period of more than 50 years. The materials reflect the design work of Saarinen, Girard and Kiley, as well as the involvement of the Millers in shaping their home and garden. The total collection extends 335 linear feet: 15 shelves holding 65 boxes containing correspondence, invoices, building and textile samples, and photographs plus eight flat file drawers of architectural drawings and blueprints. The collection includes four types of materials—documents, photographs, drawings and material samples—which together create an unusually comprehensive record. While most architectural archives document only the single perspective of the architect, the Miller House archives include the views of the client, architect, interior designer and landscape designer, as well as several photographers and a number of other collaborators.

The digitization of materials will take approximately two years to complete. The collection will be captured digitally and described with detailed cataloguing data according to national standards. Once the materials have been digitized, the collection will be made available through the IMA website. Digitization will help preserve this collection and will increase its availability to a growing research audience.

Formally established in 2010, the IMA Archives comprises more than 1,000 linear feet of museum records, manuscripts, personal papers, ephemera, scrapbooks, photographs, videotapes, films and artifacts chronicling the history of the institution since its founding in 1883.

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