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Indianapolis Museum of Art Bike Access Route

Bikers on Canal Towpath heading to IMA

Bikers on Canal Towpath heading to IMA

Recently, there has been much concern expressed over the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s accessibility to bikers who commute to our campus. We appreciate hearing feedback from our guests, especially those who have been visiting us for many years. We fully understand the sense of loss of not being able to use the IMA campus as it has been used in the past. Major changes like this are always difficult. We would like to take this opportunity to address these concerns directly.

The commentary stating the IMA has banned bicycles from our property is untrue. The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park: 100 Acres, which comprises two-thirds of our 152-acre campus, is available to cyclists just as it was before our new policies went into effect this April. The most significant change is restricting vehicle traffic in our gardens. Following the model of many public, botanical gardens around the nation, we have reserved our gardens for pedestrians in order to enhance the safety and experience for our guests. We have also added considerable amounts of new sidewalks, benches, trashcans and bike racks, as well as opened our pedestrian gates on both Michigan Road and 38th Street.

We welcome bikes at the IMA, and we suggest that bikers arrive via the Canal Towpath, to ensure that our guests arrive safely. Bikers who are commuting to the IMA can enter via the Canal Towpath, cross the Waller Bridge (the red bridge that connects the Museum and formal gardens with the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres), can park their bike at the bike rack and walk up to our Upper Campus.

At that point, guests can check in at one of our Guest Services desks. Our main Guest Services desk is located in the Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion. For the convenience of our guests arriving by bike or on foot via the Towpath, we have added two additional Guest Services desks located at the end of the Garden Path (just inside of Deer Zink Events Pavilion) and inside the Lilly House. Guests should check in upon arrival.

waller-bridge-bike-rackBike racks are located in the following areas:

  • On the north (Museum & Gardens) and south (The Park) side of Waller Bridge
  • In the parking garage, just outside of the entrance to the Catherine and Robert Lictenauer Passageway Gallery
  • Next to The Dudley and Mary Louise Sutphin Mall
  • Outside of Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion (38th Street entrance)

Adding bike lanes outside of the IMA property to aid bikers in accessing our campus is a decision that must be made by the City of Indianapolis. We have met with the City to discuss adding additional sections of sidewalks at 38th Street and Michigan Road that would connect with our sidewalks. City Officials felt that was a reasonable request and assured us that they will try to work with us on this initiative. We asked that consideration be given to restriping the crosswalks at 38th Street and 40th Street. We also discussed the possibility of adding a bike path from 42nd Street to the IMA’s 40th Street entrance on Michigan Rd. That request was heard, but no commitment was made. We continue to work closely with neighboring institutions to convince the City to improve walkability and bikeability along Michigan Rd. and 38th St. While it may take some time to accomplish all that our anchor coalition wants, we are confident much can be achieved.

To provide you with some context for the new policies, we want you to know that our Senior Staff and Board of Governors spent an enormous amount of time and effort exploring options before taking unanimous action last December. After studying the situation for two years, we came to the conclusion that if we want to achieve our vision of advancing our gardens to the level of a major public garden and to make them safe for all visitors, part of our campus needed to be reserved for pedestrians.

Canal Towpath leading to IMA

Canal Towpath leading to IMA

Although we have many things to improve on as we implement the Board’s directives during the coming months, we hope that you and other friends of the IMA will understand the need to do things differently going forward. If you are interested in learning more about the reasons behind the transition, we hope that you will take the time to view the video of our Board Chairman, Thomas Hiatt, and CEO, Charles L. Venable, addressing guests at our Annual Membership meeting on May 20, 2015. Their presentation answers a number of the questions that many have posed about the IMA’s finances and changes to our admission policy and entrance to the campus. We also welcome questions or comments at

We will continue to seek outlets for connecting with the community in order to arrive at solutions that both further the IMA’s mission and keep all of our guests safe while traveling to and visiting the IMA.


More details about the Central Canal Towpath, including a comprehensive, can be found on the City of Indianapolis website.

Filed under: IMA Facilities, Uncategorized

2 Responses to “Indianapolis Museum of Art Bike Access Route”

  • avatar
    Michael J. Says:

    Well, it’s certainly true in part: you have in fact banned bicycles from the IMA gardens. And, lest anyone be confused by use of the term “garden” in this context – we’re not talking about narrow, one (1) foot wide garden paths (upon which I have never seen a cyclist – not one – in the 15 plus years I’ve visited the IMA), we’re referring to the large roads that wind through the garden portion of your campus, past the Lilly House. It’s from those roads (originating at the closed 42nd Street entrance) that you have banned cyclists. So, although the Monon Trail seems to safely accommodate pedestrians, runners, cyclists, strollers, etc. quite well, the roads that are over twice as wide that wind through your botanical gardens can’t accommodate cyclists and pedestrians safely? That’s simply not credible.

    I do understand the need to have control over entries to the campus, and to charge membership fees – that isn’t in dispute, at least as far as I’m concerned. But, isn’t there a way for IMA members to simply swipe a key fob (or their membership card) at the 42nd street entrance, or at the Canal Towpath entrance, and then enter the campus with their bicycles?

  • avatar
    Eric S - Butler Tarkington Resident Says:

    The Indianapolis Art Museum created through Great Philanthropic Efforts, intended as an Oasis in the midst of Urban sprawl intended to inspire creativity… my opinion is now on Lock Down due to vehicle break-ins and assaults and property crimes to this Great institution. Cameras, security guards, etc are not enough to stop the petty crimes and criminals from deystroying what was intended to be a public space operated by a not for profit.. Prisoners at the Gate… Sorry Indianapolis…..Thank the Thugs Amongst Us that have ruined what was intended for all of us. Crime and Criminals create Fear and MAKE victims of us All…the Art Museum finally got tired of it and took action to protect their guests on the grounds……They can sugar coat it any way they want…’s called PR folks….Sad!!

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