As a result of John Herron's gift, the John Herron Art Institute (museum and professional art school) was established in 1902. Its buildings were officially dedicated in 1906. Herron's Italian Renaissance style Museum building, previously located at 1701 North Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, was designed by Vonnegut and Bohn architects. Herron’s Main Building was designed by Paul Philip Cret in 1929 and was the second facility in the nation designed expressly for art education. Herron's first core faculty included painters T. C. Steele, most influential in Brown County, J. Ottis Adams, William Forsyth, Richard Gruelle, sculptor Rudolph Schwarz, and Otto Stark.
The Herron Museum's art collection formed the nucleus of what would become the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which separated from the school in 1970. Today, the Indianapolis Museum of Art is one of the largest art museums in the United States.
In 1967 the Herron School of Art became a school of Indiana University and two years later, part of Indiana University Purdue University–Indianapolis (IUPUI), located near the center of downtown Indianapolis.
With enrollments soaring and the plan to physically relocate to the IUPUI campus, Herron launched its first capital campaign in 1999 to raise funds for two new buildings. With one-third funding from the state and the generosity of many private donors, corporations and foundations, Herron opened a new sculpture and ceramics facility in 2000, and Eskenazi Hall in 2005.
To learn more about Herron’s rich history, purchase a copy of The Herron Chronicle. This book is a must-have for Herron alumni, donors, or anyone with a passion for history and art. Written by Harriet G. Warkel, Martin F. Krause, and S. L. Berry and published in 2002, The Herron Chronicle provides a captivating record of the school’s history, from the gifted teachers and students who toiled over artistic projects at Herron to the evolution of the institution. The book includes illustrations of more than 200 historic photographs and rediscovered paintings, which depict the ever-changing periods and culture of the school.
The $25 book can be purchased by calling (317) 278-9469 with your request.
The work of Herron students, faculty, and alumni has marked the Indianapolis landscape for a century. The city’s centerpiece, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Monument Circle, features sculpture by former Herron faculty member Rudolph Schwarz. Herron graduate Rik Tommasone designed the first-ever Lilly Medal, awarded biannually to the recipient of the Indianapolis Prize, the world’s leading award for animal conservation given by the Indianapolis Zoo. Internationally known artist and Herron alumnus Don Gummer was commissioned by the City of Indianapolis, Eli Lilly and Company, Kite Companies, and Herron to create a piece of public art. Today his Southern Circle stands tall on Meridian Street Plaza. These are just some of the Herron stories that reflect the school’s civic engagement; which starts at home, but extends well beyond the Midwestern United States to far-flung places.