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Artistic Indiana

From art colonies to quilt gardens, Indiana is a land of color.

It’s difficult to travel throughout the Hoosier state without recognizing the impact that art and architecture have had on its communities. In small towns and larger cities alike, travelers will find a culture that values the arts, celebrates design and provides ample opportunities for visitors to get in on the action themselves.

Art and architecture make a great theme for a tour of Indiana, and groups will find colorful attractions and experiences in destinations throughout the state. We’ve put together an arts itinerary that highlights some of the diverse artistic expressions from the hills of southern Indiana to the lakefront territory of the north.

The tour starts in Brown County and visits Columbus and Dearborn County before turning north to Indianapolis. It continues to the Lafayette area and then finishes in the Amish country of northern Indiana. You can make the tour in five days if you want; a full week will allow time for more immersive arts experiences.


[ Destination Brown County ]

Highlight | Art Colony

Painter T.C. Steele was one of the first artists to discover the wooded, rolling hills of Brown County in the early 1900s, and he established a studio there. Word of Steele’s find spread, and soon the town of Nashville and the surrounding area grew into a veritable art colony.

Today, Nashville is a charming, walkable village, with plenty of places for groups to indulge their artistic tastes. There are dozens of studios and galleries throughout the village that showcase the work of painters, sculptors, glassblowers and other artists who have found inspiration in Brown County.

Groups can arrange to have hands-on arts workshops with artists that live in the area. There are also resident artists who do demonstrations and events at the T.C. Steele State Historic Site, which preserves Steele’s home and studio in the woods.

While you’re there: Brown County State Park offers 16,000 acres of wooded wilderness where groups can take guided hikes, set out on horseback trail rides or have a zip-line adventure in the treetops.


[ Destination Columbus ]

Highlight | Architectural Wonders

Though its residents number only 44,000, the town of Columbus boasts a portfolio of high-concept architecture that outshines most destinations 10 times its size. The American Institute of Architects has ranked Columbus sixth in the nation for architectural design and innovation, behind luminaries like Chicago, Boston and Washington.

Columbus has more than 70 buildings and pieces of public art designed by internationally known architects and artists, including I.M. Pei, Eliel Saarinen, Harry Weese and Dale Chihuly. The buildings exemplify the aesthetic of mid-20th century modern architecture.

Groups can get an overview of the city’s great buildings on a two-hour architectural tour offered through the local convention and visitors bureau. That tour also includes a visit to the downtown district, which features Victorian-style building facades.

While you’re there: The Miller House and Garden is often compared to Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater home in Pennsylvania. The Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum features vintage aircraft, uniforms and other aviation artifacts from World War II through the Vietnam War.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.