Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art 75th anniversary gala

IU Cinema
IU Bloomington
Bloomington, Indiana

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thank you very much, Jon [Vickers].

I am very pleased that two trustees of Indiana University have joined us this evening. Please join me in welcoming Trustee Phil Eskew and Anna Williams, our student trustee.

Laurie and I are delighted to be here this evening to help celebrate the 75th anniversary of one of Indiana University’s great treasures and one of the premiere university art museums in the world, the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art.

Let me stress that again—one of the premier university art museums in the world. But this is no idle boast. As Director Brenneman will tell you much more authoritatively than I can, the collection is both encyclopedic and replete with masterpieces that are equaled by very few art museums in the world, let alone a university art museum. Many of these are described in the pages of the Eskenazi Museum’s magnificent new guide to the collection.

Indiana University has long been deeply committed to the arts, not only because they are a vital part of a well-rounded education, but also because the university has long recognized that the quality of our culture and the quality of the arts are deeply and closely interconnected. In Churchill’s words, “Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due.”1 At IU, we also believe that the arts are essential in the development of citizens who are equipped to be productive and thoughtful participants in a changing world.

As Jon mentioned, many of you are dedicated supporters and patrons of not only the Eskenazi Art Museum, but also of the magnificent IU Cinema, one of the finest university cinemas in the country according to legends of the cinema such as Meryl Streep and Glenn Close. Many of you also support the wonderful IU Auditorium, whose 75th anniversary we celebrated earlier this year; IU’s highly-ranked Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance: and, of course, IU’s world-renowned Jacobs School of Music.

You support these museums and the artists who exhibit and perform in these spaces because you place great value on the vital role that the arts play in our lives.

Human experiences are sometimes so profound that words alone cannot give them full expression. Through art, people can express ideas and feelings in ways beyond words. Art can help us to frame our identities, and to envision the future.

Many of you came to appreciate these truths, I am sure, because of the influence of family members, mentors, or educators who instilled in you a love of learning, and an appreciation for all the great arts of civilization. For me, that person was my late mother, Joyce.

I know too, that as art lovers, many of you enjoy collecting and surrounding yourselves with works of art that speak to you personally, that move and inspire you, as do Laurie and I. Many of you also enjoy, as do Laurie and I, exploring the great museums and galleries of the United States and the world—and you value and respect these important institutions. Just a few weeks ago, we were dazzled by the extraordinary collection of Mesoamerican art in Mexico City’s magnificent National Museum of Anthropology.

You also deeply appreciate how truly fortunate we are to have, right here in Bloomington in the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, a museum with an acclaimed collection of art and other priceless artifacts from nearly every culture throughout history that has produced art—housed in a building designed by one of the greatest architects of the 20th century, I.M. Pei.

For 75 years, 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. It has provided countless students, faculty, staff, and members of the community with unparalleled opportunities to engage with the arts.

We owe an enormous debt of thanks to Sidney and Lois Eskenazi—two of Indiana’s greatest philanthropic leaders—for their recent extremely generous gift of $15 million in support of the renovation of the museum and for the gift of their own superlative art collection that they have so painstakingly and lovingly collected over many years.

Their generosity—and the philanthropy and volunteer service given by so many of you who are here this evening—will touch the lives of countless students, faculty, staff, and community members. It will greatly strengthen the standing of Indiana University’s art museum as an invaluable cultural resource, not just for Bloomington, but for the state, the region, and the nation.   

Thank you very much for joining us for tonight’s gala celebration and for all that you do for the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art and for Indiana University.

Now, it is my pleasure to introduce the provost of the Bloomington campus and executive vice president of Indiana University, Lauren Robel.

Source notes

  1. Sir Winston Churchill, remarks delivered to the Royal Academy of Arts, April 30, 1938, reprinted in Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches,1897-1963, volume 6, (Chelsea House/Bowker, 1974), 5949.