Letters and Opinion and Attractions

Museums can't change canal alone

August 28, 2010

As a longtime downtown resident and property owner, and frequent user of the Central Canal, I read with great interest the [Aug. 16] article “Missing the action: Museums struggle to capture foot traffic from busy canal."

However, I was puzzled about the way this topic was presented. Clearly the four cultural attractions mentioned are the gems of the canal, with each one bringing people specifically to their building to see their exhibits and experience their programs.

As someone who is often on the canal running, walking or on my Segway, I agree with the Indiana Historical Society’s CEO, John Herbst, when he observes that many canal users, especially at this time of year, are there for physical exercise—and a museum visit is not part of their plan while jogging or walking.

It seems to me that it is not the responsibility of the canal district cultural attractions—nor within their capabilities—to try to create the ambience that San Antonio’s canal provides (which is much more akin to what Massachusetts Avenue has achieved here in Indianapolis).

Too, the reporter failed to mention that the IHS, the Eiteljorg and the Indiana State Museum all offer visitors great little cafes adjacent to the canal, and that they also collaborate in programming, such as this year’s July 4th Canal Fest, the Mexican cultural tradition of Las Posadas in December (a procession which starts at the History Center and ends at the Eiteljorg), or the 14 very popular Thursday evening Concerts on the Canal at the Indiana History Center. None of these efforts were mentioned in the article as important efforts of the canal attractions.

To achieve San Antonio’s mix of retail, dining and nightlife would mean that other substantial real estate not owned or controlled by the cultural attractions mentioned would have to be developed—something we’re all waiting and hoping for.

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Joseph F. Miller

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