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Eskenazi art museum collections will find temporary home in Kentucky



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The Indiana Arc, outside the Eskenazi Art Museum of Art, was built in 1995. It is made of aluminum and was built by Charles Perry, an American sculptor known for his large public sculptures. Ty Vinson Buy Photos

Some of the artwork of the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art will settle into a temporary home in Kentucky while Eskenazi is closed for renovations, according to a statement released Wednesday.

While Eskenazi is closed for renovations, it will begin a five-year partnership with the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, where some of Eskenazi’s collection will be temporarily on display.

The first exhibit, “Picasso to Pollock: Modern Masterworks from the Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University,” will be open at the Speed from June 16, 2018, to Jan. 13, 2019.

The exhibit will feature more than 70 paintings and sculptures, including works by Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera, Henry Moore and Jackson Pollock. 

A second exhibit, “American Storybook: The Imaginary Travelogue of Thomas Chambers,” featuring the work of 19th-century American landscape painter Thomas Chambers, will also be on loan from the Eskenazi Museum.

The Thomas Chambers exhibit will run from July 21, 2018, to Jan. 6, 2019.

IU students, faculty members and staff members will have free admission to the Speed while the loaned exhibits are on display, as long as they bring a university photo ID.

Stephen Reily, director of the Speed Art Museum, said the partnership is a remarkable opportunity to share IU’s collections with a broader audience in Louisville.

“Museums in the same region sometimes consider each other competitors, when they should be friends,” Reily said in the press release.

Jenny McComas, the Eskenazi museum’s curator of European and American art, first proposed the art exchange with the Speed, but she said she did not expect the partnership to last five years.

“When I first proposed an exchange with the Speed during our closure, I did not expect the project to develop into a long-term, multi-exhibition partnership," McComas said in a press release. "I am thrilled that we have reached an agreement that will benefit both museums.”

The partnership is longer than the typical three-month loan agreement between museums, McComas said.

Reily said the long-term partnership allows Eskenazi to organize the exhibits over time and give Louisville residents time to see them.

He said it is a new kind of regional partnership, and he is proud to be a part of it.

The Speed, Kentucky’s largest art museum, celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2017, according to the press release.

Like Eskenazi, the Speed is located on a college campus. While Eskenazi sits on IU’s campus, the Speed finds its home on the University of Louisville’s campus.

The Speed, like the Eskenazi, has also undergone recent renovations. The Kentucky museum reopened in 2016 after a 3-year, $60 million renovation and expansion, according to the press release.

Now, the Speed will display some of the artwork from Eskenazi as it undergoes similar renovations.

Reily said the Speed, along with Eskenazi, are among the best art museums in the Midwest because of the breadth and quality of their collections.

David Brenneman, director of the IU Eskenazi Museum of Art, said the partnership between the two allows Eskenazi to continue to serve IU students and faculty while spreading its influence to Kentucky.

“The exhibition at the Speed will introduce new audiences in the region to the Eskenazi Museum of Art and its remarkable modern holdings,” Brenneman said.

Above all, Reily said the partnership will improve the programs and resources both museums provide.

“The partnership benefits both museums, not only by raising the profile of both the Speed and the Eskenazi in the region but also by facilitating our respective audiences’ access to new works of art at a fraction of the cost,” Reily said.

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