You don’t want to judge this book by its cover. From the outside, The Carnegie Center for Art and History looks like any city museum or library, but underneath its inconspicuous façade lies a brave and vibrant essence. We talked to the Center’s director, Eileen Yanoviak who has her pulse of the local arts and cultural community to discuss southern Indiana’s blossoming art scene.
R: So what is the Carnegie Center and what role do you play in Southern Indiana?
E: The Carnegie Center is really the anchor institution in downtown New Albany; we've been here first as a library since 1904 and now as a museum for over 30 years. So we really are a cultural and arts hub, and we feel like we drive a lot of visitation to downtown New Albany.
R: If there's a family coming in from out of town, only here a couple of days, what kind of things could you offer them?
E: Well the great thing about the Carnegie Center is you can come here, get an art experience with our contemporary art galleries, you can get a history experience with our award-winning Underground Railroad exhibition, and you can even get historic architecture. So that is all nestled in downtown New Albany, which is such a charming walking district where you can eat and shop; so it's really a great package.
R: What’s coming up in 2020? What are some things that folks can look out for from the Carnegie Center?
E: Well, a couple of things we're really excited about is a big project that actually isn't even in the building. It's a new skate-able work of art on the waterfront called the New Albany "Flow Park." It is a public art project where we've turned a skate park into an Ohio River scene; so it’s got a skate-able steamboat feature, a riverfront and even if you're not a skater, is a really fun thing to see and it’s a part of that growing Ohio River Greenway Project. So that's exciting and will open by the end of the year. We're really going to start programming around that in 2020. But if we come back into the building, some of the things we're looking forward to are innovative exhibitions. We'll have an artificial intelligence exhibition featuring all women working in technology, so that's exciting too; we'll also have some new family programming and continue our Night at the Carnegie programming geared toward young professionals. So lots of events happening, lots of great exhibitions and of course our ongoing exhibitions that will keep bringing people back.
R: So I guess if you're visiting Southern Indiana bring your skateboards, bring your roller-blades, bring your-
E: Absolutely, yeah! It’s even walkable, and accessible for people with disabilities. It’s really going to be a fun spot. So yes, bring your skateboards, or, if you're like me, you might be bringing your little Razor Scooter.
R: So let’s talk a little bit about what the Carnegie Center offers for families. Anything else that families can look out for, maybe they have little ones or even teenagers. What are some of the things that they can do?
E: Well, one of the great things we have is the hands-on space that is always available. For families that are worried about bringing kids to museums, first of all, I say "bring 'em, we like noise, we like kids," and we also have a hands-on space where kids can actually test out materials: build things with magnets, felt boards; and really it’s all ages, we see kids come in all the time playing with our water paintings. So it gives kids a chance to take a break from the learning part of it and really get to experiment and use their hands. Then we have our family fun activities once a month. Those are gallery storytimes with an art activity, drop-in, and make-and-take experience. And the wonderful thing is that it’s all free, so it’s an affordable option for families.
R: What do you feel the future holds for the art community in Southern Indiana, not only in New Albany, but throughout this region? How do you feel about the future of the arts in this area?
E: Well I'm really excited about what the future holds because I see us coming together as arts organizations and really starting to partner to think about how we can grow the sector as a whole, and make it a really appealing place to visit. So, we have great partners like NoCo’s Dawn Spiker; we have organizations in downtown New Albany that help build that argument, and I see lots of great public art in the future, more art festivals. Those kinds of activities that really gain momentum for the art sector as a whole.
R: What are some places that you may recommend? Of course, the Carnegie Center is an amazing institution here, but what are some other things that people who are interested in the arts should do around here?
E: Sure, so I think of performance venues like Theater Works, and the Ogle Center, which offers really wonderful performing arts and the Derby Dinner Playhouse, so I always want to recommend those. Those are great ways to spend your evenings after the art museums close. I think the NoCo Arts District in Jeffersonville is really exciting. I see them really growing and having a great vision for the future of that program. We are starting to get more and more local galleries, so if you want to see what the local art scene is like, we show local artists but we also show national artists. If you want to see the makers in town, check out the local art galleries like Art Seed. I think those are really great institutions all-around Southern Indiana that can give you a picture of what it's like to be interested in the arts here.
R: Where can people find out more information about the Carnegie Center, looking to visit or get involved?
E: Sure, Carnegiecenter.org, of course, is a great place to look. We're very present on Facebook. Lots of our events get posted there. All of our events are free, so that's really exciting and you can see them listed there and register that way as well.
R: Thank you, Eileen.
E: Thanks, Russell.