Gold! Riches and Ruin at Indy’s Eiteljorg Museum

<i>Gold! Riches and Ruin</i> at Indy’s Eiteljorg Museum
Photograph by Hadley Fruits; Gold hair comb, cup, ring, and nuggets on loan courtesy of Greg and Petra Martin

If you lead with “stories of greed, innovation, success, and failure in the quest for gold,” it’s safe to say my response is Yes, go on…. And the Eiteljorg Museum—the Indy institution dedicated to the American West and North America’s indigenous populations—does just that in its exhibition opening March 7.

There will be plenty of the shiny stuff on display in its myriad forms (nuggets, bars, jewelry, coins, insert your movie-scene imagery here), but—being a museum and all—they’re taking a deeper, more nuanced approach to gold than just ooh, pretty. Namely, they’re presenting specific stories from the 1840s to 1910s that show how the search for gold fundamentally altered a region, permanently changed demographics, and affected Native American populations. You’ll get a sense of the violence, sacrifice, and manic drive involved in the hunt for gold, as well as the windfall that awaited the successful, propelling the whole enterprise. Non-gold artifacts in the form of mining equipment, clothing, diaries, and more are also part of the show.

Some got rich, some lost everything, and you can check it out for yourself through August 9.

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