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Lilly gives $1 million for art museum initiative

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The Eli Lilly and Co. Foundation has awarded a $1 million grant to the Indianapolis Museum of Art to help fund a five-year program focused on bringing more visitors and improving their experience.

IMA Director and CEO Charles L. Venable announced the grant at the museum's annual meeting on May 14. The program, named "The Visitor Centered Approach: Reimagining the IMA," is designed to “increase and strengthen local and regional participation in museum programming,” according to the museum.

What does that mean, practically?

“Greater emphasis on understanding our visitors,” said Preston Bautista, the IMA’s deputy director for public programs. “And more participatory experiences.”

Included in the first year of the grant will be enhancements to the “Matisse, Life in Color” exhibition scheduled for October through January, including iPad-based technology, in-gallery musical performances, and teacher packets.

With help from the grant, efforts will be made to broaden the exhibition’s reach through partnerships with other community groups.

“We’re really trying to strengthen our relationships from K-12 and with higher education schools,” Bautista said. “Building direct relationships with teachers has been and will be a primary goal.”

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  • IMA Wasteful
    There are many other organizations in town that could make better use of this grant than IMA. I have found them to be wasteful, aloof and noncaring about serving the visitors.
  • Start with paying members
    A simple place to start would be creating a more personalized and engaging experience for individuals who voluntarily pay dues and become members instead of treating them with an outdated "one size fits all" email blast approach.
  • Good news
    Happy to see this - we have a great institution in the IMA although it has not been as successful as hoped in drawing the amount of visitors it should.

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