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Indianapolis Museum of Art names its 152-acre campus for first time
Newfields various performance venues, like The Amphitheater, host film screenings, concerts and more. Image courtesy of Newfields.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN.- The Indianapolis Museum of Art announced today that it will unite the diverse elements of its 152-acre campus—the IMA, The Garden, Lilly House, performance spaces and The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres—into a holistic cultural campus called Newfields.

Newfields, a Place for Nature and the Arts, will serve as a community destination offering dynamic, relevant and social experiences with both art and nature. The IMA, The Garden, Lilly House and Fairbanks Park will continue to exist as key attractions at Newfields, which will debut with a new website in early October.

“Our diverse landscape is unlike any other in the Midwest, and now is the time that we fully embrace all that we have to offer the community as a one-of-a-kind institution,” said Dr. Charles L. Venable, The Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO. “We have an exceptional art collection and extensive galleries surrounded by a historic estate—a National Historic Landmark featuring grand architecture, a working greenhouse and orchard; beautiful gardens that host exhibitions and outdoor festivals; performance spaces that welcome guests for film screenings and concerts; and a Park with meadows for outdoor concerts, a 35-acre lake, hiking trails and sculptures by contemporary artists from around the world. In addition, the Miller House and Garden in Columbus, Ind.—one of the nation’s most highly regarded examples of mid-century Modernist residences—extends our campus outside of Indianapolis.

“We are embracing our natural resources like never before, while staying true to our legacy as an art museum,” continued Venable.

The newly unified campus is an extension of the organization’s mission, envisioned by the founders of the IMA, formally known as the Art Association of Indianapolis, in 1883, and accelerated in 1966 when the Lilly family donated Oldfields to the Museum as a place for Hoosiers to escape the city to enjoy nature and the arts.

“The name Newfields is a celebration of our past and a commitment to our future,” said Venable. “We could not be who we are today without the Lilly’s generous donation of the Oldfields estate, and generations of dedicated supporters of both art and nature. Newfields is a nod to our legacy as the ‘new’ property that the Lilly’s added to the original estate, but also a commitment to continually explore new fields of study, pursue new fields of inquiry and to continually expand the experiences available to our community.”

The development of the Newfields identity began in spring 2015 following a $10 million gift from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. when the Board of Governors refocused the IMA’s mission to be about lives in our community, instead of objects, and approved a ten-year strategic plan.

The gift also provided the seed money to experiment and test new kinds of programming, such as the new Spring Blooms experience, which featured an integrated, seasonal celebration across the entire campus—a first in IMA history, and a vital component of future Newfields experiences. Along with the Spring Blooms garden exhibition, the IMA opened the Beer Garden at the Madeline F. Elder Greenhouse and showcased the natural world in the galleries through three exhibitions: Audubon: Drawn to Nature, Paula McCartney: Bird Watching and The Birds of Celeste Bousier-Mougenot: A Film by Ariane Michel. The integrated spring experiences attracted new audiences: over 50 percent of guests were between the ages of 18 and 44—the largest segment was 25–34—and ethnic diversity was significantly higher than prior springs.

Following the success of the spring experiences, Newfields will be debuting new experiences this fall including:

• Director’s Choice: Gifts of Art 2017 opening September 29. Curated by Venable, the new annual exhibition will include many works of art on view for the first time, including paintings, sculptures and fashion design, emphasizing the IMA’s broad collection of art across history and disciplines, and the generosity of its donors.

• City as Canvas: New York City Graffiti from the 70s & 80s opening October 7. Developed in collaboration with the Museum of the City of New York, this exhibition will feature more than 100 works from the Martin Wong Collection and chronicles the origins of graffiti and its evolution from a creative outlet to an accepted form of art. Events surrounding this exhibition will include a concert by hip-hop pioneer Doug E. Fresh; a panel with artists featured in the exhibition; a themed Family Day; and film screenings of Wild Style and Fresh Dressed.

• Portraits of Our City opening October 27. This photography exhibition will celebrate the culture of Indianapolis. This summer, the IMA’s photography team traveled the city to capture portraits of local residents and ask them a simple question: where would you like to wake up tomorrow? The recording of their answers and their portraits will be featured in the exhibition, produced in partnership with WFYI-FM.

• Winterlights from November 19 through January 7. This expanded holiday experience and new annual tradition will run nightly (except Mondays), offering a dazzling nighttime experience: a magical stroll through The Garden, illuminated by a million lights. Included in the multi-sensory, strolling experience is a choreographed light show on the Lilly House lawn, food and drink stations, fire pits for roasting s’mores and holiday music. The experience will continue the beloved Christmas at Lilly House tradition with holiday décor throughout the historic mansion, and Karl Unnasch’s 50-foot-tall tree of toys—Playtime in Indy—will return in a new location. Tickets go on sale early October, and discounts are available for tickets purchased online.

Newfields brand strategy, identity system and the identification of the core tenets of a Newfields’ experience, were developed by Indianapolis based agency, Young & Laramore.

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