Eiteljorg Contemporary Gallery
The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art is located in downtown Indianapolis. Commissioned by Harrison Eiteljorg, the museum opened its doors in 1989. It is still the only one of its kind in the Midwest and one of only two museums of Native American and Western Art east of the Mississippi. The museum houses three main collections: the Native American Collection, the Western Collection, and the Contemporary Collection. It is renowned for having one of the leading collections of Native American contemporary art in the world.
In 2005, the Eiteljorg Museum expanded its public spaces and created the contemporary art wing. Each year, the museum sponsors an emerging Native American artist through the Contemporary Art Fellowship. Since its establishment in 1999, the Fellowship has awarded over $1,125,000 to emerging artists. Recipients of the award range from sculptors and painters to photographers and performance artists. They represent numerous tribes from across the country.
The museum encourages visitors to listen to the new voices that contemporary Native American art brings to the museum. The contemporary galleries are platforms for artists, as representatives of their various Native communities, to spark dialogue. The Eiteljorg calls their exhibition openings "Conversations." Many of the artworks on display provide commentary on controversies related to past and present treatment of Native Americans. This space was carved out within the Eiteljorg Museum for that purpose. Through the Fellowship and the gallery space, the museum exhibits fresh Native American voices and starts conversations through art.
The Eiteljorg Museum also uses community programming and special exhibitions to keep the conversations going. Exhibits like "Out West" (an LGBT+ exhibit) and "Red. Black. Related through History" (an exhibit about the shared history of African and Native Americans) demonstrate how the Eiteljorg encourages visitors to consider lesser-known Native histories. Each summer, the Eiteljorg hosts the Indian Market and Festival in Indianapolis to celebrate Native American culture and crafts. In its building, the museum has hosted film screenings and speakers. Online, it has a strong social media presence and publishes a blog. The Eiteljorg also publishes supporting catalogues to bring the Fellowship artists' conversation pieces to a broader audience.