In March of last year, the new director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Charles Venable, cut 29 jobs to relieve a budget problem. While the museum’s endowment is one of the 10 largest in the country, Venable apparently still believes more must be done to ensure the financial success of the institution, namely, moving from free general admission to $18.
The new director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s short tenure has been marked by a spate of departures.
In the last few years the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) has developed a deserved national and international reputation. The IMA’s 100 acre Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, which opened in 2010, is one of the largest contemporary sculpture parks in the world, and one of the only such parks with a commitment to contemporary and non-permanent installation art. The following year, the IMA was chosen to present the US pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale, arguably one of the most important art shows in the world. Their 2011 exhibition of outsider artist Thornton Dial represented the first-ever retrospective of his work, and received widespread acclaim, including glowing reviews in the New York Times and Time magazine. These are exceptional accomplishments for any museum, much less one offering free general admission and located in a state whose population is smaller than the five boroughs of New York City — the IMA is simply an anomaly in the United States. And this spring the museum and its new director, Charles L. Venable, are back in the spotlight, but not for more accolades.