For more than 50 years, Eero Saarinen’s lovely little Miller House in Columbus, Indiana, sat closed off to all but a select (and lucky) few. Now, with the death of the last original owner, this low-slung gem by a giant of mid-century modernism is opening to the public.
The Indianapolis Museum of Art acquired the house after Xenia Miller — wife of industrial magnate J. Irwin Miller — died in 2008. The couple had commissioned it in 1953, at the height of Saarinen’s illustrious career. Starting May 10, the doors will be thrown open to visitors. Tickets go on sale today.
The design wasn’t a game-changer like some of Saarinen’s other, more famous work (notably the St. Louis Arch and the TWA terminal). In many ways, the Miller House epitomized the Modern style pioneered by Saarinen’s elder Mies van der Rohe: It had an open floor plan spread beneath a flat roof and skylights, and copious stone and glass walls arranged around cruciform steel columns.
What’s unique is that house has been immaculately preserved, right down to the original landscaping by Dan Kiley and interiors by Alexander Girard. Perusing the pictures here, we’re struck by how improbably fresh everything looks (well, almost everything; some of those textiles look like leftover sets from The Brady Bunch). Ultimately, it’s a testament to Saarinen’s architectural legerdemain that the place still feels totally contemporary. Buy tickets here.
[Images courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art]SL