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Number Two


As the IMA website indicates, we have taken official possession of the Miller House and Garden in Columbus, Indiana. This will make the second National Historic Landmark property the IMA has in its collection (Oldfields-Lilly House and Gardens being the first). How’s that for bragging rights! As a practical matter however, home ownership is not all fun and games in this situation. Ahead lies a road of challenges for the staff working on MHG teams.

Columbus is an hour’s drive south of Indy, which makes it difficult to explore the house and conduct business with the current local staff. Director of Lilly House Operations Bradley Brooks, head of our team of six, has spent a lot of time on the phone and making the trek south in the run-up to taking possession of the property. He has interacted with everyone from members of the Miller family to a nephew of  Eero Saarinen. Bradley has been, and continues to be a very busy beaver.

The task of converting a residential property into a museum showcase has been an educational experience for our team, so far. It has forced us to look at all the things we do here at the museum, a lot of which we take for granted, and formulate how to adapt and transplant these practices to a former family home fifty miles away.

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Coffee Nostalgia

Image from

While roaming the Internet one day, I ran across a design website with photos of fun coffee mugs of all shapes and sizes. It made me think of our newly opened European Design exhibit, and work, and drinking coffee since that’s what I do at work–drink coffee.

I found some more interesting websites about coffee, especially ones where coffee intersects with art and design. And I thought back to the old days when our coffee arrangement here at the IMA was entirely different. Cue the harp sound effects and wavy visual for a flashback…  Read the rest of this entry »



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.

IMA's campus and LOVE

IMA's campus and LOVE

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Looking Back

For me, Penrod is the culmination of the year’s major activities.  Once Penrod is put to bed, Security is coasting toward the end of the year.  Sure, we just had the 125th anniversary gala (I left before the auction ended), but it was just another party to us.  We’ve done a hundred parties – smile, keep drinks out of the galleries, corral Freiman’s group on the 2nd floor – same old, same old.  I’m talking about the heavy lifting.

The end of the Roman Art exhibit started the year for us.  As usual, visitors waited till the last weekend to come see the show.  The line looped completely through all the first floor galleries.  We kept the visitors occupied and relatively happy while they waited two hours to see the show.
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What I did on my summer vacation

It wasn’t Security Camp, but I recently got to travel to Boston with Protection Services director Pam Godfrey for a museum security conference.  The International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection and the Fogg Art Museum hosted participants from the US and Europe for four days of lectures, certification sessions, networking, and technology demos.  Lecturers included Noah Charney from the Association for Research into Crimes against Art, Ellie Bruggeman from the Museum Security Network, founding director of IFCPP Steve Layne, as well as representatives from museum and library facilities on the Harvard campus.  We heard a lot about emergency response planning, workplace violence, and art theft, along with taking side trips to Harvard and the Museum of Fine Arts.

The great thing about this conference, and the National Conference hosted annually by the Smithsonian, is that they are oriented around museums and other cultural institutions, such as libraries and historical properties.  Other conferences, such as the ASIS annual shindig, are huge and cover the whole spectrum of security issues, including securing nuclear facilities.  Not much fissionable material here at the IMA, except Mindy when contractors want to bend safety rules.

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About Gary Hutchison

Job Title: Manager, Protection Services Department

Interests: Art & Photography, Travel, Detective novels, Writing, Gambling (If you’ve heard of “Whales,” I’m a “Flounder.” It describes my level of play AND my success.)

Favorite Movies: The Eiger Sanction, Dirty Harry, Bullit are three. Iron Man was good.

Favorite Music: The iPod is full of all kinds of stuff, from Scottish bagpipes to the Teen Titans theme (in Japanese), but there’s a lot of Elton John, Jimmy Buffet, Sting, James Taylor, and Brian Setzer.

Favorite Food: It’s not about the food, it’s about the experience; a warm climate, ice-cold beer, and conch fritters; Taco Bell or White Castles after a bad day; bourbon and a cigar after a good one, a team pitch-in at work on Sunday with fried chicken and lasagna.

Pets: A beautifully soft orange domestic shorthair cat named Cler (short for Clermont, it’s a long story) and three black & white feral cats named Sox, Girlie, and Gimpy.

Something you should know about me: I make the best chocolate fudge.

Gary has written 9 articles for us.