“Indiana’s only statewide advocate and information resource for Hoosier museums.” SITE MAP
Association of Indiana Museums
PO Box 1883
Indianapolis, IN 46206
Phone: 317-234-5255
Fax: 317-233-0857

Special Thanks To:
Indiana Art Commisson

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Compiled in July 1992 by Carol N. Vincent, previous AIM President

An Idea Is Born

The Association of Indiana Museums was founded on July 11, 1972, at a meeting held at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis.  The organization arose out of meetings initiated by the Indiana Arts Commission.

Dr. Michael Warlum, Executive Director of the Arts Commission, presided at a meeting in September 1970 at the Indiana State Museum.  There were 23 individuals representing 17 organizations at the meeting.  Participants reviewed touring exhibits and technical assistance available within the state.  The meeting concluded with consensus that needs among museums included more communication, an assessment of the state's collections, increased restoration and conservation knowledge, and financial support.

It was at this meeting also that Richard McAllister of the Indiana State Museum suggested that an Indiana museums association be formed.  Consensus was that Mildred Compton, Director of the Children's Museum in Indianapolis, should lead the initiative to launch such an organization.

On October 26, 1970, at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, representatives from 11 organizations discussed the establishment of such an organization.  The meeting was chaired by Mrs.Compton.  These conclusions were reached:  1. there should be a survey of organizations in the 92 Indiana counties; 2. a newsletter should be published; and 3. workshops should be held to provide training at the basic level for non-professionals.

Early Years


A survey of organizations which might have a museum was undertaken in 1971 with John M. Harris (Children's Museum) chairing the effort.  Of the 310 questionnaires sent, 94 were returned.  One of the key questions was to find out how many organizations operated museums and what their desires were  regarding educational workshops and the establishment of a state organization for museums.   Of  the 94 responses, 85 operated museums or were about to open one.  Approximately 85% felt a state-wide organization would be beneficial.  The five most often requested workshop topics were exhibits, public relations, finances, volunteers, and conservation.


The first newsletter, called the Indiana Museums Bulletin, was published in January 1971 and was produced by the Indiana Historical Society under the leadership of Hubert H. Hawkins.  He was assisted by Mrs. Compton, Dr. Warlum, William Baugh of Lafayette, and Glenn Anderson of Anderson.


The first workshop was planned for Spring 1971 in Indianapolis and covered the subject "Exhibits for Small Museums".  The second workshop in Fall 1971 was held at Ball State Art Gallery in Muncie and addressed the topic "Recording Your Collections". Organizers were satisfied that they had successfully reached 23 individuals representing 12 museums.


The Association of Indiana Museums may be unlike many organizations in that it had a communication vehicle and an education vehicle and had conducted a statewide survey before it was officially founded.

At its founding meeting on July 11, 1972, By-laws and a Constitution were adopted.  This did not occur easily, however; several drafts were prepared and revised before they were approved.  It was not until April 26, 1973, that AIM was incorporated.


Computerized Inventory of State Museums' Collections

The largest project undertaken by AIM in its first 20 years was conceived during AIM's beginning months.  It was to be a statewide inventory of art, history, and ethnology objects.  A source of much planning, hard work, fund-raising efforts, and problem solving by AIM's Board of Trustees, it nonetheless fell primarily onto the shoulders of Nikki Anderson Black to see it through its six years. 

During the inventory stage of the project, student inventoriers were hired and managed by the project's Director, Bob Starrett who had retired from the Indiana State Museum system.

The $202,000 project received financial support from the Indiana American Revolution Bicentennial Commission, Indiana Arts Commission, Lilly Endowment, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Arthur Jordan Foundation.

The final report on the project was published in the 1986 issue of “Museogram”.

Assessment of Indiana Museums Status and Needs

In 1988, the AIM Board began laying the groundwork for developing a long-range plan.  From this process came the impetus for the Museums Assessment Study.

The surveys were conducted in 1990 and 1991 by the POLIS Research Center at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.  The project was directed by Lamont J. Hulse of POLIS who had formerly been an AIM Board member.  Mr. Hulse was assisted by Carole Darst who had been a former AIM Program Chair.  Michael Hawfield (Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society), AIM's President from 1988 to 1990, served as the Advisory Task Force Chair.

This $97,000 project received cash funding from the Institute of Museum Services, Foellinger Foundation, Indiana Arts Commission, Nicholas Noyes Jr. Memorial Foundation, Ball Brothers Foundation, Lincoln National Life Foundation, Indiana Humanities Council, and PSI Energy.  In addition, a considerable amount of volunteer services and time were contributed as well from Indiana corporations, museums, and individuals.

A complete report on the results of the assessment was published by the Association in 1991 and sent free of charge to all of the state's museums.  It was also sent free, upon request, to the state's museum staff members as well as state and national organizations.



The Association's communication vehicle is the ”Bulletin”.  It has been published continuously since before the organization began.  Its editors are all volunteers, and each editor has brought his/her own particular style to the publication.

Originally conceived as a quarterly publication, it has been published randomly through the years depending upon the time availability of its editor.  In more recent years it has been a bi-monthly publication.  The most issues published by any one editor is 28, produced by Gertrude "Lucky" Ward (Joseph Moore Museum) who was editor from early 1985 until late 1989.  Other editors have included John Harris (1972), Nikki Anderson (1973-74), Carol N. Waddell (1975-79), Joanne Powell (1979-81), Cathy Donnelly (1981), Geoffrey Huys (1982-85), Sue Small (1990), Oren Cooley (1991-92), and Tiffany Sallee.


Through the years, the Association has continuously been eager to know how many and what types of museums there are in the state. In 1978, the Association published its first directory of the state's known museums.  It has been obvious that the directory serves a very important need, for each subsequent issue has included more museums and more information about these museums.  The first directory included 91 complete and 72 incomplete entries.  The 1992 edition included 222 complete and 36 incomplete entries.

The “Directory” has been published in 1978, 1980, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1990, and 1992.  Carol Waddell served as editor during the period 1978-88.  In 1990 she was assisted by Robin Lipp (Children's Museum of Indianapolis); Ms. Lipp then became the directory's editor in 1992.


The need for a periodic publication of professional papers became apparent following the publication of the contents of the workshop sessions on Collection Management held in 1977 in Fort Wayne.

The title ”Museogram was selected for a publication of key issues, and the first one was published in 1980 with Joanne Powell (Indiana University) as its editor.  This first edition included a survey of Indiana legislation pertaining to museums.  The 1981 issue was edited by Annette Fromm also of IU and included articles on gifted children and professional (director) and amateur (trustee) relations.

Carol Slotkin edited the 1982 and 1984 issues which included articles on outdoor museums and computerization.  The 1985 issue was edited by Carol Waddell and included articles on theater and museums as well as importance/performance evaluations.  In 1986, Carol Waddell was joined by Ruth Mills-Varnell (Richmond Art Museum) as co-editor, and topics included Art Smart and museum maintenance.  Ruth Mills-Varnell continued as editor in 1988 and 1990.  Topics included interagency cooperation, couriering works of art, and repatriation policies.


The initial goal of the fledgling organization to provide statewide workshops has been extremely well met.  Two workshops were held during 1971 and covered the topics of exhibits and recording collections.

In 1972, two additional workshops were held, both in Indianapolis.  One in July at the founding meeting covered exhibits, and one in the Fall focused on public relations.  Subsequently, AIM has held at least three workshops every year covering a wide range of topics and at varying locations throughout the state, with one each year held at centrally located Indianapolis.  It is significant that with only volunteer effort AIM has managed to cover such significant topics in such a timely fashion.

Following is a listing of topics and locations in the state:


  • Policy and funding procedures  Indianapolis    
  • Conservation     Indianapolis    
  • Publicity and public relations   Indianapolis 


  • Paper Conservation    Fort Wayne   
  • Security     Indianapolis    
  • Exhibit Techniques    Indianapolis


  • Grantsmanship    Lafayette   
  • Interpretation     Noblesville   
  • Accreditation     Indianapolis


  • Conservation     Indianapolis    
  • Museum "Potpourri"    Battle Ground  
  • Membership Development   Richmond 


  • Docent Training    Indianapolis   
  • Collections Management   Fort Wayne   
  • Fund Raising     Indianapolis


  • Exhibits     Vincennes  
  • Conservation     Bloomington  
  • Youth in Museums    Muncie


  • Volunteers     Columbus  
  • Handicapped Access (504 Regs)  Indianapolis  
  • Appraisals     Indianapolis


  • Legislation & Advocacy   South Bend  
  • Matting & Framing    Indianapolis  
  • Exhibits     Fort Wayne


  • Shipping     Vincennes  
  • Serving Your Audience   Kokomo  
  • Collections     Richmond


  • Folk Art and Oral History   Zionsville  
  • Outreach     Muncie  
  • Security, Insurance, Marketing  Lafayette


  • Labels      Bloomington  
  • Museums in the '80s    Fort Wayne  
  • Conservation     Evansville
  • 1984  
  • Architectural Preservation   Columbus  
  • Photography & Silkscreening   South Bend  
  • Decorative Arts    Lafayette


  • Traveling Exhibitions    Anderson  
  • Computers     Indianapolis  
  • Maintenance     New Harmony


  • Human Resources    Richmond  
  • Fund Raising     Indianapolis  
  • Collections Management   Shelbyville


  • Exhibits     Bloomington  
  • Marketing      Indianapolis  
  • Working with Your Community  Geneva


  • Legal Problems of Administration  Terre Haute  
  • Board Development & Ethics   Indianapolis  
  • Education vs. Entertainment   Madison


  • Collection Management   Michigan City  
  • Education in Museum Settings  Conner Prairie  
  • Non-traditional Museums   Muncie


  • Fund Raising     West Lafayette  
  • Repatriation     Indianapolis  
  • Risk Management    Richmond


  • Conservation     Vincennes  
  • Strategic Planning    Indianapolis  
  • Multi-cultural Diversity   Fort Wayne


  • Registration     South Bend


The Association has been fortunate to have on-going support since 1976 from the Indiana Arts Commission through its granting programs.

As with other organizations during the past 20 years, inflation has led to increasingly larger membership dues and workshop fees; but AIM's volunteer Board of Trustees has managed its limited resources well and much has been accomplished.  In its 20-year history, only seven years have shown operating deficits; and none of those was significant.

In an effort to maintain accurate and consistent financial and legal reporting, Richard France (Indianapolis Zoo) was asked to be the Association's Resident Agent.  He had been the Association's Treasurer from 1981 to 1985 and has served as Resident Agent since 1985.

Dues for the fledgling organization began at $2 in 1972 and increased to $15 for individuals and from $20 to $100 for museums in 1988 when dues were restructured for the fourth time.

Workshop fees began at $3 for members in 1972 ($5 for nonªmembers and this automatically gave them a membership) and have varied greatly depending upon the cost of the workshop and the additional support from grant monies available.

The 1972-78 statewide computerized inventory of objects was the costliest project ($202,000), and the 1990-91 assessment of the status and needs of Indiana's museum community required cash outlay of $97,000.  This project, as the earlier inventory, was funded primarily from government and private foundation grants.

In 1991, challenged by an anonymous donor, AIM launched an Endowment Fund Drive and exceeded its $1,000 goal.  By early 1992, the Endowment Fund balance was more than $3,300.

Through the Years

A review of AIM's minutes and the ”Bulletin reveals a strong, viable organization which has wrestled with important topics in the museum field.  It is significant that in its 20 years, AIM has managed so well with an all-volunteer organization.  Some of the highlights through the years include the following:

1972:  AIM was founded, and the statewide inventory of museum objects was begun.  Bob Starrett was project director.  Mildred Compton (Children's Museum of Indianapolis) was President.

1973:  William Story (Ball State Art Gallery) was appointed as Program Chair to assure the effectiveness of statewide and regional workshops.  John Harris (Tippecanoe County Historical Association) became President. 

1974:  AIM's operating income was $131, and its expenses $159.  The inventory project cost $3,743.  Glenn Anderson (Anderson Fine Arts Center) was President.

1975:  AIM applied for and received 501c3 status from the IRS and discussed long-range planning.  By-laws were revised.  There were 90 paid members, and the service of selling leaflets and publications at its workshop was begun.  Linda "Nikki" (Anderson) Black (Children's Museum of Indianapolis) became President, and subsequently served longer than anyone else in that office (1975ª80).

1976:  Computerization of the inventory project was delayed due to lack of adequate funding.  Completion of the inventory phase of the project was determined to be the top priority.  There were 113 paid members, and the first annual operating funds from the Indiana Arts Commission were acquired.

1977:  Bob Starrett (Inventory Project Director) and Gerald Carrier (AIM Treasurer) were given awards for their dedicated service to AIM.  Dicussion on the computerization of the inventories began.

1978:  As a recognized voice for the state's museums, AIM testified before the Indiana Public Service Commission during the energy crisis and successfully gained exemption from mandatory thermostat controls for museums thereby safeguarding their collections.  The first ”Directory of Indiana Museums was published and a Legislative Study Committee appointed.

1979:  Interest in establishing a closer relationship between AIM and Indiana registrars was advocated.  The new "504 Regulations" were discussed at the summer workshop in Indianapolis.  More than half of the inventory print-outs were completed.  The project was halted due to lack of funding.  Discussion of obtaining a statewide museum coordinator began.  One hundred and eight museums were represented in AIM's membership.

1980:  In addition to AIM's three regional workshops, two exhibits workshops led by Arminta Neal were co-sponsored with the  Indiana Historical Society.  The Legislative Study Committee completed a survey of legislation pertaining to museums and a survey of how many museums take advantage of that legislation. There were 132 paid members; a new membership brochure was designed.  The first ”Museogram was published.  Nikki Black was honored for outstanding service to AIM; and Dottie Sallee (President Benjamin Harrison Home) became AIM's fifth President.

1981:  Discussions revolved around the Midwest Museums Conference and its problems as well as how AIM should relate with that organization.  Federal funding for MAP and through IMS were promoted.  Discussion of the need for long range planning and fund raising began. 

1982:  A long range planning committee was appointed to wrestle with the issues of AIM's identity and the need for a part-time director.  The state's curators advocate a stronger relationship with AIM, and there was discussion about whether the ”Bulletin was meeting AIM's constituency's needs.  John Harris, Peggy Sallee, and Carol Waddell were honored for exemplary service to AIM.  Mrs. Compton was recognized for her service to AIM at her retirement as Director of the Children's Museum.  Rich Kastl (Howard County Historical Museum) was elected President.

1983:  Peggy Smith (Children's Museum of Indianapolis) became chair of the Committee on Unclaimed and Unidentified Objects.  Future use of the inventory project was discussed and how to fund possible uses.  Job descriptions for all Board positions were completed.

1984:  The number of members declined; and creation of a new membership brochure was advocated as a step to solve that problem.  Wordprocessing was first used to prepare the ”Bulletin for publication.  Jane Wheeler (Conner Prairie Pioneer Settle- ment) became President.

1985:  A Long Range Planning Committee was appointed and established five goals to accomplish.  John Harris was awarded a scholarship by AIM to attend the ALI-ABA conference, in return for which he was to write an article for ”Museogram about what he learned.  A new logo was designed and incorporated in a new membership brochure and stationery.  Inventory project data on computer tapes housed at the University of Arizona were inadvertently destroyed.  "Lucky" Ward was appointed "temporary" editor of the ”Bulletin (her tenure ended four years later).  Rick France was appointed Resident Agent.

1986:  AIM began negotations with the Indiana State Library for storage of inventory project records.  John Harris and Carol Waddell prepared guidelines for planning and implementing AIM workshops; the guidelines were subsequently approved for utilization by workshop chairmen.

1987:  A By-laws Revision Committee was appointed.  Revisions, adopted in July, added additional Board positions.  There were 220 paid members.  The idea of cooperative programming with the Indiana Historical Society was pursued.

1988:  Indiana's museum educators pursued more involvement with AIM.  The number of memberships declined dramatically.  Discussion began with the Indiana Humanities Council to determine areas of collaboration and program development.  A scholarship fund in memory of Peggy Gilfoy (long-time AIM member) was advocated.  The AIM Board nominated Carol Waddell for an AASLH Certificate of Commendation.  Michael Hawfield (Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society) was elected President.

1989:  AIM assisted in the passage of Indiana Code 32-9-10 which prescribes museums' rights and responsibilities regarding loaned and abandoned property through its committee on unclaimed property (Vanessa Burkhart had succeeded Peggy Smith as chair).  A proposal to IMS was prepared for an assessment of the status and needs of the state's museums.  A new dues structure was passed and included a sliding scale for institutions.  The membership renewal plan was changed from a fiscal year beginning in July to one year from month of payment.  Additional funding options for AIM were discussed; and a new logo was designed and implemented. 

1990:  A new membership brochure was designed and utilized.  Institutional membership increased dramatically when the ”Directory included AIM membership designation next to the museum's listing.  The grant was received from the IMS for museums assessment.  Foundation funding to match IMS funds was successfully pursued.  The project began and an Advisory Task Force was appointed.   New By-laws amendments were passed.  Carol Waddell (Indianapolis Zoo) was elected President.

1991:  The Statewide Museums' Assessment Project was completed and the final report published.  A bulk permit for mailing the Bulletin was acquired.  An anonymous donor challenged AIM to raise $1,000 (which would be matched one-for-one) to establish an Endowment Fund; the campaign successfully met the challenge.  A Long Range Planning Committee was appointed, chaired by David Buchanan (Vigo County Historical Society).

1992:  Plans were begun for the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the founding of AIM on July 11.  Desktop publishing was used for the first time for the ”Bulletin. A Long Range Plan was adopted by the AIM Board in June 1992.AIM's 20th year ended with 239 paid members.


A 20-year update will be presented in 2012.

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