As a result of John Herron's surprising bequest, the Art Association of Indianapolis established John Herron Art Institute (museum and art school) in 1902 at 16th and Pennsylvania streets. Its buildings were officially dedicated in 1906. Vonnegut and Bohn architects designed the Italian Renaissance style museum building. Herron’s main classroom building was designed by Paul Philip Cret in 1929. It was the second facility in the nation designed expressly for art education. In 1962 an additional classroom building opened, designed by Evans Woolen III.
Herron's initial faculty included Brandt Steele (son of storied Hoosier Group painter T.C. Steele) J. Ottis Adams, Alfred B. Lyon, Virginia Keep and Helen McKay. When Adams resigned, William Forsyth joined the faculty. Otto Stark also joined the faculty in 1905.
In 1967 the school functions of Herron became part of Indiana University, as plans for moving the museum got underway. Two years later, Indiana and Purdue universities joined forces in Indianapolis to form IUPUI, which would eventually become Herron's home campus, just beyond the west boundary of the downtown Mile Square.
The Herron Museum collection formed the nucleus of what would become the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA), which opened in its new location in 1970. Today, the IMA is one of the largest encyclopedic art museums in the United States, which is a great advantage to Herron students.
Herron launched a capital campaign in 1999 to raise funds for two new buildings. With one-third of the funding from the state and the generosity of many private donors, corporations and foundations, Herron opened its new Sculpture and Ceramics facility, designed by Walter Blackburn, in 2000. Eskenazi Hall, designed by Jonathan Hess, opened in 2005.
The Herron Chronicle
To learn more about Herron’s rich history through 2002, purchase a copy of The Herron Chronicle. This book is a must-have for Herron alumni, donors, or anyone with a passion for history and art. Written by Harriet G. Warkel, Martin F. Krause, and S. L. Berry and published in 2003 in celebration of Herron's centennial, The Herron Chronicle provides a fascinating record of the school, from its gifted teachers and students to the evolution of the institution's place in society. The book includes more than 200 images, historic photographs and rediscovered paintings that document the changing styles and culture of Herron's first 100 years.
Call (317) 278-9469 to purchase the hardbound, full-color book for $25.
Herron and Indianapolis
The work of Herron students, faculty, and alumni has marked the Indianapolis landscape for more than a century. The city’s centerpiece, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Monument Circle, features sculpture by former Herron faculty member Rudolph Schwarz. Herron alumnus Rik Tommasone designed the Lilly Medal, awarded biannually to the recipient of the Indianapolis Prize, the world’s leading award for animal conservation, given by the Indianapolis Zoo. Internationally known artist and Herron alumnus Don Gummer created Southern Circle for the Meridian Street Plaza, a park-like setting in front of Eli Lilly and Company's Faris II Building (now Rolls-Royce Meridian Center). These are just some of the Herron stories that reflect the school’s civic engagement, which starts at home, but extends well beyond the Midwest to far-flung places.