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Indiana University reopens I.M. Pei-designed Eskenazi Museum

Eskenazi Upgrade

Indiana University reopens I.M. Pei-designed Eskenazi Museum

The Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art has officially reopened its I.M. Pei-designed home at Indiana University. After a two-and-a-half-year, $30 million renovation by Ennead Architects, the 38-year-old structure now features a more intuitive wayfinding system and enhanced lighting design throughout the different galleries, while increasing the museum’s capacity for education and conservation opportunities. 

The Eskenazi Museum totals 112,000-square-feet, and with its concrete facade and Pei’s signature light-filled atrium, has been referenced as one of the late architect’s most striking works. While the design may seem like it features zero right angles, Pei, in fact, stitched the structure together using two triangular massings linked by a triangular atrium and its glass ceiling grid. Ennead’s upgrade to the museum, which was led by Susan T. Rodriguez (formerly of the firm) as well as Indianapolis-based Browing Day Mullins Dierdorf, was announced in 2016 after Sidney and Lois Eskenazi donated a $15 million gift to the project, along with several works from their personal art collection. 

Interior shot of light-filled, multi-story atrium
Ennead Architects updated the lighting system throughout the museum to best reflect the building and the art’s natural beauty. (Brad Feinknopf/OTTO)

Originally named the Indiana University Art Museum, the rebrand reflects the institution’s efforts to expand its status as one of the most esteemed teaching museums in the United States. It now hosts 11,000 college and graduate school students while providing learning programming for up to 5,000 local K-12 students. 

During the renovation, the team added room for the museum to display its more than 45,000 objects while also establishing space for its own centers for education, conservation, curatorial studies, and the study and display of prints, drawings, and photographs. They additionally designed a glass wall partition in the Asian and Islamic gallery that allows visitors to see into the Center for Conservation. The museum’s administrative offices were updated as well, and a sky bridge was built to connect the building’s east and west wings.