Eiteljorg museum leader John Vanausdall announces retirement plans

John Vanausdall was hired as president of the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in October 1996. (Photo provided by Casey Cronin)

Long-running Indianapolis museum executive John Vanausdall, who’s served as president of the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art since 1996 and previously worked for 18 years at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, announced on Thursday his retirement plans.

Indiana University alum Vanausdall will retire from his role as Eiteljorg president and CEO in June 2023 and assist in the transition to a successor selected by the museum’s board of directors through a search process with Bridge Partners, LLC.

The search committee plans to announce Vanausdall’s successor during the first quarter of 2023.

“I am tremendously proud of all the staff, board and community have accomplished together to help the Eiteljorg maximize its impact locally, regionally and nationally,” Vanausdall said in a written statement.

Among facility upgrades during Vanausdall’s tenure are newly redesigned Native American Galleries that opened in June on the second floor of the building that opened in 1989 as part of White River State Park. The $6 million renovation phased out displays arranged by geographic region and instead focuses on three themes: relation, continuation and innovation.

Funding for the project came from the $55 million Project 2021 capital and endowment campaign, which raised $40 million in cash and pledges for the museum’s endowment. The museum also renovated its children’s area and the Nina Mason Pulliam Education Center.

Vanausdall, 66, served as vice president and director of research and planning during his tenure at the Children’s Museum.

“For my part, I am looking forward to spending time in retirement with family and friends, traveling and finding new ways to be of service to others,” Vanausdall said. “I am tremendously excited for the future of the Eiteljorg Museum and the opportunities awaiting it.”

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