I think the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science is one of the most impressive museums I’ve ever had a chance to visit, and I’ve visited a lot of museums. Sure, there are bigger museums, like Chicago or Indianapolis, but for its size, the Evansville is filled with some notable and important art and artifacts.
I had a chance to visit the Evansville Museum with John Streetman, the director,who filled me up with more knowledge about his museum than I’ve known about all the other museums I’ve ever visited, combined. (When we visited his office, it was filled with different artifacts and pieces of art, just the way a museum director’s office should look. I was rather envious, because it was gorgeous.)
John says their role as a museum is to make visitors’ experience a surprise. The museum is the cultural living room of the Evansville community, but it’s also a repository for some regional, national, and even international art. For example, the Evansville Museum:
- Was the first to do an entire exhibition on RNA.
- Was the first museum to do an exhibit on holography as art.
- Had an exhibit that featured the costumes from Amadeus.
- Has the finest collection American still life paintings
- Has one of the largest T.C. Steele collections (Steele was part of the Hoosier 5 group of painters, who started doing Impressionism unaware that this was going on in France at the same time)
- Has the last robe of the Emperor of China
- Has its own publishing house, publishing a wide variety of books, including ones on TC Steele, Steuben Glass, and some of their own exhibitions, like Rites, Rituals, and Celebrations.
John was especially proud of their collection of Steuben Glass, a world-famous style of art glass created by the Corning company’s art division, as well as a sculpture produced by Don Gummer (Meryl Streep’s husband). But my favorite art was an exhibition they did called “The Object Project,” in which they gave 5 objects to 15 different artists, and asked them to come up with a piece of art that incorporated all five objects.
(John also gave me a stack of books about Steuben glass, the Don Gummer sculpture, the TC Steele art, and the Object Project. I haven’t opened them yet, but the Object Project is on the top of my pile to read.)
With an impressive history like this, the Evansville Museum should be one of your stops if you go anywhere in the River City.
Photo: Erik Deckers