Day Away Tour: A Modernist's Dream: Columbus, Indiana

Friday, May 17th 8:00am - Sunday, May 19th 5:30pm
Cranbrook House
380 Lone Pine road
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304


Guided Bus and Walking Tour
Bus departs Cranbrook Friday at 8:00am and returns on Sunday around 5:30pm

$940/person (includes a $250/person tax-deductible donation to Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research)
Fee includes bus transportation, all admission and tour fees, museum receptions, Friday lunch and dinner, Saturday lunch and dinner, and Sunday lunch. Hotel accommodations and breakfasts are extra.

Indiana Medical History Museum

Hotel accommodations at the Conrad Indianapolis—at a negotiated Cranbrook rate of $239/night (Deluxe Room, king bed, single or double occupancy) plus taxes—must be booked and paid separately by the participants. The cost of hotel is not included in the $940 participation fee.

Hosted by
Gregory Wittkopp, Director, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research
Kevin Adkisson, Collections Fellow, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

Guest Experts
Sarah Halter, Director, Indiana Medical History Museum, Indianapolis
Professor Robert V. Roethemeyer, Director, Kroemer Library, Concordia Theological Seminary
Shelley Selim, Associate Curator of Design and Decorative Arts and Miller House Curator, Indianapolis Museum of Art
Frank Souder, Owner and Principal, Frank Souder Designs, and Wermuth House Resident
Ben Wever, Site Manager, Miller House and Garden, Indianapolis Museum of Art

Join the Center on our long-anticipated trip to Columbus, Indiana—a city described by critics as “a veritable museum of modern architecture,” “a small-town architectural mecca,” and “the Athens of the prairie.” For anyone that loves Cranbrook’s architecture, Columbus is simply a city that you must visit—a modernist’s dream!

In the 1940s, Cummins Engine Company executive J. Irwin Miller set out to draw world-class workers to his company’s small hometown by elevating the town’s attitude via design. He subsidized the architectural fees of buildings for the public good, as long as renowned architects designed them. The result is a town of 45,000 people filled with more than seventy buildings created by world-famous architects, including Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen, Alexander Girard, Harry Weese, Gunnar Birkerts, César Pelli, and many other Cranbrook associates. The highlight of our Saturday in Columbus will be a private, curator-led tour of Miller House and Garden, the 1957 house that Eero Saarinen—working with interior designer Alexander Girard and landscape designer Dan Kiley—designed for J. Irwin Miller and his family. Now owned and operated by the Indianapolis Museum of Art, with former Cranbrook Art Museum Collections Fellow and Assistant Curator Shelley Selim serving as its curator, the house is arguably the most significant modernist house in America.

Miller House and Garden Conversation Pit. Credit Indianapolis Museum of Art.

On our way to Indianapolis on Friday (where we will spend Friday and Saturday nights), we will stop in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to explore Concordia Theological Seminary, a campus comprised of approximately forty buildings designed by Eero Saarinen in the mid-1950s, including the architect’s masterful A-frame Kramer Chapel. Sited on the campus’s highest point and overlooking a man-made lake, the chapel became the prototype for modernist churches across the United States.

On our first evening in Indianapolis, we will meet Shelley Selim for a reception at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (part of the newly rebranded Newfields campus) and a tour of Selim’s 2018 installation of the museum’s spectacular Design Gallery. With more than 11,000 square feet of exhibition space and an adjacent 800-square-foot Design Lab, the Design Gallery is the largest collection gallery devoted to modern and contemporary design of any museum in the country.  

Expecting the unexpected, our second evening in Indianapolis will start with a reception and tour of one of Center Director Gregory Wittkopp’s favorite museums, the Indiana Medical History Museum. Located on the grounds of the former Central State Hospital in the Old Pathology Building (1896), the museum not only preserves—virtually intact—what was the nation’s leading nineteenth-century Pathological Department, but also explores the history of science and medicine, mental health care, and forensic science.

Kramer Chapel in the Spring

On our return trip on Sunday, we will visit the 1942 home that Eliel and Eero Saarinen (by then partners) designed for Albert and Muriel Wermuth—Wermuth’s firm was the contractor that built Cranbrook and First Christian Church in Columbus. Now leased by Frank Souder, who uses the house as the offices of his own design firm, the home—which sits on a steep ridge leading to a small brook—both reflects Eliel’s harmonious designs for Saarinen House and the Koebel House in Grosse Pointe Farms, while also anticipating the more sculptural modernism of Eero’s mature work.

The home base for our three-day trip will be the luxurious Conrad Indianapolis hotel. As memorable food and drink are integral to all Center experiences, it goes without saying that the trip will include two dinners in Indianapolis sure to please the foodies in the group. Our Saturday night dinner is tentatively scheduled for Bluebeard, which is located in an historic Italian neighborhood—Holy Rosary—on the edge of Downtown Indianapolis. In its first year, the restaurant became a James Beard Award semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant in America. Since then, Chef Abbi Merriss has been a James Beard Foundation-nominated chef for the past three consecutive years (2016, 2017, and 2018), recognized for her farm-fresh menu that changes daily. 

To be placed on the tour wait-list, please contact Alissa Seelmann-Rutkofske, Center Administrative Assistant, at 248.645.3307. For additional information on the tour content or itinerary, please contact Greg Wittkopp, Center Director, at 248.645.3315. Participants will be sent hotel registration information upon receipt of the $940 fee. 


Friday, May 17, 2019

Parking and Registration
Cranbrook House Parking Lot

Bus Departs Cranbrook
Note: The charter bus will be equipped with a restroom and the Center will provide travel snacks and bottled water.
In addition, we will break up the trip with periodic stops at highway rest areas.

11:30am – 1:00pm
Lunch in Fort Wayne

1:00pm – 2:00pm
Tour Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (Eero Saarinen, 1953 – 1958)
Guest Expert: Professor Robert V. Roethemeyer, Director, Kroemer Library, Concordia

Check-in at the Conrad Indianapolis Hotel

Bus Departs the Hotel

5:45pm – 7:30pm
Private Reception followed by Museum Highlights and Design Gallery Tours, Indianapolis Museum of Art
Guest Expert: Shelley Selim, Associate Curator of Design and Decorative Arts

Dinner in Indianapolis (Restaurant to be determined)

Saturday, May 18, 2019
Breakfast (on your own)

Bus Departs the Conrad Indianapolis Hotel

9:30am – 10:00am
Columbus Orientation at the Columbus Area Visitors Center

10:00am – 12:00pm
Private Tour of the Miller House and Garden
(Eero Saarinen, Alexander Girard, and Dan Kiley, 1957)
Guest Experts:
Shelley Selim, Associate Curator of Design and Decorative Arts and Miller House Curator, Indianapolis Museum of Art
Ben Wever, Site Manager, Miller House and Garden, Indianapolis Museum of Art

12:00pm – 1:30pm
Private Lunch in Downtown Columbus

1:30pm – 4:00pm
Bus Tour of Columbus
Stops with interior tours will include:
First Christian Church, 1942
(Eliel Saarinen with Collaborating Designers Loja Saarinen, Eero Saarinen, and Charles Eames)
North Christian Church, 1964
(Eero Saarinen Associates with Collaborating Designers Alexander Girard and Landscape Architect Dan Kiley)
First Baptist Church, 1965
(Harry Weese with Landscape Architect Dan Kiley)
Guest Expert: Kevin Adkisson, Collections Fellow, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

4:00pm – 5:00pm
Travel from Columbus to the Conrad Indianapolis Hotel

Bus Departs the Hotel

6:00pm – 7:30pm
Private Reception and Tour of the Indiana Medical History Museum
Guest Expert: Sarah Halter, Director

Dinner in Indianapolis (tentatively scheduled for Bluebeard Restaurant)

Sunday, May 19, 2019
Breakfast (on your own)

Bus Departs the Conrad Indianapolis Hotel

11:30am – 12:30pm
Tour the A. C. Wermuth House in Fort Wayne (Eliel Saarinen and Eero Saarinen, 1942)
Guest Expert: Frank Souder, Owner and Principal, Frank Souder Designs

12:30pm – 2:00pm
Lunch in Fort Wayne

Bus Arrives at Cranbrook House


  • The $940/person fee includes a required $250/person donation to the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research. 
  • Tour reservation guaranteed with full $940 payment (which does not include the hotel or breakfasts on Saturday and Sunday mornings). 
  • The $250 donation is non-refundable; the remaining $690 tour fee is refundable only if a patron can be found to take the place of the original tour patron.  
  • Attendees must reserve and pay separately for their room at the Conrad Indianapolis. 
  • The hotel room is subject to the Conrad Indianapolis’s policies and regulations, including all applicable cancellation fees and penalties. 
  • The Cranbrook Center does not guarantee the availability of rooms at the Conrad Indianapolis. 
  • Attendees may stay at another hotel of their choice. However, the bus pick-up and drop-off point will be at the Conrad Indianapolis. 
  • The Cranbrook Center will do its best to convey all dietary restrictions to the restaurants. 
  • The exact tour schedule, including the restaurants, is subject to change and refinement. 

Eero Saarinen, architect, with Dan Kiley, landscape architect, J. Irwin & Xenia Miller House . Copyright the Indianapolis Museum of Art; Courtesy the Columbus Indiana Visitors Center.

Indiana Medical History Museum, Indianapolis.  Photography Courtesy Indiana Medical History Museum.

Eero Saarinen, architect, Alexander Girard, interior designer, J. Irwin & Xenia Miller House . Copyright the Indianapolis Museum of Art; Courtesy the Columbus Indiana Visitors Center.

Kramer Chapel in the Spring, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Eero Saarinen, Architect. Photography Courtesy Kroemer Library, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

A. C. Wermuth House, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Eliel Saarinen and Eero Saarinen, Architects.  Photography Courtesy Frank Souder Designs, Fort Wayne, Indiana.