Indiana University Indiana University IU

About the project

In June 2019, the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art received a generous estate gift of approximately $4 million from the late Indiana philanthropist Jane Fortune, who was a passionate advocate for women in the arts and founder of the Florence, Italy–based nonprofit Advancing Women Artists. Born and raised in Indianapolis, Fortune was an author, art historian, art collector, philanthropist, and cultural editor. Her commitment to supporting female artists has been recognized around the world.

Fortune’s most recent endeavor, A Space of Their Own, brings together research by Advancing Women Artists, the Eskenazi Museum of Art, and IU to build the world’s largest database on international female artists from the 1500s to the 1800s. Research for the database is led by Eskenazi Museum of Art Director Emerita Adelheid “Heidi” Gealt. A Space of Their Own will provide the most comprehensive resource to date of information on female painters, printmakers, and sculptors active in the United States and Europe between the 16th and 19th centuries.

About Jane's Gift

Jane Fortune’s gift to the museum includes a collection of 61 works of fine art as well as funds to establish the Dr. Jane Fortune Endowment for Women Artists and the Dr. Jane Fortune Fund for Virtual Advancement of Women Artists. The Eskenazi Museum of Art recognized Fortune’s generosity by naming its first-floor gallery of American and European Art from Medieval to 1900 the “Jane Fortune Gallery.”

Fortune’s gift of her collection includes works by female artists, photographs, and contemporary art. Among the highlights are a rare drawing by Sister Plautella Nelli, whose work has come to light through Fortune’s tireless efforts to identify and conserve works by female Florentine artists; a rare cyanotype photograph by the nineteenth-century British pioneer of photography, Anna Atkins; and a wall-mounted work by Ghanaian-born artist El Anatsui, the first work by that major contemporary artist to enter the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s collection. Some of the works from Fortune’s collection can be viewed in the galleries.

About the museum

Since its establishment in 1941, the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art has grown from a small university teaching collection into one of the most significant university art collections in the United States. A preeminent teaching museum on the Indiana University campus, its internationally acclaimed collection includes more than 45,000 objects representing nearly every art-producing culture throughout history.

The museum just undertook a $30 million renovation of its acclaimed I.M. Pei-designed building. When it reopens in the fall, the museum will be an enhanced teaching resource for Indiana University and southern Indiana. The museum is dedicated to engaging students, faculty, artists, scholars, alumni, and the wider public through the cultivation of new ideas and scholarship.

The Eskenazi Museum of Art is funded by your philanthropy.