Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Indianapolis Museum of Art

The Indianapolis Museum of Art: Edmund Tarbell, Richard B. Gruelle, Frank W. Benson, William Merritt Chase, John Sharman, John Cotman Sell, Rembrandt, Jan Brueghel the Elder
I’ve never been to Indiana, let alone to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, so this is not a first person account. It is rather the happy result of one of my art browsing habits, using the Museum Listing feature of the Athenaeum online art resource to browse a skimming of various museums’ collections (see my post on The Athenaeum).

The Athenaeum’s page for the Indianapolis Museum of Art caught my attention with pieces by John Singer Sargent, Edmund Tarbell and William Merritt Chase.

On arriving at the museum’s site, I immediately clicked through to their collection of American Painting and Sculpture to 1945, and from there started browsing through the little interactive slide presentation for American Impressionism, one of my favorite schools of painting.

Though not the most convenient browsing arrangement (a simple page of thumbnails would be better, but museums seem to love these widgets), it is still a way into the collection, clicking on the thumbnails to particular piece, then clicking through to a page of works by that artist in the museum’s collection.

To my delight, I found that not only does the museum have a terrific collection of American Impressionism, which is deep for some artists, like William Merritt Chase, they also have a nice method of presentation for works in the collection.

Thumbnails are linked to a decently sized image that opens in a pop-up, instead of the tiny cramped Zooming windows favored by many museums, letting you get a much better feeling for the work as a whole.

In addition they often have several photos of the same work, some of which have color and value reference cards in the photos, making it possible to get an accurate take on the color of the image. What a great feature! So many images of artworks on the web are off-color, even those posted by the most prestigious museums.

My exploration of the site has been brief so far, and the images I’ve chosen to highlight are more representative of my own preferences than the museum’s collections, but I was also impressed with their holdings in European Painting and Sculpture.

One might wish for a list based browsing feature, allowing an easier grasp of the holdings in a particular area, but you can search the collections for specific artist, or using broader terms like, oh, say… “American Impressionism“.

The collection online looks well worth investigating in depth, and of course, for those who live close enough to travel to the museum in person, a treat to visit.

(Images above: Edmund Tarbell, Richard B. Gruelle, Frank W. Benson, William Merritt Chase, John Sharman, John Cotman Sell, Rembrandt, Jan Brueghel the Elder.)

8 thoughts on “The Indianapolis Museum of Art

  1. Lydia

    I teach a 5 week art appreciation class, and sometimes, 4 of our 5 days are spent lecturing at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. (one hour in a lecture room, which they make available for those who book them in enough time) and 2 hours in the museum.

    I am glad they make works available on the site, because not everything is available or visible at the time in the museum.

    At the museum, I am most impressed by a little room explaining the studio experience between the 14 and 1500’s. They have a glass covered table with bowls of pigment (including cochineal insects) that explain where natural colors come from. They have a similar table in the ‘fashion’ section of the museum, adding touchable dyed fabrics, also explaining where the fabric comes from, with real samples of the origins (cotton, silk, etc.)

    I was excited to hear you feature the IMA!

  2. Erin Fickert-Rowland

    I have to agree with Lydia in that I was very excited to read a feature on the Indianapolis Museum of Art. I went to school in Indiana, and that was the closest thing to a real museum for me! Suprisingly, it has a beautiful collection for a slightly smaller city’s Art Museum. Indianapolis is a wonderful city if you ever have the chance to visit!

  3. David Teter

    Looks like a great Museum site… will have to explore it further.

    I’m probably over thinking it but am a bit confused with the color and value reference cards. Does it mean the ones with the cards are the more accurate images, if so why bother with ones that are off. The Edward Hopper ‘New York, New Haven, and Hartford” for example.

  4. Charley Parker Post author

    The ones with the cards simply allow someone who is concerned about the color accuracy of the image to compare it with known values on a calibrated monitor. Not that useful to the casual observer, but valuable to someone looking to judge the colors accurately. Sorry if I gave the impression it was of more use to the average visitor, I just get frustrated with judging the accuracy of art images by comparison and guesswork. I tend to adjust many of the images of art from museums that I post on Lines and Colors based on my personal experience with them, or comparison with images in books whose reproduction values I trust.

  5. Cody Haddix

    I’m a huge fan of the site and was extremely suprised to see the IMA on here! I am a student at Herron School of Art and Design and I live about 15 minutes away from the IMA. I’ve visited the museum over 20 times in the past year alone and am always excited to go back. I love most of the exhibits but I wish that they had a larger Mediterranean and Contemporary collection. That might be asking for a bit much because the IMA is completely free! It is a beautiful museum that is definitely work checking out!!

  6. Charley Parker Post author

    Thanks, Cody. I’ve written before about the delights to be found at smaller museums. They are often remarkable gems, but are overshadowed by the larger, more well known institutions. I’m a frequent visitor to the Delaware Art Museum, and I find that you can sometimes develop a deeper appreciation for the works in a smaller museum that you visit often than those in the larger, sometimes overwhelming collections of the largest museums.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>