The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, 1989, 2005

500 West Washington Street Indianapolis, IN 46204

Architect/Designer: Jonathan Hess, Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf


The Eiteljorg Museum’s design is fairly geometric; the main structure is comprised of rectangular planes with a rotunda along the main entrance path. The strong angular lines of the museum of softened by the organic nature of the sandstone and dolomite building material. The juxtaposition of contemporary design with southwest pueblo influences creates a dynamic structure. Sculptures surround the museum grounds including “The Greeter” by George Carlson a sculpture of deer splashing in a fountain that is situated in front of the building and greets visitors as they enter the grounds. The rear of the museum features a sculpture garden adjacent to Central Canal. Additionally the grounds are landscaped with indigenous Indiana plants, creating an outdoor experience that compliments the exquisite interior art collection.

Significance Statement – including special status and awards won:

Prior to creating his design, Hess traveled with Harrison Eiteljorg through the Southwest desert to gain a better understanding of the cultural, architecture and landscape. This extensive research is evident in Hess’s design which facilitates Eiteljorg’s personal vision for the museum to “inspire an appreciation and understanding of the art, history and cultures of the American West and the indigenous peoples of North America. ” The Eiteljorg museum is included in the Indianapolis Cultural Trail which travels in part along Central Canal. The Eiteljorg’s design has been honored by the Indiana Society of Architects and the Indianapolis chapter of the American Institute of Architects

Designation status:


Style: Pueblo style with contemporary design

Owner (past/present):

The Eiteljorg Museum Foundation

Materials:  Minnesota dolomite, Sandstone

Additions and/or changes with date:

2005: 26,000 square feet added including three new galleries, the Sky City Café, education center, event space and outdoor garden expansion with direct access to the White River Canal.

Historic use/current use: Museum

Is building open to the public?: Yes

Condition: Excellent

Website and/or sources of information:


Research Sources:

Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Architects. “Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.” Accessed November 13, 2015.

The Eiteljorg. “The Eiteljorg Museum Building.” Accessed November 13, 2015.

Walk Indianapolis. “Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.” Accessed November 13, 2015.


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