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New contemporary design galleries open today at Indianapolis Museum of Art
Indianapolis Museum of Art's New Design Galleries. Photo: Eric Lubrick.

INDIANAPOLIS, IND.- The Indianapolis Museum of Art today opened the new contemporary design galleries on November 21, 2013, after a three-year, multi-phase renovation project. The reinstallation of the Museum’s expanded collection of modern design spans nearly 10,000 square feet and features more than 400 objects. Unlike most design installations, the IMA’s focuses on design after 1980—a period of immense growth and creativity. The galleries are based on the two overarching concepts: design as industry and design as art. The new installation is one of the largest displays of contemporary design in any North American art museum and one of the first surveys of recent trends in this dynamic field.

The IMA’s Department of Design Arts was created in 2007 and focuses on a collection of post-1945 design, representing a wide range of media, including furniture, glass, ceramics, metalwork, and product design from Europe, the United States, and Asia. Over the last six years, the department has acquired more than 1,200 objects.

Notable recent acquisitions include:

• Alessandro Mendini, Poltrona di Proust lounge chair, 1978; manufactured by Atelier Mendini; painted wood and fabric.

• Robert Venturi, Louis XVI chest, 1984-1989; designed by Venturi Scott Brown and Associates, manufactured by Paul Downs Cabinetmakers; painted wood.

• Michael Graves, Tea & Coffee Piazza Service, 1980-1984; manufactured by Alessi; 925/1000 silver, lacquered aluminum, mock ivory, and Bakelite.

• James Dyson, DC11 vacuum, 2003; manufactured by Dyson Ltd.; plastic and metal.

• Philippe Starck, Bedside Gun shade, 2005; manufactured by FLOS S.p.A; gold-plated Beretta pistol and paper.

The new design arts galleries feature a tripartite space linked by a dramatic 180-foot-long vista. The entrance gallery is an introductory space that will showcase recent acquisitions or small special exhibitions and also provide visitors with an orientation of the entire installation. The second, transitional gallery concisely illustrates the history of modern design from 1945 to 1980 using highlights from the IMA’s collection. Through the display of a wide range of works, from Modernist chairs designed by Charles and Ray Eames to a Postmodernist sculptural piece in the shape of a foot by Gaetano Pesce, this gallery’s installation demonstrates the enormous changes in design technologies and materials that took place in the decades following World War II. As the demand for modern furnishings rose, designers responded by utilizing emerging technologies and new materials such as plastics and polyurethane to create enticing and innovative forms.

The main gallery, consisting of approximately 9,000 square feet, presents the Museum’s collection of contemporary design from 1980 to the present. An important goal of the new installation is to present modern design in an innovative conceptual and visual manner. The new galleries will allow the visitor to experience the evolution of contemporary design stylistically or chronologically depending on how the visitor chooses to move through the gallery. The layout juxtaposes three larger stylistic movements—Modernism, Expressionism, and Postmodernism—against three generations of designers representing the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. The installation features an architectural treatment of space employing a matrix of articulated bays defined by a coffered ceiling, free-standing walls, floating platforms, and dramatic cantilevered wall cases. The gallery presents masterpieces by established designers such as Ettore Sottsass, Frank Gehry, and Achille Castiglioni, alongside objects by emerging artists such as Tord Boontje, Konstantin Grcic, and the Bouroullec brothers. The installation will demonstrate for visitors the complexity of ideas and the variety of movements that have characterized this contemporary era of design. The new galleries are designed by Phil Lynam and Lara Huchteman of the IMA’s Design Studio, in association with Jeff Daly, formerly Senior Design Advisor to the Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dr. Charles L. Venable, the IMA’s Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO, remarked, “Under Craig Miller’s leadership the IMA’s Department of Design Arts has built a remarkable collection and our pioneering installation positions the IMA as a pivotal leader in the field of modern design. I am especially excited that these new and innovative design galleries represent the first major change to the permanent collection galleries to open under my watch as design is my own scholarly focus. We want to ensure that future visitors to the IMA have an extraordinary experience with contemporary design and I am very grateful to our donors for making these new galleries possible.” Major donors to the initiative are: Otto N. Frenzel III, Steve and Livia Russell, June M. McCormack, Kay F. Koch, James E. and Patricia J. LaCrosse, The National Endowment for the Arts, Penny and Russell Fortune, Tom and Nora Hiatt, Ann M. and Chris Stack, Jane Fortune and Robert Hesse, and William L. Fortune Jr. and Joseph D. Blakely.

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November 22, 2013

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