Harrison Eiteljorg

Harrison Eiteljorg
(10/1/1903 – 4/29/1997)

Photo Credit: WISH-TV

Harrison Eiteljorg’s family had settled in Indianapolis from Germany so that his father could pursue his dental practice. Harrison started law school at Indiana University but decided after a year that the law was not for him, and he returned to Indianapolis to work in advertising and as a reporter for a newspaper. Eiteljorg married Edith Morgan in 1933 and joined her father’s coal business, Morgan Mines. Under his leadership it became Morgan Coal in 1947, with strip mining interests in Indiana, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

It was when Eiteljorg began traveling to Colorado looking for coal deposits to lease that he found his passion – the American West. He fell in love with its natural landscapes, its people and its art and architecture. When he and Edith divorced in 1954, he received her interest in the mining business and continued his interest in the West. He got to know all kinds of artists and purchased so much art that he opened galleries in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and Indianapolis.

Eiteljorg became a trustee of the Herron Museum of Art in 1962 and the Board Chairman of the Indianapolis Museum of Art from 1974 to 1984. He was able to exhibit some of his Western Art collection there starting in 1976, but when the White River Park commission was formed in 1979, talks began between Eiteljorg and the commission to create the Eiteljorg Museum of Western Art to house his growing collection. He was active throughout its planning and remained active after it opened in 1989, continuing to serve as its Chairman until his death in 1997.

Eiteljorg’s love of art had started early in his life and was fostered by his mother, who was a talented artist. His interests went beyond Western art and included Native American art in all its forms, the art of the Paris School and an extensive collection of Oceanic and African Art. While the Indianapolis Museum of Art (now known as Newfields) houses much of his African Art Collection, some was also donated to Butler University.

Buried in Section 61, Lot 8; GPS (39.8191346,-86.1769761)