Newfields plans fall festival, more parking, outdoor sculpture, other upgrades to campus

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The Newfields campus at 4000 Michigan Road.

Newfields, the art and nature campus on 38th Street that includes the Indianapolis Museum of Art, is planning an array of projects to upgrade its offerings and public access, highlighted by the launch an annual autumnal festival this fall that will include culinary attractions, horticulture displays, musical performances and films.

Plans for the Harvest festival were announced Saturday morning along with several other initiatives for the Newfields campus, including the addition of 200 surface parking spaces and transformation of the 1939 Lilly Family Playhouse into a culinary arts center. And a $3 million gift from donor Kent Hawryluck will help create outdoor installations of art in the heart of the 152-acre campus.

Plans for the Harvest festival, culinary center and parking project grew out of an $8 million grant from Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc., awarded in late 2018, to stage more large-scale seasonal events on the campus, like the annual Winterlights attraction created in 2017.

The plans also come on top of a $10 million grant announced last month from the Indianapolis-based Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation to improve the 100-acre park that opened in June 2010 behind IMA, named Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres

Other grants and gifts announced Saturday included:

—a $500,000 matching gift from the Indianapolis Department of Public Works to help Newfields better connect with neighboring areas.

—a $100,000 gift from former trustee Edgar Fehnel to create a new pollinator meadow in Fairbanks Park. 

—a $100,000 grant from Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, which will combine with the Fairbanks grant to tackle conservations and sustainability issues at the 100-acre park.

“Newfields is committed to strategic, impactful and sustainable growth that benefits the Indianapolis community. With these key infrastructure improvements, new contemporary art commissions and the addition of a Harvest festival, we will be able to welcome more people to Newfields for exceptional experiences with art and nature,” said Newfields CEO Charles Venable in a media release.

Construction on the announced improvements will begin this year and last through 2025. They help solidify the long-term vision for Newfields as “a community destination offering dynamic, relevant and social experiences with both art and nature."

In addition to the museum proper, the Newfields grounds include the museum gardens, the Lilly House, and the 100 Acres park.

Development of the Newfields identity began in the spring of 2015, when the IMA’s board of governors refocused the museum’s mission to emphasize “impacting lives through exceptional experiences with art and nature,” and approved a 10-year strategic plan.

The IMA in December 2015 received a $10 million gift from Lilly Endowment to create an endowed innovation fund. That set the stage for seven research studies and development of a 30-year master land-use plan, which was wrapped up in 2017. 

The fledgling Harvest festival is expected to attract 100,000 visitors per year by 2023, according to the museum. The inaugural festival will feature as a centerpiece the 2016 work “All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins” by Yayoi Kusama. It is described as an “infinity mirror room.”

To create 200 more surface parking spaces for festival events, Newfields will convert 78,000-square-feet of existing turf adjacent the intersection of 38th Street and Michigan Road into “reinforced turf.” The surface of the turf will continue to be grass.

The culinary arts center will house the museum’s recently founded Culinary Arts Department. The center will act as a preparation area for culinary initiatives across the Newfields campus, such as “Pop Up: Tea House” currently adjacent to the IMA galleries, as well as for culinary workshops, wine tastings and dining experiences. 

Hawryluk’s gift will found The Hawryluk Collection of Art in Nature and The Hawryluk Sculpture Green, for which Newfields will commission temporary and permanent outdoor works.

The grant from the Indianapolis Department of Public Works will help ease public access to Newfields, which is located on the northwest corner of 38th Street and Michigan Road, by adding a multi-use path wide enough for both cyclists and pedestrians.

The path will begin at the 38th Street entrance, continue around to the Michigan Road entrance, and then down to the Central Canal Towpath. Crosswalks will be installed at 42nd Street and Michigan Road. 

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