70 Artists. 3 days. ‘Nuff said.

by Joanna Hahn, Manager of Arts and Culture Programs

70 Indiana artists.  Three days.  The Indiana State Museum.  What more is there to say?  We are gearing up for the ninth annual Indiana Art Fair and, despite the warmer weather of late, this is still the winter art event in Indiana. We are featuring artists from 24 counties on all three floors of the museum. Ceramics, fiber, painting, mixed media, jewelry … the list just goes on!

We are excited to kick things off on Friday, Feb. 17 at 6 p.m with a preview event. The artists will be selling until 8:30 and, while you are here, make a night of it! Gigi’s Cupcakes and Cabot Creamery will have treats available or enjoy dinner in the L.S. Ayres Tea Room. A cash bar will provide drinks and, this year, d’Indy String Quartet will play music in the Great Hall. On top of that, the museum exhibitions will be open. Visit REPRESENT: Celebrating Indiana’s African-American Artists, featuring work from the likes of William Edouard Scott, as well as contemporary artists. Heartland Art features work from the fine art collection of the Indiana State Museum. This is also the last weekend to view The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition featuring striking photography from his epic journey in 1914. Admission to the Friday evening Indiana Art Fair preview event is free for museum members and only $5.50 for non-members!

The event continues Friday, Feb. 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 19 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  On Saturday, 240° Sweet will be on hand making fresh gourmet marshmallows for tasting and, on Sunday, Good’s Chocolate from Anderson, Indiana, will hand out caramels. Both will be at the Indiana Store from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Our media sponsor, WFYI, will also have an information table. Admission to the Indiana Art Fair on Saturday and Sunday is only $3 for museum members and $10 for non-members.

Come and support local art and craft as well as your Indiana State Museum!

From Toyland to Celebration Crossing

by Mary Jane Teeters-Eichacker, Curator of Social History

It all started with a train. When L.S. Ayres closed its downtown flagship store in 1990, it donated its iconic Santa Claus Express miniature train to the Indiana State Museum along with the L.S. Ayres animated window and Tea Room memorabilia. The train had been the centerpiece of Ayres’ “Toyland” since 1958, and given holiday joy to generations of Hoosiers. The museum couldn’t let that tradition die! So it opened a new holiday exhibit, “Toy Soldiers’ Playground,” so called because some giant toy soldier figures were available as decorations. The exhibit included a ride on the Santa Claus Express train, a visit to Santa Claus and the L.S. Ayres window, as well as toys and examples from the L.S. Ayres clothing collection in the Victorian setting of the museum’s former home in old City Hall. The recreated L.S. Ayres Tea Room began as a wildly popular program offered in conjunction with this exhibit.

When the new museum opened in 2002, the familiar features continued, but our building isn’t very Victorian! The exhibit needed a new setting; the village of Celebration Crossing. A few years later the original train was reproduced in a larger size to dependably accommodate today’s bigger youngsters. The old train remains a memorable “photo op” in the museum’s lobby, while new memories can be made in the popular exhibit upstairs.

Celebration Crossing opens Nov. 25 and continues through Dec. 31. Santa will be visiting with children in his house through Dec. 24.

Jello? Really?

Written by Jourdan Struck, sales associate with the Indiana Store

Food. Many things come to mind when I think of food. Mostly good, some not so good and others just down right strange. I have noticed since beginning this project that the food that we eat has changed. Or maybe it’s that in today’s world we have more options? Whatever the reason, people today seem to have branched out with their palate. I read somewhere that it wasn’t until the 1970s that American cuisine was significantly influenced by other cultures. If this is the case, that would explain why things have changed drastically since the 1950s.

As I perused the previous L.S. Ayres Tea Room cookbook something struck me; people liked Jello and Jello molds a lot. Maybe this is so striking to me because my childhood did not consist of eating much jello or using jello molds. All I remember is being entertained by Bill Cosby and his Jello commercials. I do realize that my childhood may have been abnormal due to the lack of Jello. I am quite sure that there is a logical explanation for the prevalence of Jello in the 1950s. Would someone please explain this to me?

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Those were the days!

Written by Jourdan Struck, sales associate with the Indiana Store

Digging deep to find the treasures in the archives!

The L.S. Ayres Tea Room Cookbook project was mentioned to me the day I was hired. I tend to volunteer for things fairly readily, so I am not surprised that the words “I can do that” came tumbling out of my mouth. What did surprise me was the response from my boss, “Well, ok! Great!” I was a little startled that my boss would let the “new girl” tackle such an auspicious project, but I am excited to tackle it.

In the past month, as I have contemplated and discussed with others ideas for where this cookbook will go, I have become very excited about all the possibilities. I have begun to do research on the L.S. Ayres Department Store along with the L.S. Ayres Tea Room. I have asked my grandparents, parents and friends to tell me what they remember about their own journeys to The L.S. Ayres Tea Room and the Department Store. With the help of Katherine Gould, assistant curator of cultural history for the Indiana State Museum, I have begun looking through the museum archives at old Ayrogram Magazines and Ayrespeople (monthly store publications) that date back to 1944,  in search of recipes and the occasional blurb about The L.S. Ayres Tea Room.

Luncheon fare from the tea room during the 1950s.

I was expecting to find those things and I have, but what I wasn’t expecting was to be completely amazed at how different society was in the heyday of the L.S. Ayres Department Store and The L.S. Ayres Tea Room. I am 26. I have no clue what it was like to be alive in the post WWII era or in the 1960s, but this project is forcing me to think about what it would have been like to be a little girl, all dressed up in my Sunday best, to go shopping and eat lunch at L.S. Ayres. Gone are the days of dressing up to go shopping and gone are the days of shopping being a special thing. Gone are the days of going to a special restaurant to practice manners and eating with your elbows off the table. As I think about this different time period, I can’t help but compare it to now. It seems to me that there was an innocence and youthful hopefulness that I think we have lost. Don’t get me wrong, there are many things that we have today that I would miss if I was somehow transported back to the 1950s, but just think what our society would be like without so much T.V., a few more manners and a little less cynicism.

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Looking for memories of the L.S. Ayres Tea Room

Written by Susan Johnson, Retail Operations Manager at the Indiana State Museum

One of the most interesting parts of my job handling retail operations for the museum is the opportunity to work with our curators and staff to develop new things to sell in the museum store. Along that line, I realized when I took over this position a few months back, that our ever popular L.S. Ayres Tea Room Cookbook is now 12 years old. Seems to me like this is a good time to put together a second edition. L.S. Ayres published hundreds of recipes in the old employee publications and newspapers through the years and I’ve had so many people ask me why certain recipes were left out of the cookbook. Cuts had to be made somewhere, I suppose, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to locate more of those old recipes to share.

This will not be a small project and it’s going to take a little time. Right now I’m shooting to have this second edition published for Mother’s Day of 2011. We’ll see if we can make that self-imposed deadline. I’ve asked a small group of people to help me out with this project so I can ensure that we move forward. Jourdan Struck, one of our new staff members with the museum store, will be helping me research and test recipes. I’ve also asked her to write about her journey for our museum blog. Jourdan is enthusiastic, loves to cook and has a journalism degree from Ball State so I’m excited to have her on board. Katherine Gould, the Assistant Curator of Cultural History for the Indiana State Museum, is helping us wade through several boxes of old Ayres documents and photographs from the archives to help us in our search for unpublished recipes. Along the way she will be scanning recipes and old menus for our digital archives. I’m also happy to say that Head Chef Jon Michael Gioe, with the L.S. Ayres Tea Room at the museum, has volunteered to help us out along the way with testing and interpreting the recipes we find. He’ll give this second edition some cooking credibility.

Along with collecting recipes and articles about the Tea Room for our second edition, we’re also going to take this opportunity to collect some Tea Room memories from our visitors that we might add to the book. So please, if you have any old recipes from the Tea Room or a memory you’d like to share, please let us know. I’m sure we can use all the help we can get.

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