September 22, 2009

The Indianapolis Museum Of Art

Last week I had a few hours free on a sunny afternoon. I was downtown, so it wasn’t too far to visit the Museum of Art, a place I have not seen since the children were little. But I didn’t want to go inside this time. An acquaintance of mine has made a name for herself as the master gardener of its grounds. I found out last week that her reputation is well deserved.

Image courtesy of

The museum is situated on the former J.K. Lilly estate, with several buildings on 150 acres in the middle of the city. The Lilly mansion is there, and the landscaping includes a ravine garden and formal garden. Both were designed by the same landscape architect team that designed Central Park in NYC, and you can see the similarities. Come join me on my first walk through the gardens.

Naturally, artworks are on the grounds as well as inside, and this famous sculpture by Robert Indiana has its home here. The original purplish sheen will return as the surface oxidizes back from some recent repairs.

On a sidewalk through the landscaped parking, I found the path to the ravine garden.

From the path above the canal, you can see this beautiful footbridge area.

From there I walked toward the canal that separates the gardens from the 100-acre park. The park is going to become an art park, populated by outdoor contemporary installations that change over time. The grand opening is scheduled for next June.

At one point, I had to choose: ravine or formal? I went up.

Emerging from the trees, I came to the Lilly mansion.

From the courtyard you can see both gardens. This is an area merging the ravine with the formal garden.

Leaving the courtyard toward the museum, I walked through the formal garden.

A few twists and turns took me to the entry gate to the mansion. The bridge goes over another street on the grounds. I’ll find out where it goes on another visit.

I came full circle back to the museum. I can see I’m going to spend a lot of time getting to know this area now. While the weather is good, I’ll spend most of it outside. When the weather turns, I’ll go inside and see what awaits me there.

Before the past couple of years, my interest in the outdoors was limited to the untamed portions. My thanks for this new interest in gardens go to Greg, Patrick, Jeaux and JeepGuy, all of whose photos and musings gave me the desire to experience it for myself. My dad, who was a landscape architect and whose gene for said skill entirely missed me, would be smiling.


Jeaux said...

The fork in the path leading to the formal gardens/ravine reminds me the most of Central Park, specifically the Ramble.

I think I'd spend hours and hours in this park. The one think I regret about this region is the lack of a really good city park. The kind of park that is so mature that it's just this side of a ruin.

That landscaping gene is certainly lurking in your appreciation of these arcadian settings.

MartininBroda said...

Thanks for sharing this very interesting and pleasant walk. I’m really enjoyed it.

Ur-spo said...

I like a garden path, and where it may go.

Greg said...

Birdie, thanks so much for the sweet garden walk! What a treat - I LOVE that ravine garden.