The Friends of T.C. Steele

Over the years, the Friends of T.C. Steele have helped with site operations by guiding tours, performing building maintenance, garden and grounds maintenance, collections care, and special events.  In its short lifetime, the Friends group has tackled the following projects, among many others:  establishing an endowment fund, contracting for reproduction draperies in the historic home, restoring Mrs. Steele's gardens, reconstructing the lily ponds, rewiring the Dewar Log Cabin to accommodate interpretive exhibits, co-sponsoring an exhibit of paintings by Brown County artist Ada Walter Shulz at the Indiana State Museum, purchasing computer equipment for the historic site, initiating an Adopt-a-Painting program, launching the Artist-in-Residence program, and sponsoring a full calendar of special events.  The newest and biggest project yet, a Visitor Center that will be constructed by the State of Indiana, aided and furnished by the Friends of T.C. Steele, will soon be underway.  This project means a huge fundraising undertaking and a louder call for volunteers to help make the visitor center a welcoming place.

The Friends of T.C. Steele SHS support group officially incorporated in 1991, although the historic site had volunteers and "friends" on an informal basis for many years before that.  Then- assistant curator Rachel Perry was instrumental in organizing and gaining tax-exempt status for the fledgling group, drawing in part from the support of a local group interested in the natural and cultural resources of the area, the Friends of Brown County.  In 1993, the Friends of T.C. Steele SHS split from ISMS. In 1996, the Friends of Brown County disbanded as a separate entity and combined with the Friends of T.C. Steele. 

Friends' members work with their community organizations to link site events with community-wide activities such as the Brown County Art Renaissance, of which the site's Great Outdoor Art Contest is an integral part, and the spring Wildflower Foray, which is organized with the help of the Brown County Garden Club, Brown County Lions Club, Brown County State Park, Yellowwood State Forest, and Monroe Reservoir along with representatives of other DNR divisions, the Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society, Hoosier National Forest and others.

The hard work of the Friends of T.C. Steele is now most visible through the Friends-operated museum shop and the full calendar of events that the site now keeps.  This group is also a part of many behind-the-scenes operations, and their goal is to help the site’s small state-funded staff be even more effective in their work.