In November 2010, USA Today named the Swope one of ten great places to see art in smaller cities. The collection originally focused on American regionalism with funding from the estate of jeweler Michael Sheldon Swope. The museum has expanded to include art from the second half of the 20th century and early 21st century, including works by Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, Robert Motherwell, Robert Indiana and Eva Hesse. One gallery is devoted to Indiana artists. Admission to the museum is free.


The concept of the Swope Art Museum first began at the turn of the 20th century when Sheldon Swope, a wealthy Indiana jeweler, wrote in his will that he wanted most of his estate to go into the founding of an art gallery that would be open to the public, free of charge.  After Swope's death in 1929, the estate got to work on the art gallery, spending the next ten years collecting works of art for the museum.  The museum's board of managers began planning the museum's layout in 1939 by gutting Swope Block, a forty-year old Italian Renaissance building owned by Swope, and renovated it into modern, Art Deco designed building.  The museum finally opened its doors in 1942 as the Sheldon Swope Art Gallery, exhibiting many works of art from the best artists in the Midwest and the rest of the country.     

Today, the museum has a collection of nearly 3,000 works of American art including 19th and 20th century paintings, sculptures, and works on paper. Paintings from the “American Regionalist” group include works by Thomas Hart Benton, Charles Burchfield, Edward Hopper, Reginald Marsh and Grant Wood. Art from the latter half of the 20th century features such notable painters and sculptors as Alexander Calder, Moses and Raphael Soyer, Robert Motherwell, Eva Hess, Robert Rauschenberg, and Leonard Baskin, as well as screenprints from Robert Indiana (Decade Portfolio) and Andy Warhol (Marilyn). In addition, outstanding art by an often under-represented group, Women Artists, is a vital part of the collection.  Along with having many works of art on display, the museum also offers educational progorams, such as art classes and studios for local artists.

"Our History." Swope Art Museum. Accessed on August 3, 2016. https://www.swope.org/about/history/