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Indianapolis Museum of Art to Open Miller House and Garden for Public Tours in May 2011
Miller House and Garden. Courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN.- Maxwell L. Anderson, The Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, announced today that the IMA will open Miller House and Garden to the public in May 2011. Located in Columbus, Ind., and one of the country’s most highly regarded examples of mid-century Modernist residences, the Miller House was designed by Eero Saarinen, with interiors by Alexander Girard, and landscape design by Daniel Urban Kiley.

Members of the Miller family donated the house and gardens, along with many of its original furnishings, to the Museum in 2009. Additionally, members of the Miller family and the Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation have donated $5 million to establish an endowment for the house and surrounding grounds. The IMA is working with the Columbus Area Visitors Center to offer public guided tours of the house and gardens beginning in May 2011.

“The Miller House showcases the work of leading 20th-century architects and designers and we believe that it’s important to preserve this internationally known jewel in the Columbus, Indiana, community,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, the Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. “We look forward to making this significant Modernist landmark available to the public.”

Commissioned by industrialist and philanthropist J. Irwin Miller and his wife Xenia Simons Miller in 1952, Miller House and Garden was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2000. The house expands upon an architectural tradition developed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe—epitomizing the international Modernist aesthetic—with an open and flowing layout, flat roof and vast stone and glass walls. The rooms, configured beneath a grid pattern of skylights supported by cruciform steel columns, are filled with strong colors and playful patterns. Amid the residence’s large geometric gardens, its grandest feature is an alle of honey locust trees that runs along the west side of the house. The Miller House was the first designated National Historic Landmark listed with a still-living landscape architect that also was still occupied by its original owners at the date of its designation.

Columbus, Ind., is ranked sixth in the nation by the American Institute of Architects for architectural innovation and design. National Geographic Traveler ranked Columbus as America’s most significant historic place on the strength of its architectural heritage. As a way to attract outstanding architectural talent to design public facilities in the central Indiana community of Columbus, Miller created the Architecture Design Program within The Cummins Foundation. Miller met Eero Saarinen during the construction of the First Christian Church in Columbus, which was designed by Saarinen’s father Eliel. Eero Saarinen helped Miller design the Architecture Design Program and recruit rising young architectural talent to participate in the 1950s. In addition to the Cummins Foundation’s Architecture Design Program, which funded excellent design for public facilities, Cummins, other businesses and many churches in Columbus adopted the same strategy of using good design to create a more economically vibrant and livable city. Today there are more than 70 buildings by noted modern architects—such as I. M. Pei, Cesar Pelli, Robert Venturi, Richard Meier, John Carl Warnecke and Harry Weese—in the city, as well as public art works by internationally renowned architects and artists.

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