Bloomington isn’t just an artistic oasis in the state of Indiana—it might just be one of the cutest small towns in the Midwest, about four hours away from both Chicago and St. Louis. While Indiana University does contribute significantly to Bloomington’s art scene, the town itself can really hold its own. Here are some recommendations for a creative weekend getaway.
See a performance at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. Built in 1922 as a silent movie house, the theater is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and its glowing “Indiana” marquee is one of the town’s landmark jewels. They host around 200 events throughout the year, making it one of the most active community theaters in the nation. If you’re in town at the right time, don’t miss the Lotus World Music & Arts Festival or the Pride Film Festival.
Visit the Kinsey Institute Gallery. Yes, this is the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, created by Dr. Alfred Kinsey in 1947. While the library itself is not open to the public (only to qualified sex scholars), their gallery is open Monday through Friday and it’s a gem. It’s modestly sized, but the collection is quite diverse, well curated, and of course pretty arousing. Amazingly, admission is free.
Do the Downtown Gallery Walk. This is your chance to sample the work of talented local artists outside the university, which admittedly tends to dominate the scene in this town. You can try this as a self-guided tour or wait for one of their Friday night receptions.
Hear a concert at the Indiana University School of Music. The quality of music here is world-class, rivaling the likes of The Juilliard School, and performances are generally open to the public at low prices. The operas in particular are expertly produced, the jazz program is highly acclaimed, and any classical music is a great bet (alums include superstar violinist Joshua Bell).
Visit the Mathers Museum of World Cultures. This museum is not only fun for anthropology neophytes, it’s an incredible research institution devoted to preserving the objects of the global human experience, past and present. Admission is free, and don’t skip their colorful gift shop.
Where do you go to find art in Indiana?