Art museum closing design-centered gift shop

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The Indianapolis Museum of Art will close its design-centered gift shop next year to make way for a display about the Miller house in Columbus, Ind.

The IMA's design shop opened in October 2008 to complement a growing permanent collection in advance of the March 2009 opening of a European design exhibition. The shop offered a full array of iconic objects, from an $18 fly swatter designed by Phillippe Starck to a mid-century Charles Eames chair for $679.

Spokeswoman Katie Zarich said the museum will start discounting items in the design center on Jan. 4 as it prepares to merge the inventory with the regular gift shop.

The museum will convert the 1,600-square-foot space to accommodate information about the Miller house, designed in 1957 by architect Eero Saarinen for businessman J. Irwin Miller. The first public tours begin May 10.

Miller, who died in 2004 at age 95, built the former Cummins Engine Co. into a Fortune 500 company. He also established Cummins Foundation, which paid architects to design public buildings and transform the town of Columbus into a showcase for modern architecture. His wife, Xenia, lived there until her death in 2008.

Miller's children donated the house, which was their parents' main residence, to the IMA that year.


  • Looking forward to Miller House.
    I applaud the IMA for attempting a design oriented store even if it didn't work out. Even with the design center closing, I think the offerings at the museum's shops has greatly improved in the past few years to now be on par with many other larger museums. Their products are much nicer and more diverse. One question though for IBJ...is the design center space really 1600 sq ft as it says in the article? I very much doubt that.

    With that said, I have to agree with Harvey..enough with the Max bashing on every single IMA story. Marty, If you have a problem with the museum, which you clearly do, start your own blog so that you and every other bitter ex-employee can sympathize with each other. Either do that, or get on with your life. If I spent every waking minute of my life bashing my ex-girlfriend and telling people about everything that I felt was wrong with her I think after a while people would start to see why she left me.

    Sorry about the design center closing, but very much looking forward to the Miller House.
  • Harvey We need Straight Talk
    There would not be so much negative responses if the IMA would be honest about why there closing the Design Center. It never made money and it was costing the museum significant revenue.
  • Duh!
    If the IMA couldn't do great business over the holidays with a big name show, it might as well shut its doors. Let's see what happens going forward...
  • Today
    BTW, IMA was packed today and doing great business at the Warhol show, yet another great exhibit at IMA.

    The Nourish Cafe and the gift whop were also doing brisk business.
    • Good Grief
      The IMA malcontents need to start their own blog and quit turning every article about IMA into a chance to grind their axe.

    • "Earned" revenue
      As a former employee of the IMA, I must agree with puzzled. Max always talked about earned revenue for the IMA whether it was through IMA Labs, the Design Center, the restaurant, the Miller House, you name it. IMA Labs supposedly earned some money according to Zarich in another IBJ article (although I just think it was creative accounting), but how much did all these other earned revenue ventures lose? It is a shell game and the board needs to wake up!
    • Another question
      Chris, methinks you doth protest too much in your response. If you look closely, you will see that both sentences in my prior comment end with question marks. I would not consider that "railing." Those are called â??questions.â?? Also, the Design Center was indeed originally intended to be a business venture (selling to the trade --- albeit with no plan) which has slowly devolved into a gift shop and now into nothing.

      Here is another question: If the Miller House is "one of the museum's most important acquisitions in the past few decades,â?? why has the original curator-sponsored restoration plan been shelved in lieu of opening it sooner?
    • What does Chris Think now
      It is not a conspiracy against Max. The museum has real problems many caused by Max and this Design Center Closing is just a small part of it. There needs to be full disclosure by the IMA on everything if they want to regain the trust of the community.
    • Here We Go Again
      Looks like this is going to turn into another manufactured bash Max fest. Great.
    • There is more to it
      The Design center has been a White Elephant and it is about time it is closing. It should have closed two years ago. After I left the museum a lunch discussion with someone with direct knowledge laid out the Design Center Problems. First it cost twice as much to setup than what was budgeted and then it never made any money. According to my source it was a major drag on the the profits of all the museum retail programs. The museum has laid off numerous staff over the past two years one would think that a drain on the budget as the Desgn Center would be the first to go. The Museum Board should to an in depth study into the Design Center Financing and post it on line. Let's all see what a great business mind Max has
    • you be the judge
      Readers can judge for themselves: http://www.ibj.com/ima-s-new-design-store-bucks-frugality-trend/PARAMS/article/2158.
    • Your Conspiracy Theories Are Absurd
      Puzzled, I am tempted to suggest that you should have chosen the name "confused" for your screen name. First, the "Design Center" at the IMA is simply a gift shop, it is not an "initiative," nor is it a "program," if that is what you meant to write. Again, what is closing is simply an auxiliary gift-shop (the museum's main gift shop will remain open and sell several of the items now sold at the Design Center). As for why it is closing, the article answers the question--to make room for an exhibit about one of the museum's most important acquisitions in the past few decades. Second, what are all the supposed "unplanned, unsustainable, failed initiatives" at the IMA which you are railing about? It is always amusing to read a post in which the author makes a provocative and sweeping comment without citing any examples as it usually indicates the comment is baseless.
    • But whats' the real reason?
      But WHY is the Design Center closing? Perhaps another unplanned, unsustainable, failed IMA initiative?

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