Federal Funding Impact Story #3

Project: Documenting Modern Living

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Alexander Girard textile design floor plan, ca. 1956, on the IMA Archives Digital Archives Portal landing page (archive.imamuseum.org)

Granting Agency: National Endowment for the Humanities
Grant Program: Preservation and Access: Humanities Collections and Reference Resources
Institution: Indianapolis Museum of Art
State: Indiana
Congressional District: Indiana US District 7
Grant Period: April 2012 – May 2015
Award Amount: $190,000
Institutional Match Amount: $221,000

Jobs Created:
The largest portion of the award received from NEH went to the hiring of two full time employees–one for 18 months, and the other for 24 months.

Project Description
Digitization of the Miller House and Garden Collection, and creation of a Digital Archives Portal for delivery of content.

What was the need for the grant?
The Miller House and Garden Collection documents the design, construction, decoration, and maintenance of the iconic mid-century modern property for over 50 years. When the house and garden were gifted to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, this important archival collection also came to the museum. To assist the IMA in successfully stewarding the home and the many collections materials that came along with it, increased access and better preservation of the archival collection were key. Digitization would solve both needs, and a grant would allow for the purchase of digitization equipment and the hiring of staff to undertake the years-long process.

What has been the primary impact of this project?
This project has allowed for unprecedented access to an important mid-century design collection that documents the legacies of Daniel Urban Kiley, Eero Saarinen, and Alexander Girard. The easy availability of this material has made it possible for the Indianapolis Museum of Art to present the story of the home to the Columbus and broader Indiana  and national communities at a level of detail and accuracy that would not have been possible without the grant award. Perhaps the greatest impact that this project has had is on the country’s future architects, as architecture students from around the country have requested the high-resolution images of the home and landscape architectural drawings to further their studies. Students of interior design have similarly benefited, and will continue to do so for many decades to come.

This grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities has also had a direct impact on the lives of the two full time, temporary employees hired with the grant funds. One has gone on to further the Columbus Indiana Architectural Archives as their archivist, and the other was offered a job at a high-profile design company immediately following the grant period as a result of their work on the Documenting Modern Living project.

Submission by: Samantha Norling, Archivist, Indianapolis Museum of Art
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