Letter from Dr. Charles L. Venable, The Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO, Spring 2013
One of the best things about a new job is the excitement of meeting new people. My first months at the IMA have been very rewarding in this way. The warm welcome of Indianapolis has been overwhelming, and I would like to thank all of you for your thoughtful words, emails, and cards. I so appreciate the support and encouragement. Over the past weeks I have had the pleasure of meeting many IMA supporters who enable the work of this great museum through their memberships as well as annual and planned gifts. I have also had the opportunity to speak with representatives from local and national foundations that have enabled the IMA to undertake a wide array of important projects and educational activities through the years.
As you will read in this issue, on January 1 the IMA began the centennial celebration of Oldfields–Lilly House & Gardens, the former estate of the J.K. Lilly Jr. family. Completed in 1913, the house and its grounds were given by J.K. Lilly III and his sister, Ruth, to the Museum in 1966 with the intention that the IMA would preserve the home, but also construct a new museum building somewhere on the site. The “new” IMA opened here at 38th Street and Michigan Road in 1970 and has expanded several times since, most recently with the opening of The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park.
In learning the history of the Museum, I have found it both impres- sive and encouraging to see how unwavering the support of the Lilly family, Eli Lilly and Company, and Lilly Endowment, Inc. has been through the years. My recent conversations with members of the Lilly family, Clay Robbins and Dick Ristine of the Lilly Endowment, and Derica Rice and Rob Smith of Eli Lilly and Company have all focused on the future of Indianapolis and Indiana and the IMA’s role in keeping our community vibrant for all of its citizens. As the IMA’s director, it is reassuring to know that such thoughtful individuals will help to ensure the Museum’s success now and in the years to come.
The celebration of the 100-year anniversary of Oldfields not only reflects upon the leadership and philanthropy of the Lilly family and their legacy, but also upon the generosity of every one of you and those who have gone before and will come after us. The Lillys gave their home and land to the IMA knowing that the institution would need to grow and change over time, and in doing so it would require the support of many more individuals, companies, and foundations. It is an established fact that art and culture create ripple effects of benefits throughout a community. The arts connect people, bringing diverse groups together to share common experiences, hear new perspectives, and understand each other better. Making sure that the IMA flourishes and supports our community in these ways requires the efforts of all of us, as we all benefit from that success. So as Oldfields–Lilly House & Gardens turns 100, lift your glass in a celebratory toast, but remember the thanks go to you as well as the Lillys and all those who have cared for the IMA since its founding in 1883.
Dr. Charles L. Venable
The Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO