My daughter and I visited the Haan Mansion Museum of Indiana Art last weekend; I’d been wanting to check out this local gem for some time since the facility is only open during a few afternoons during the week. Wikipedia claims the Haan Museum houses the largest collection of Indiana art in the world. The massive home sites on several acres in the center of one of Lafayette historic neighborhoods just off South Ninth Street. Parking is available onsite, but you may park on State Street without much problem.
We presumed we would just browse the place ourselves, but after we signed in (at $10 a piece) we received a guided tour by Mrs. Haan herself – the woman is a walking wealth of information on all their exhibits and belongings, as well as the history of the building itself. (A little side note: I’m sure you already know the home was originally built for the 1904 World Fair in Saint Louis and is one of its few surviving structures, brought here to Lafayette in pieces by rail from the Fair. The fact that it survived the move, reconstruction and subsequent decades of decline here is amazing.)
I’m no art expert, but please note that if you are a fan of T.C. Steele, Adams, or other Hoosier Group/Brown County Art Colony artists, this faculty’s Indiana art will not disappoint – and after visiting and reviewing the Brown County Art Museum may be saying something. The period-specific, exquisitely crafted antique furniture and quirky surprises such as the Swiss-made music box (that’s as large as a foot locker) or it’s stamped tin disc-playing, ‘pre-stereo’ standup companion (that’s as large as a grandfather clock – which they have also), are all worth the price of admission. The pieces are huge but in scale with the massive rooms, staircase and open second floor railing.
Outside, the sculpture garden with nature trail has many interesting exhibits as well, though if they could invest in terraces with level gardens and more plantings it would make the site more accessible and useful. Several plaques with botanical information are posted under the mature trees. The mountain bike trail that meander through adjacent ravine properties are also owned and constructed by the Haans.
Please take the hour or two to tour this unique, well-maintained and posh repository of Indiana history. Obviously, this place has delicate displays and is probably not the excursion to bring children along. Their website posts special event throughout the year. I would attach pictures of specific pieces, but that’s not allowed. Of course, speaking of Southern Indiana artists, their collection can’t be perfect until they get a good John Mellencamp painting LOL!
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