I had an opportunity to return to my hometown Richmond, Indiana this past week where I stopped in at my high school to visit beautiful McGuire Hall. In addition to a lovely theatre space, this wing of the high school hosts one of the few in-school art museums in the country, Richmond Art Museum (RAM).
I marveled at the marble floors and carved wood doors and trim, the Tortoise fountain by famous sculptor Janet Scudder, and the current exhibits. They were featuring an exhibit of the works by local artist John Elwood Bundy (1853-1933). Famous for his many depictions of local scenes, especially the beeches and other sylvan scenes, at one time his work could be seen all over the area including libraries, businesses, restaurants and other locations, public and private.
The Richmond Art Museum (RAM) permanent collection is currently displaying a very nice collection of American Impressionists, regional artists and the famous Hoosier Group. William Merritt Chase’s self-portrait is on prominent display as are other of his works.
As a student, I remember walking past these famous paintings on my way to art classes which were held in this wing. I thought every high school had an art museum and only learned differently many years later. I remember being sent out of class to “draw something” and sitting on one of the marble staircases making my little watercolors. I’m sure this influenced my choice of career in art making.
Richmond has a long history of support of the arts and they still have an active art scene. There are many wonderful old homes in town and the city still holds much beauty, from the exquisite Whitewater River Valley, to Glen Miller Park, their rose garden, the famous Madonna of the Trails, and Earlham College.
Although regional art museums don’t get the same attention as do big city museums, if you’re in the area, I urge you to stop by the Richmond Art Museum which is open to the public. I’m sure you’ll find this small gem a pleasant surprise.