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Saturday, June 1 • 9:45am - 10:15am
(Textiles + Wooden Artifacts) Challenges and Compromise: Preserving the Miller House (Textiles)

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In 2009 the Indianapolis Museum of Art acquired the Miller House and Garden, an important mid-century modern residence in Columbus, IN. The house and garden were designed collaboratively by architect Eero Saarinen, interior designer and architect Alexander Girard and landscape architect Dan Kiley, at a time when each was at the height of their creative output. The house features flowing open spaces filled with light, achieved through a system of skylights, and expansive windows that integrate the surrounding landscape with the interior of the house. J. Irwin Miller, a successful industrialist, his wife Xenia, and their five children occupied the house from the time it was completed in 1957 until Mrs. Miller’s death in 2008. During this 50 year period the Millers acquired many significant works of art, including Monet’s Waterlilies, pieces by Picasso, Matisse, Bonnard, Chagall and others, but remained true to the modernist visions of Saarinen, Kiley and Girard in maintaining the house. This paper will present an overview of Girard’s use of textiles in the house, our understanding of the evolution of these textiles over time, aspects of preparing the house for public access, decision making around use and interpretation, and will examine inherent characteristics of the house and their impact on preservation. Limited resources and the short time line between acquisition of the house and its opening to the public in the spring of 2011 have necessitated a phased approach to conservation and the implementation of preventive practices. These factors will also be discussed while sharing the story of our care of the house to date, and plans for expanding this care into the future.


Kathleen Kiefer

Senior Conservator of Textiles, Indianapolis Museum of Art

Saturday June 1, 2013 9:45am - 10:15am EDT
JW Marriott White River Ballroom C-D 10 S West St Indianapolis, IN 46204

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