The blogs tend to concentrate on the “tubes” and the IMA’s presence in the virtual world, so I’d like to take a moment and focus everyone’s attention back on the brick & mortar museum. I have been conducting a little research on the IMA, comparing it to some sister institutions – Detroit, Minneapolis, Cleveland, and St. Louis – and how our security department stacks up to others in operational costs and “bang for the buck.” During this research I have come to reaffirm, at least in my own mind, how unique the IMA is and how great our responsibility is to protect it.
I’ll try not to belabor the point with too many statistics, but in sheer square footage – 669,000 and change in the main building – the IMA ranks in the top ten out of about 230 other art museums. That’s a lot of square footage our security officers have to patrol each day, 24/7/365. And in that space is an art collection of roughly 54,000 pieces of art from all over the world and from all time periods.
Now, numerous other institutions have bigger buildings or more artwork, so let me add a few other amenities that the IMA has: a reference library, studio/education space, retail and dining areas, the 500-seat Deer-Zink events pavilion, and The Toby, a 600-seat theater to augment our warm-weather outdoor amphitheater.
If that’s not impressive, the IMA sits on a 50-acre landscaped campus with garden paths and outdoor artwork including the world-famous Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture . Also on this campus is the Garden Terrace events pavilion, a venue for smaller wedding receptions and meetings; the 1330 House, a temporary residence for visiting scholars and couriers; and Newfields, office space for our horticulture staff and home to the Horticulture Society’s reference library.
It is a rare thing that a museum has its own national historic landmark, as the IMA does in Oldfields-Lilly House and Gardens. I always enjoy taking new officers to Lilly for a tour from Bradley Brooks, curator and director of the house.
In terms of off-campus, let’s take a cruise past Westerley, the 5-acre IMA director’s residence. During the Gifts of the Tsars exhibition back in 2001, the IMA utilized the house for temporary housing of several Russian couriers. Security staffed the house, prompting me to refer to it as Best Westerley. Presently, we monitor the security systems and perform other tasks as requested by the director.
To complete the tour, I’ll mention the “100 Acres,” the Art & Nature Park to the west of the museum. Surprise, it’s a 100-acre plot of land with a big lake (I’ve heard 40 acres). Even though official construction has been delayed, the park is still open for dog walking and Frisbee throwing. Naked jogging is frowned upon, however.
There you have it, 150 acres of artsy goodness with two, count ‘em, national historic landmark properties, a mini-hotel for scholars, theater space for year-round films and concerts, two reference libraries, and an awesome director’s residence. Combine that with a variety of events and programs and our significant presence on the Web, and there is no doubt we have a world-class museum in our midst. Hugs & Kisses on Valentine’s Day.
Filed under: Protection Services