IU Art Museum receives $15 million gift from Sidney and Lois Eskenazi

Museum will be renamed in their honor; renovations planned

  • May 11, 2016


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Art Museum has announced a landmark gift of $15 million from Indianapolis-based philanthropists Sidney and Lois Eskenazi. This is the largest cash gift in the museum's history and a lead gift toward renovation of its I.M. Pei-designed building, which opened in 1982.

The museum will be renamed the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art in recognition of the couple's generosity, effective immediately.

In addition, thanks to the gift-matching program and other generous philanthropy of the "For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign," another $20 million will be invested by the university to be used for complete renovation and gallery enhancements at the museum. These improvements will be designed by noted museum designers, Susan T. Rodriguez of Ennead Architects of New York City and Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf of Indianapolis, and are anticipated to be completed by 2020.

The Eskenazis are also donating their collection of nearly 100 works of art, composed primarily of prints by 20th-century European and American masters. The collection includes a significant group of 34 etchings, lithographs and drawings by Spanish master Joan Miró from later in his career (1960s-1970s), complementing the museum's existing collection of 35 earlier Miró works from the 1930s to 1950s.

Other artists represented in the Eskenazi collection include Marc Chagall, Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso, Sam Francis, Tom Wesselmann, Jean Dubuffet, Salvador Dali and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. This gift also marks the first works by Keith Haring and Paul Jenkins to enter the museum's collection.

One of the foremost university art museum collections in the country, the Eskenazi Museum of Art's encyclopedic collection contains more than 45,000 objects from ancient to modern times, including one of the country's leading holdings of art from Africa, the South Pacific and the Americas, as well as an extraordinary collection of modern and contemporary art.

"For 75 years, the Indiana University Art Museum in Bloomington has been one of the premier university art museums in the world and home to an acclaimed collection of works of art and other important artifacts from nearly every culture throughout history that has produced art," IU President Michael A. McRobbie said. "The museum has been a superb complement to IU's internationally renowned programs in the arts and humanities and has enabled IU to share these riches with the world.

"On behalf of Indiana University, I want to offer our most sincere thanks to Sidney and Lois Eskenazi for their extraordinary, generous gift, which will help with a much-needed renovation and restoration of the magnificent I.M. Pei building that houses the museum's collection, and also for the gift of their own superb art collection that they have so painstakingly and lovingly collected over many years. In light of these gifts, we are delighted that IU's iconic art museum will now be known as the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art. Over the years, the Eskenazis have been great supporters of Indiana University, and this remarkable gift is yet a further example of their wonderful commitment to IU."

"This incredibly generous gift from the Eskenazis in support of the art museum is heartening and uplifting -- but it is hardly surprising. In the many years I have had the pleasure of knowing Sid and Lois, they have consistently demonstrated a deep-seated love for the students of Indiana University and an unwavering commitment to enriching the student experience on the Bloomington campus," said Indiana University Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel.

"This is a tremendous moment for the art museum, and we couldn't be more grateful to Sidney and Lois for this incredible leadership gift toward the renovation," said David A. Brenneman, the museum's Wilma E. Kelley Director. "It seems only fitting that we are embarking on this exciting new chapter with the renaming and renovation as we celebrate the museum's 75th anniversary this year.

"The Eskenazi Museum is an incredible resource for the students, faculty, the Bloomington community and the entire state of Indiana, and we will continue to look for ways to engage new audiences and foster the interdisciplinary collaborations made possible by being a part of Indiana University. We look forward to sharing more details about this exciting project later this year."

"With this gift we are combining two of our greatest passions: Indiana University and art," Sidney and Lois Eskenazi said in a statement. "We are delighted that our collection, which we have loved building and living with, will find a home at the museum. We are excited to be a part of such a transformative project for the museum and the university, and we know that the newly renovated museum will be a go-to destination on campus and for the entire Bloomington community."

The Eskenazi gift will be counted in the university's larger capital campaign, "For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign," which is taking place on all IU campuses, including IU Bloomington, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, IU East, IU Kokomo, IU Northwest, IU South Bend and IU Southeast. The $2.5 billion campaign will conclude in December 2019 to coincide with IU’s bicentennial year celebration in 2020.

In addition to the renovation, the Eskenazi Museum is committed to raising funds for endowments that will greatly enhance the museum's exemplary education program, which serves more than 11,000 university students and more than 4,500 K-12 students from southern and central Indiana each year.

About Sidney and Lois Eskenazi: Sidney and Lois Eskenazi are recognized philanthropic leaders in central Indiana. Sidney Eskenazi grew up in Indianapolis, and both he and Lois Eskenazi are Indiana University graduates. Lois Eskenazi earned a bachelor's degree that enabled her to work as a medical and lab technician, and Sidney earned a Bachelor of Science as well as a Doctor of Jurisprudence. Sidney established a successful real estate development company, Sandor Development Co., in 1963 and has built it into one of the nation's leaders, with 129 properties under management in 23 states. In addition to real estate development, Sidney has been a member of both the Indiana and the Illinois bar associations for more than 50 years.

The Eskenazis are longtime donors to Indiana University, starting in 1970 when Sidney established a scholarship fund. They have also supported the arts and art students by giving to the Herron School of Art and Design on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus, where Eskenazi Hall bears their name.

In 2011, the Eskenazis contributed $40 million for a new hospital and medical campus in Indianapolis now known as the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital and Eskenazi Health, which at the time was one of the largest gifts to a public hospital in the United States.

About the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art: Since Indiana University first established a small teaching collection in 1941, the museum has grown into one of the foremost university art museums in the country. Today, the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art includes more than 45,000 objects representing nearly every art-producing culture throughout history. Its internationally acclaimed collection features items as varied as ancient African masks and paintings by Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso.

Eskenazi Museum collection highlights include one of only two existing complete sets of Marcel Duchamp's "Readymades" from 1964; a Jackson Pollock action painting (No. 11); and one of the world’s most significant ancient jewelry collections with more than 5,000 objects.

Housed in an iconic building designed by architect I.M. Pei, the Eskenazi Museum serves as a cultural and research resource to students, faculty, and the broader Bloomington and Indianapolis communities. The Eskenazi Museum of Art is free and open to the public Tuesday to Sunday.

Video available: Raw video interviews with the Eskenazis and David A. Brenneman are available to news organizations upon request; contact Ryan Piurek, director of strategic communications, Bloomington, at rpiurek@iu.edu or 812-855-5393.

Related Links

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Media Contacts

Ryan Piurek

Director of Strategic Communications, Bloomington

  • Office 812-855-5393
  • Cell 812-340-1018
  • rpiurek@iu.edu

Abe  Morris

Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art Manager of Public Relations and Marketing

  • Office 812-855-9647
  • abamorri@iu.edu

Ilana Simon Rubin 

For media outside of Indiana

  • Resnicow and Associates
  • Office 720-746-9552
  • irubin@resnicow.com

Adriana Elgarresta 

For media outside of Indiana

  • Resnicow and Associates
  • Office 212-671-5153
  • aelgarresta@resnicow.com