Traditional Arts Indiana has moved to Mathers Museum



Indiana’s traditional arts program, which was previously housed at IU, now calls the Mathers Museum of World Cultures its home.

Traditional Arts Indiana has been a longtime collaborator with the museum, according to an IU press release. Traditional Arts Indiana is a campus-wide unit administered in the Office of the Vice Provost for Research that began in 1998 to increase public consciousness of Indiana’s traditional arts practices.

“Almost every state has a traditional folk art program — many are part of the state’s arts council,” said Jon Kay, director of Traditional Arts Indiana, in the release. “Less common is for such a folk arts program to be housed on a university campus with access to so many interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities and technological resources.”

Kay is also a 2013 Archie Green Fellow, an honor given by the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center, according to the University.

Although the organization has moved out of the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, its status as an IU partnership with the Indiana Arts Commission remains unchanged.

Traditional Arts Indiana was the inaugural exhibitor in the Wells Library Scholar’s Commons this past fall. The exhibit showcased the work of artisans statewide in a display named “Hoosier Handmade,” according to the University.

The organization has also created a webinar series that covers topics from memory and aging to how to mount an exhibit, which has become popular, according to the release.

“Traditional Arts Indiana is a leading public humanities organization in the United States,” said Jason Jackson, director of the Mathers Museum, in the release. “Jon Kay has pioneered strategies that are now being emulated nationwide. Many of these innovations — such as hosting humanities webinars and placing low-cost traveling exhibitions in almost every Indiana county — are perfectly aligned with the goals identified in the museum’s and the campus’ strategic plans.”

The organization received the 2013 Governor’s Arts Award as well as a fellowship from the Library of Congress. The fellowship is to research occupational traditions of park rangers, according to the University.

Currently, Traditional Arts Indiana is working on “Indiana Folk Arts: 200 Years of Tradition and Innovation,” a project supported by the National Endowment of the Arts. It will consist of 14 panels that profile several different artists.

Both undergraduates and graduate students can gain experience through research and creating exhibits, interviewing artists in Indiana and more, according to the release.

“On top of the many other benefits that will flow from joining our efforts, I am enthusiastic about the many new ways that we will be able to involve students in a research and public programs endeavor that impacts every county in the state while also enriching life on the IU-Bloomington campus,” Jackson said in the release.

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