The IMA's Gardens Grow Up

More than 150,000 new bulbs. Rare flowers. Even a place to get beer. The IMA hopes its new “garden gallery exhibition” takes root with unconventional museumgoers.

According to Indianapolis Museum of Art research, the public only spends about 5 percent of its leisure-time activity going to museums. So what’s the IMA to do? Attract the other 95 percent with flowers. For Spring Blooms: Celebration of Color (opening April 1), the museum planted 150,000 bulbs—roughly five times as many as it typically puts in the ground. Along with a new beer garden and exotic flora from across the globe, it’s a lot to take in. Here, a guide to what you’ll find:

Start Anywhere
Museum visitors can’t miss the exhibit’s new floral borders dotting the grounds. From your first step out of the parking area—at the museum’s main entrance, at the beginning of the garden path, outside the Lilly House—flowers and plants are everywhere.

Follow the Path
Updated for Spring Blooms, the garden path winds through multiple planting areas featuring gladiolas, tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, and violas. A printed map and signs highlight specific plants and explain the color theory and landscape design principles at work.
Find the Meconopsis
(a.k.a. Himalayan Blue Poppy)
Rarely seen in the Midwest due to its finicky, cool climate preference, the Himalayan Blue Poppy is so intense in color it appears fake. The museum purchased established roots from an Alaskan grower, which were planted in the Dickinson Four Season Garden.
Check out the Updated Greenhouse  
Long a favorite IMA stop, the greenhouse no longer sells plants. But in its new incarnation, it does host horticultural workshops and showcase a lot of beautiful flora (including orchids). What’s more, part of it now serves as a beer garden, offering craft brews.
Feast Your Eyes on This
Edible plants—including lettuces, Swiss chard, and sage—are now sprinkled among the museum’s beds. In addition to looking beautiful, some of the produce gets donated to Second Helpings. So your aesthetic gratification isn’t the only good cause the IMA has in mind.