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Creating an Autoportrait: Clifford Graham

Obscured beneath the simple words, numbers, shapes, and colors found in much of Robert Indiana’s work are essential memories and symbols of the artist’s life. Indiana’s visual vocabulary is encrypted with personal symbolism. This is particularly evident in his long series of Autoportraits.

To complement The Essential Robert Indiana, on view through May 4, the IMA invites visitors both on-site and online to Create Your Autoportrait using some of the same elements that Robert Indiana incorporates in to his. During the run of the exhibition, IMA staff members will be creating their own Autoportraits and blogging about it.

The fifth in this series features Clifford Graham III, the IMA’s Gallery Guide Security Supervisor.


Blue, green, and purple are my favorite colors, I LOVE the cool color palette. I used 2 and 11 to represent my birthday; and the 14 is for this year — NOW.

I am not spontaneous; I get too caught up in tomorrow to enjoy NOW. For 2014 I want to learn to enjoy the moment; because right NOW is all that any of us is sure of. I LOVE music! It is my way to unwind, let go, and relax. A melancholy melody, angelic harmonies, or a thumping bass line allows me the space to let everything go. LOVE is my spiritual gift; everyone needs it, and everyone wants it. I also used LOVE in my Autoportrait to pay homage to Robert Indiana.

Filed under: Audience Engagement, Exhibitions, IMA Staff, Protection Services


Changes to IMA’s Security Program

Today is one of those days when what needs to happen is not what you would want to happen.  In an effort to manage the museum as effectively as possible we’re making some difficult changes in our security department.  We wanted to be as clear as possible about the reasons for these changes so we asked Katie Zarich, our Deputy Director of Public Affairs, to walk us through.

As we roll out a new security program, we say goodbye to 33 full-time and 23 part-time security officers whose positions have been eliminated. These individuals served with diligence and care, and they helped to keep our visitors and our artwork safe for years, and in some cases decades. Unfortunately, we were unable to meet the objectives of enhancing security at 100 Acres; responding to potentially serious incidents that arise on the IMA campus, and reducing the cost of the security program with the previous staffing model.

What is the new program?

The new model enables protection of visitors and artwork through its three distinct job functions: campus police officers; communications and monitoring specialists; and visitor assistants.

  1. A key component of the program is the campus police force made up of 14 officers. The officers, who are reserve officers of area police forces, are employees of the IMA, and they provide patrols of the campus as well as security to the museum. Their patrol cars and uniforms identify them as police officers, and their presence also will serve to deter crime. Should an incident that requires a police response occur at the IMA, we no longer need to call the police and wait for them to respond. Our campus police officers are able to take police reports and follow other police protocols.
  2. The communications and monitoring function uses an elaborate electronic surveillance system to monitor museum galleries and outdoor areas.
  3. The visitor assistants are trained ambassadors of the museum experience; they are posted throughout museum galleries and the rest of the campus. The visitor assistant staff, which is composed of students from a federally funded work study program at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), will provide enhanced customer service as they will be available to answer questions or assist visitors throughout the IMA’s 152 acres.

We also have added two Emergency Medical Technicians who are able to respond to medical needs that arise in 100 Acres or elsewhere on the campus.

Why did we implement a new security program?

  1. This summer we opened 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park. The park has been filled with visitors since opening day, and it requires an ongoing security presence.
  2. The IMA has a reputation for being a safe place. Regrettably, we’d seen some incidents that could threaten that reputation.  We’ve had numerous car break-ins, and we had been unable to curb that problem, despite increased security patrols.
  3. The security department makes up a large percentage of the IMA’s payroll, and in an effort to budget efficiently and effectively, we had to substantially reduce the cost of our security personnel budget.

This new model for the IMA’s security department was envisioned by Nick Cameron, the IMA’s Chief Operating Officer and was thoroughly vetted by IMA staff and public safety and security professionals. For several weeks, Martin Whitfield, the IMA’s Director of Security, has worked with a team to staff the new positions, and to ensure that all team members are properly trained.

As times have changed and our museum and its campus have grown, so too must our security measures.  This new program is necessary in order to better protect the 152 acre campus.  Implementing the new program was a process not undertaken lightly. We are sincerely grateful for the years of service that our security officers dedicated to the IMA, and we are providing outplacement services and other benefits to them.

Filed under: Current Events, Local, Protection Services


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 »

Filed under: Design, Musings, Protection Services



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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Filed under: Protection Services


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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Filed under: Protection Services


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