A Trip to the Eiteljorg Museum

The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art offers free admission for IUPUI students and faculty

Located within walking distance from IUPUI is the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. It is one of the major art museums located in Indianapolis and is home to paintings, sculptures, clothing and more. The building’s unique geometric structure and the famous Whitetail Deer sculpture located on its lawn make it easily recognizable. Another factor that makes this museum stand out is the fact that it offers free admission for all IUPUI students and faculty. 

For an adult admission ticket, it would typically cost a visitor $18 to gain access to their exhibits. The Eiteljorg Museum seeks to reward IUPUI students who are looking to enrich themselves in cultures different from their own by giving them an opportunity to do so for free. To take advantage of this opportunity, all a student has to do is show their student ID at the main desk upon entering the museum. Bryan Corbin, the Public Relations Manager of the museum, offered some background into why the museum shares this opportunity for students. 

“Free admission is offered to the IUPUI community because of the Eiteljorg’s longstanding working relationship with the IUPUI Museum Studies program, and because the IUPUI campus is the museum’s good neighbor,” Corbin said. 

The museum offers plenty of galleries and artworks that serve to share a culture and understanding of an experience that might be different from one’s own. 

“The mission of the Eiteljorg is to inspire an appreciation and understanding of the diverse cultures of the North American West and of the Indigenous peoples of North America,” Corbin said. 

One of the permanent exhibits at the museum is the “Expressions of Life: Native Art in North America” exhibit, which offers a glimpse into the lives of Native Americans. Included in this exhibit are artwork pieces, sculptures and pieces of clothing. A section of this exhibit focuses on Native Americans of the Great Lakes region.

Katrina Mitten, from the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, is a Native American artist famous for her embroidery and beadwork. Her artwork is on display in the upstairs gallery and some of her art pieces are offered for sale in the gift shop. Mitten was born and raised in Indiana, which is her tribal homeland.

Attitudes: The West in American Art” is another permanent exhibit. This exhibit offers a diverse look at the West from the perspective of multiple viewpoints. One piece of art on display, “The Golden Mountain, Arriving San Francisco,” shares a look into the migration of Chinese workers to the West during the Gold Rush era. Also on display is an artwork that offers a look into the Japanese internment camps, painted by Jishiro Miyauchi, entitled “Heart Mountain, Wyoming, 1945.” Many different groups of people have settled in the West over time, and this exhibit shares those perspectives.

Coming March 6 2023 is a traveling exhibit entitled “Changing Views: The Photography of Dorothea Lange.” Dorothea Lange was a photographer and photojournalist who is best known for her Depression-era works. One of her most famous pieces, “Migrant Mother,” will be on display in the exhibit, as well as more than 30 other works. Changing Views: The Photography of Dorothea Lange.” Dorothea Lange was a photographer and photojournalist who is best known for her Depression-era works. One of her most famous pieces, “Migrant Mother,” will be on display in the exhibit, as well as more than 30 other works. 

“The exhibition also includes work by four of today’s contemporary photographers,” said Corbin. “They focused on the theme of social change, as Lange was in the 1930s.”

Another key feature of the museum is that it offers free Wi-Fi to its patrons as well as a peaceful café to relax at. A student could spend the day in the café, without distraction and free-of-charge. 

Students or faculty with children or younger siblings looking for a fun and entertaining way to spend the day will find the lower level floor of the museum perfect. On the bottom level of the museum is a discovery area called the Nina Mason Pulliam Education Center, built around the full family experience. There are creative and hands-on experiences that encourage critical thinking. In this center are stations that teach about experiences in farming, science and cooking. There is also a quiet sensory room for children to use, as well. 

With the IUPUI campus splitting in the upcoming academic year, the question on their continuation of this free service was also raised. But according to Corbin, the museum will continue to offer free admission to students and faculty of both Indiana University and Purdue University campuses with presentation of a campus ID. 

Corbin stated that only 1,131 students visited from the IUPUI campus in 2022. According to the IUPUI website, over 20,000 students currently attend IUPUI, both as graduates and undergraduates. Students, faculty and staff should strive to increase this number by enriching their lives with culture, knowledge and a better appreciation for those who inhabited this land before us. 

Alyssa Work (she/her) is a senior majoring in Communication. She is also a social media intern, and this is her first year on the Campus Citizen team.

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