Day 25, Thursday, August 9, 2018
I went to the Indianapolis Art Museum! But first, I must try to explain the names… Newfields is the official name of the Indianapolis Art Museum complex; it is named for the newer house built on the site that the museum is on. The art museum is just one building on the site, though. In 1966, Ruth Lilly and Josiah K. Lilly, the younger generation of the pharmaceutical king family, donated the estate to the Art Association of Indianapolis for their museum complex. The donation included the country homes of the family; the original home was named Oldfields, and the new house was Newfields!
The Newfields complex includes the Oldfields gardens, the Oldfields Mansion (also called Lilly House), which was accessible through a self-guided tour, and the Indianapolis Art Museum, the Clowes Pavilion (another mansion which is currently closed for restoration) as well as the 100 acre Virginia B Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, which I did not have time to visit. Admission is $18, which is high, especially after they had no admission fee for years, but it is incredible! I feel like that $18 was good for two days, but I can’t remember, and I couldn’t turn up any mention of it on their website.
I started with the gardens, figuring that I could spend some time outside earlier in the day before it got unbearably hot. Well, to be honest, it was already unbearably hot, but I am nothing if not dedicated to my touristing.
The gardens were designed for the original owners of the home; and include a sunken formal garden, a ravine garden, an orchard, a fountain, the Grand Allée (vista) and a border garden. When the Lilly family purchased the estate in 1933, the gardens were mature and thankfully the family didn’t change the design of the gardens. It is incredible to have these historic gardens available to the public!
There is a lot to see, and outdoor art installations also add a touch of whimsy to the gardens. I have to admit though, the brightly colored, nearly life sized bears, alligators, meerkats, turtles and other animals scattered around added a bit too much whimsy for my taste. I prefer my art a bit more traditional. It was fun to wander around and check everything out though!