The Lily family (of Eli Lily) donated the land for the museum and the company ensures that there is no admission to the museum. This is one of the drawing factors to make the haul up to this lush but relatively isolated northwest corner of the city.
Like any other art museum, there is the collection and there are the exhibitions. Both meander between classical, modern and contemporary art. You can look at impressionist paintings or be immersed in a full, audio-visual experience. Doing the entire museum in a day is possible, but you'll miss one of the best parts, which is just outside.
The campus for the museum includes the Lily house and a large expanse of diverse plants and trees made into a botanical gardens and arboretum. Tours are offered of the house, but you can walk around yourself throughout the grounds.
I found this place to be very interesting. It had three exhibits, that I remember: European Art, Asian Art, and Contemporary/Modern Art. I actually looked through the Asian and Modern Art exhibits. The Modern Art part included Do-Ho Suh and Kara Walker among others. Suh's piece was really cool. You could actually walk on it...interact with it. The Asian exhibit was expansive. It many articles of artistic and historical significance from all sorts of cultures and time-periods in Asia. I really enjoyed it. I would recommend seeing this museum if you enjoy art, history, and learning in general.
The Art museum is a great place to spend the day. Not only is there a great central museum with wonderful art works, there additional galleries out on the grounds. Take a stroll through the garden/grounds. Enjoy the trees and the outdoor artworks and stop in the other galleries and the cousy? little gazebo refreshment area. It's a day you'll enjoy.
The fees (2007) were $7.00 (adult), fre (kids), $5.00 (seniors).
I like the IMA. There is always something new happening there. Right now they have the asian art gallery that just reopened. It was closed for probably 2 years, because they remodeled the entire building. It looks very modern and beautiful. The first floor is the check in, the gift shop, and a cool little restaurant called "Puck's" after the famous chef Wolfgang Puck. The second floor is changing gallerys, currently they have quilts there and they have the gallerys of old rembrant style paintings. The third floor is the asian, african, and indian art. Then on the 4th floor they have contemporary and modern art. This one is my favorite. They have some crazy rooms that are places that are experiences. But don't forget to take off your shoes to enter those!
*Another quick tip~
Go on a thursday, it is free! And nothing is better than free!
UPDATE: beginning 2007, general admission is free!
This brand new museum is just now opening (dec 2005) in a fantastic new building. Not all the galleries will open until the end of 2006. The current exhibit of American Art is OK but not worth a special visit. Once the european galleries are open this should be a first class art museum.
It's not the same as the Chicago Institue of Art, where I walk around for hours with my jaw down around my knees. But it's a good gallery. It doesn't really boast any outstanding, well-known masterpieces (though that's admittedly a pretty subjective statement), but there's a nice variety of modern and classical works, along with rotating exhibits. Free parking and admission. Nice gardens surrounding the buildings.