• The first Brown County Art Gallery · circa 1940

    The first Brown County Art Gallery · circa 1940

  • Brown County Art Gallery · circa 1960

    Brown County Art Gallery · circa 1960

  • New Gallery Entrance · 2016

    New Gallery Entrance · 2016

History of the Brown County Art Gallery

The Brown County Art Gallery was established in 1926 by the early members of an important regional art colony who began exploring rural southern Indiana in the 1890s. These early artists had been trained in the best art schools of Europe and America and were attracted to the rolling hills of Brown County because it offered both dramatic landscapes and interesting people to serve as subjects for their work.

Visitors to the Brown County Art Gallery will still find the work of today's top Indiana artists for sale and can learn the history of those who came before through special exhibits, video presentations, books, and historic programs. For those who collect early Indiana art, expertise is available. Collectors will also find a quality selection of consignment art for sale, painted by the early artists.

It is all part of an ongoing history that began more than eight decades ago when Hoosier Group Master, Theodore Clement Steele, bought property in Brown County in 1907. He encouraged many other prominent artists to visit Brown County including Adolph Shulz and his wife, Ada Walter Shulz. They fell in love with the rugged land, declaring it their "perfect painting ground" and when railroad service and lodging came to the tiny county seat of Nashville, the Shulzes and others opened studios in Brown County, nicknaming it "Peaceful Valley."

In 1926, they formed the Brown County Art Gallery Artists Association and set up a Gallery in a former grocery store donated by a patron. For over eight decades, the Gallery has managed to survive wars, depressions, recessions, fire and relocation, making it one of the oldest galleries in the United States.
The Gallery also put together an important Permanent Collection of early Indiana art thanks to donations from artists and collectors alike, making the need for protecting these valuable paintings along with the property, a priority, thus the Brown County Art Gallery Foundation was formed.

Under its auspices, the Gallery provides first class exhibition space, vault storage and art conservation as well as historic programs and exhibits. The legacy of the early artists continues today with the ongoing Gallery Artists Association. In addition, Indiana Heritage Arts, a non-profit organization, stages an annual art exhibition and sale for artists with a tie to Indiana. Since its inception in 1978, the IHA Show has become one of the biggest art competitions in the Midwest, taking place each June. IHA also has Gallery space on a yearly basis to exhibit and sell the work of their artists.

Future artists also are featured in the annual Mabel B. Annis Student Art Competition. Jr. High and Senior High art students from seven surrounding counties have a chance to win prize money and exhibit and sell their work in the Gallery. The Annis exhibit is held each spring.

Other special events include the Annual Victorian Tea. The Gallery owns a large collection of antique teacups and teapots used in this popular event.
In 2015, the Gallery built an 8600 square foot addition, providing more exhibit space and a 1600 square foot Art Education Studio. This state-of-the-art space is designed for workshops, lectures and as a place for artists to gather and share with each other and the public.

To learn more about what it was like to be an artist in Brown County in the early 1900s, watch the video “Frank Hohenberger and the Brown County Artists.”

October 24th, 2015 dedication for the new expansion of the Brown County Art Gallery featuring the Bob and Barbara Stevens Art Education studio addition...