Trip to the Stout Reference Library

by aandrewwangg

Dale Chihuly's Fireworks of Glass

Dale Chihuly, Fireworks of Glass, The Children’s Museum, Indianapolis

On Sunday, February 21, SALS made a day trip to Indianapolis. Our first stop was the Children’s Museum, which turned out to be an eye-opening experience. The museum is free to children in the surrounding neighborhoods, and it’s evident that it is a major resource for the lower socioeconomic families in the city. Kudos to the person that decided to put a branch of the public library inside the museum! Also, the playful Chihuly sculpture is so appropriately placed in the center of the fully accessible ramp stairwell.

SALS members under the Chihuly sculpture

Under the Chihuly sculpture

Our next stop was the Indianapolis Museum of Art. After a quick lunch, we met with Alba Fernandez-Keys, the Head of Libraries & Archives, for a tour of the Stout Reference Library and a Q&A session. I had visited Alba and the Stout last year with SALS, but there was high demand to return this year by our new members (and I enjoyed the opportunity to hear from Alba again). Like last year, Alba was fantastically blunt and brutally honest about the current state of museum librarianship. Though we’re seeing more job postings–especially through ARLIS/NA–it’s clear that art museum librarianship positions are much rarer. The Stout, for instance, had to let go of two staff members in recent years due to budget cuts. Alba has absorbed those positions and is now responsible for overseeing fellows/interns/volunteers, cataloging, reference, acquisitions, special collections, and just about everything else related to the Stout. Despite this, Alba handles it with great energy and passion. As we gawked at the list of her responsibilities, she smiled and said, “I love my job.” It sounds daunting for some of us, but also undeniably inspirational.

Suspended books in the lobby of the Indianapolis Museum of Art

Suspended books in the lobby of the Indianapolis Museum of Art

We had some time to peruse the galleries after our meeting. I still can’t get over their African art collection. I’ve been to the IMA three or four times at this point and have yet to make it through the entire building, but I always find myself in the African art gallery. I also spent a good chunk of time with the contemporary design. Admittedly I overlooked design in the past, but have grown increasingly fascinated with contemporary design after researching MoMA’s acquisition of Björk and Scott Snibbe’s Biophilia app last semester. Unfortunately it’s one major area missing from the Indiana University Art Museum’s collections here in Bloomington. ~All the reason to return to Indy~