What Is The Best Art Gallery Or Museum In Indiana ?

Thom Bierdz
7 min readMay 28, 2019

For the past 11 years, American Art Awards has decided the 25 Best Galleries and Museums in America. Among the criteria: years in business, industry reputation, online activity, location, size, exhibits, educational programs, represented artists and references from artists, clients and visitors. Only one per state per year is selected.

“American Art Awards selects Haan Museum of Indiana Art as our Best Gallery or Museum in Indiana, and one of our 25 Best Galleries and Museums in America, 2019.”


The Haan Museum of Indiana Art holds the finest and most extensive collection of Indiana paintings and ceramics in the world. Paintings by T. C. Steele and other Hoosier Group artists and the Brown County Art Colony are housed in a mansion moved from the 1904 St Louis World’s Fair. The Museum is filled with massive American furniture and major oils by Indiana’s most significant artists. Lafayette’s Haan is both a relevant contemporary museum and a phenomenally preserved ticket to yesterday’s treasures — an unforgettable experience to thousands of visitors.


The Hoosier Group is a designation given to five artists in 1894 at an exhibition in Chicago, when a critic wrote about the wonderful work by the “Hoosier Group”. T. C. Steele, J. Ottis Adams, William Forsyth, Otto Stark, and R. B. Gruelle comprise this most important group of Indiana artists, and they are the most represented artists on display in the mansion.

The second important group are members of the Brown County Art Colony. When T. C. Steele went to Brown County in 1907, many artists went there from other states so they could paint near him for the season or establish permanent residences. Ada and Adolph Shulz, Edward K Williams, Lucie Hartrath, Adam Emory Albright, and L. O. Griffith were the best of these artists. Although Steele’s move to Brown County helped establish the artists’ colony, he was 60 years old at the time, and did not integrate into the art scene like the other artists.


The Museum also features exceptional works by Richmond Group artists John Elwood Bundy, Charles Conner and Maude Eggemeyer, as well as work by pioneer painters George Winter, Barton Hays and Jacob Cox.

One area of the Museum is devoted to Regionalist (American Scene) paintings created in the 1930’s and early 1940’s. The collection includes Harvest Dinner by Harry Davis, which won the Prix de Rome in 1938, and Next Up by Robert Weaver, which won the Chaloner Prize.

The Haan Museum regularly loans paintings to other museums for special exhibitions. During Indiana’s Bicentennial, they loaned works to the Indiana State Museum (for two different exhibitions), the Indiana Historical Society, and the Richmond Art Museum. The Fort Wayne Museum of Art borrowed 57 paintings for their bicentennial exhibit.


The Museum is furnished with massive American antiques, mostly in the Renaissance Revival style made between 1860 and 1890. Some of the rare pieces include a Superior Grade Wooten desk made in Indianapolis about 1875, and a massive Thomas Brooks pier mirror. The dining room furniture, a partner’s desk, a 10-foot grandfather clock, and a massive easel were made by RJ Horner. The bedrooms are furnished with beds made by Prudent Mallard about 1840, and highly decorated beds and other furniture by other prominent cabinet makers.

Clocks are another highlight of the Museum. In addition to the Horner clock, there is an 8-foot Tiffany precision regulator that was made for the 1893 Columbian exposition in Chicago. It has vials full of mercury that expands to offset the effect of temperature changes. (As the temperature rises, the pendulum gets longer, and it takes longer to strike a second. To offset that, the mercury expands upward and keeps the center of mass at the same point, so the clock keeps nearly perfect time.)

The rarest clock is a 10-foot Gothic clock that was hand carved in Indianapolis in 1910. The wood was milled from an oak log that was found 40 feet underground in Gosport, Indiana. It took 2 ½ years to carve the clock. The wood was carbon dated to circa 2150 BC.


The first ceramics in the Haan Museum were three massive vases from the Weller exhibit at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, where the mansion served as the Connecticut Building. The largest vase is seven feet tall, and won a gold prize for the Arts at the Fair. The Museum now showcases historic Indiana pottery as well as contemporary ceramics. Most of the contemporary ceramics were made by professors with strong connections to Indiana. They tend to be large, decorative pieces that were made for special exhibitions. Many were in the artists’ personal collections for decades.


The Museum’s wheelchair-accessible sculpture garden has 25 sculptures by Indiana artists. It was recognized by the State as a Bicentennial Legacy Project when it was added in 2016. It includes two bronzes by Tuck Langland, who made major bronzes for the Federal Reserve and many other major institutions around the world. Other garden art includes metal sculptures by Greg Mendez; works in clay by several artists including Marvin Bartel and Bill Kremer; glass platters by Kathleen Kitch depicting native Indiana flowers; and amazing carved Serpentine stone figures and carved African animals by Peter Rujuwa that provide a safari search for kids. Two more figural pieces will be added in 2019.


Tuesdays on the Trails: Fourth Tuesday, April to October, 6 to 7 pm. Guide will lead a walk in the woods on the Museum property, and talk about native trees, invasive species, healthy woods, and wildlife habitats.

Gallery Walks: May 17, July 19 and September 27, 6–9 pm. Free admission and light refreshments.

Karl Martz and the Legacy of Indiana University Ceramics Exhibition: May 4 — July 27. Martz established the ceramics program at IU in 1945, and changed the world of ceramics in Indiana and beyond. Exhibition includes over major 100 works by Karl Martz and his wife, Becky Brown; Indiana University tenure track ceramics professors; MFA graduates who became professors at colleges across the country; and other MFA graduates with successful careers as clay artists.

Lunch & Learn: Learn about firing techniques for ceramics: June 4, 11:30–1 pm

Theater in the Garden: Lafayette Civic Youth Theatre production in the Theater Garden: June 21 & 22, 7 pm

National Ice Cream Day Celebration: July 21, 1–4 pm. Free. Make your own ice cream sundae, enjoy live music, and create your own masterpiece.

T.C. Steele and Beyond: Indiana Art through Time Opening Reception: August 9, 6–8 pm.

Exhibition: August 10 — November 2. Exceptional paintings by T.C. Steele and other Hoosier Group artists, Pioneer Painters, Brown County, Richmond Group, American Scene, and independent artists.

Lunch & Learn: September 10, 11:30–1 pm

Celebrate Indiana! Festival: August 31, 12–4 pm. Family-friendly event celebrates all things Indiana — food, music, art, games, nature and more.

Christmas at the Haan Museum: November 29 to December 29. The Museum is open extended days and hours to celebrate this special time of year. Trains in the pool room meander past the Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace, and many other famous London landmarks. A larger train in the next room passes the Empire State Building, Independence Hall, Wrigley Field, the Golden Gate Bridge and other American landmarks as it travels through a closet and bedroom to another bedroom, and passes famous buildings from the Midwest, including Lafayette landmarks. Decorated trees in almost every room enhance the family-friendly atmosphere. Kids can play in the gingerbread-style house, ride in a sleigh behind two (stationary) reindeer, or activate musical characters that sing and dance. Santas, wreaths, nativity sets, and garland add to the festive feel.

HOURS: Wednesday through Saturday from 1 to 4 pm.

ADDRESS: Haan Museum / 920 E State Street / Lafayette, IN 47905 / 765–742–6449

See more of the collection of antiquities at this link:



Some story photos by Erick Dirks.




Thom Bierdz

One of Medium’s TOP ART CONTRIBUTORS, award-winning author, actor, film-maker, painter. 12 books: 6 on art. President of WAA & AAA & ACCA.