Collections

With a vast collection of works, spanning 5,000 years, the IMA collection offers significant holdings of African, American, Asian, European, and contemporary art, as well as a growing collection of design arts. The collections comprise paintings, sculpture, decorative and industrial design, prints, drawings and photographs, as well as textiles and fashion arts.

To explore temporary exhibitions in the IMA Galleries, visit the Exhibitions section of the website.

AFRICAN ART

The Eiteljorg Suite of African Art, located on Floor 3, features more than 400 objects. Africa is the world’s second-largest continent and the cradle of humankind. Known for an abundance of natural resources, Africa’s many nations are homes to deserts, equatorial forests, savannahs, mountain ranges, and wetlands. The great Sahara Desert divides the continent both physically and culturally. In the region north of the Sahara, Islam has had a vast, centuries-old influence. In sub-Saharan Africa, most of the hundreds of languages are related to one another. Despite immense cultural and religious diversity, traditional belief systems among Africans share many significant connections because of these two great historic influences. The Eiteljorg Suite of African Art celebrates the beauty and richness of these links.

The arrangement of these works of art in the galleries highlights connected themes such as power, the importance of ancestors, and life transitions. The majority of these objects were created and used in traditional practices during the middle decades of the 20th century, although some made of durable materials like stone, terracotta, and metal are hundreds of years old. A special section is devoted to Harrison Eiteljorg (1903–1997) and his remarkable role in building one of the most celebrated collections of African art in America.

The reinstallation is made possible by the generous support of Eli Lilly and Company Foundation.

AMERICAN PAINTING AND SCULPTURE TO 1945

What is American about American art? Visitors will find more than one answer to that question in the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Noyes Suite of American Art galleries, which houses nearly 200 works of art created before 1945.

The collection is located on Floor 1 of the Krannert Pavilion and is divided into several areas focusing on stylistic movements from colonial portraiture to modernism. Visitors can view works from Early American, Indiana and Turn of the Century artists, as well as American Impressionists, Urban Realists, and American Modernists.

During a tour of the American collection, visitors will find a portrait of George Washington (1788) representing his military victory at Princeton, New Jersey, during the Revolutionary War. Visitors are encouraged to sit in front of a large stained glass window from the studio of Louis Comfort Tiffany titled Angel of the Resurrection (1904) which was commissioned by the widow of President Benjamin Harrison. Georgia O’Keeffe and Edward Hopper are well represented within the collection with multiple canvases on display including O’Keeffe’s large floral painting Jimson Weed (1936) which hung in the Elizabeth Arden Salon in New York City. Jacob Lawrence’s Untitled (The Birth) (1938) and Horace Pippin’s The Blue Tiger (1933) are some of the important artists the visitor will see in the museum’s African American collection.

ASIAN ART

The Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields showcases, through innovative displays, one of the nation's largest and most significant collections of Asian art. More than 400 works of art in the gallery provide a panorama of more than 4,000 years of Asian art from China, Japan, Korea, India, Tibet, and West and Southeast Asia. The galleries are designed to appeal to all ages, interest levels, and degrees of experience with Asian art and culture. Some feature traditional chronological and geographic presentations of art, while others group works by material, subject matter, and themes, such as tradition and continuity; the impact of technology on art; fakes and forgeries; and the characteristics of wares from specific kiln sites in China. The collection includes:

  • An encyclopedic collection of Chinese art, including ancient bronze ritual vessels, jades, ceramics, textiles and paintings, with special strength in paintings of the Ming and Qing dynasties.
  • A Japanese collection that features one of the finest collections of Edo-period painting in the U.S. and that also includes ceramics, lacquer ware, woodblock prints, sculpture and paintings. Contemporary ceramics by Japan's leading artists are also shown on display.
  • Selections from The Colonel Jeff W. Boucher Collection of weavings by the Baluchi people of Iran and Afghanistan—one of the world's finest such collections—are on display.

CONTEMPORARY ART

The Museum’s wide-ranging collection of contemporary art encompasses over 900 works created since 1945 in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, drawing, prints, video, and installations. The rapidly growing collection comprises works created by established as well as emerging artists. The contemporary galleries, which span the Floor 4 of the Museum, present a range of rotating displays of works drawn from the permanent collection, in addition to temporary special exhibitions.

The contemporary collection includes outstanding examples of Abstract Expressionism, Color Field painting, Minimalism, Op and Pop Art, installation art, and video and light-based works. Works by established artists such as Vito Acconci, Alexander Calder, Robert Indiana, Donald Judd, Joan Mitchell, Bruce Nauman, Robert Watts, David Smith, and James Turrell are included alongside the work of more recent artists such as John Currin, Omer Fast, Tim Hawkinson, Cindy Sherman, and Kara Walker. Among the many highlights of the collection are works that have been especially commissioned for the Museum by artists such as Ghada Amer, Tara Donovan, Kate Gilmore, Robert Irwin, Sol LeWitt, Maya Lin, Nam June Paik, Heather Rowe, and Do-Ho Suh. 

In addition to the permanent collection galleries, there are two special exhibition spaces that host a diverse array of temporary exhibitions. The Carmen and Mark Holeman Video Gallery is dedicated to the display of recent work in video, while the McCormack Forefront Galleries consist of 4,000 square feet devoted to exhibitions that present recent contemporary art by international artists, offering a constantly changing view of major developments in the art world.

Beyond the galleries, The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres: is one of the largest museum art parks in the country and the only one to feature the ongoing commission of site-specific artworks. Located on 100 acres of woodlands, wetlands, a lake and meadows adjacent to the main campus, Fairbanks Park opened in June 2010, with eight site-specific inaugural works commissioned from emerging and mid-career artists. The Newfields campus also includes additional outdoor sculptures from the contemporary collection, including examples by Barbara Hepworth, Robert Indiana, and Mark de Suvero.

CONTEMPORARY DESIGN

The recently renovated contemporary design galleries house more than 400 objects focusing on design after 1980. Spanning nearly 10,000 square feet, this addition to the IMA’s permanent collection is one of the largest displays of contemporary design in the world and among the first surveys of recent trends in this dynamic field.

EUROPEAN PAINTING AND SCULPTURE TO 1945

The European galleries feature painting, sculpture, prints, and decorative arts from the 12th through the early 20th centuries, including works by Old Masters and Impressionists as well as artists of the modern era. The collection offers a rich and textured experience of European art, filled with imaginative stories, intriguing portraits, religious themes, and scenes of city and country life.

PRINTS, DRAWINGS, AND PHOTOGRAPHS

With more than 26,000 works on paper, from medieval manuscripts to contemporary photographs, IMA’s collection of prints, drawings, and photographs is its largest permanent collection. The collection includes:

  • One of nation’s leading collections of watercolors, prints, and drawings by Joseph Mallord William Turner, master of English landscape painting. The collection includes 3,000 prints, 43 drawings and watercolors, and three major oils spanning more than 60 years of the artist's life.

TEXTILE & FASHION ART

The first item acquired for the Museum’s collection of textile and fashion arts was an Irish embroidery, purchased in 1888. Today, the collection comprises approximately 7,000 items and represents virtually all of the world’s traditions in fabric. Major collecting in this area began in 1906, with the purchase of 100 Chinese textiles and costumes.

Among the objects from Asia are textiles and costumes from China, kimonos and Buddhist robes and furnishings from Japan, Kashmir shawls, ceremonial hangings from India, and a large group of textiles from Indonesia. West and Central Asian holdings include: rugs and kilims from Iran, Ottoman embroideries from Turkey, and costumes and ceremonial textiles from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In 1996, the late Colonel Jeff W. Boucher’s collection of 65 Baluchi rugs and weavings was donated to the Museum. Later, this collection was augmented by eleven pieces, making it the largest and most comprehensive in the United States. The IMA Galleries also houses a significant African textile arts collection, with a particular concentration in rugs, costumes, and embroideries from Morocco.

European holdings feature silks from the late 16th to 19th centuries, a lace collection spanning 500 years, and a large group of 19th century paisley shawls woven in England. Also represented are European fashions dating from the late 18th to the 20th centuries, as well as couture by prominent designers such as Dior, Balenciaga, Chanel, Gaultier, and Versace.

The North American textile collection features noteworthy Indiana quilts and coverlets, as well as fashions by designers Norman Norell, Bill Blass, and Halston, and the legendary Rudi Gernreich. Central American holdings include Guatemalan textiles and a significant collection of about 360 Panamanian Molas.

Image credit: Do-Ho Suh, Floor, 1997–2000. Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, Ann M. Stack Fund for Contemporary Art, 2004.152 © Do-Ho Suh.