Miller House Review – Top Pick Attraction in Columbus, Indiana

The design emphasizes long extensions

 

Before you go on a tour of the Miller House led by a docent from the Columbus Indiana Visitors Center you’ll get to see a short film in their theater that provides an excellent frame for the tour to follow. 

 

The tulips in spring must provide a lovely echo of the house interiors

 

Most memorably, William Miller, who is the son of industrialist and philanthropist J. Irwin Miller and his wife Xenia Simons Miller who commissioned the house in 1953, talks of how the Miller House epitomizes the excellence that comes from a close collaboration such as those his parents enjoyed with the talent they brought in to create their home. 

 

One wall of the living room houses books and collections

 

Now a permanent exhibit of modernist architecture by the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Miller House and Garden was designed by Eero Saarinen, with interiors by Alexander Girard, and landscape design by Dan Kiley

 

Looking into the dining area from the main living room from a spot where you can see the great expanse of the house

 

Saarinen’s name sound familiar?  In just a few hours of this article being penned, Saarinen’s famed Gateway Arch in St. Louis will be bathed in gold light to commemorate its 50th Anniversary. 

 

The brightly colored "conversation pit" draws your eye as you enter the house

 

It takes just a few moments of entering the Miller House to begin to get a feel for the genius of Saarinen, Girard and Kiley, especially if you keep front of mind just how spectacularly new this clean modern design was at the time it was built.

 

You are immediately struck by how low the conversation pit is, creating a truly intimate social space

 

In the entrance foyer you see the first of many collections of objects that Girard collected for Mrs. Miller

 

Interiors by Alexander Girard

 

While there are many hundreds of small objects in similar tastefully displayed frames, there is never clutter. 

 

Master bedroom

 

Rather, the house architecture and design combine to give you the feel of big open Western skies and a sense that the barrier between inside and outside is fluid, much as you feel in many parts of Southeast Asia. 

 

Dan Kiley's landscape design featured several corridors and other collections of different tree species

 

This is not just a sense.  If you look closely you will see that the collaboration between landscape architect and architect was so detailed that lines in floor covering align with a door, which in turn aligns with a path, which in turn aligns with a hedge and in exquisite detail, perhaps for most of us subliminally, tell you all is of a piece. 

 

A view from the kitchen

 

Glass walls, flat roof, décor in strong colors and bold patterns decorating a canvas of clean white - this was all new when Miller House was built.  If you like to thumb through magazines like Dwell or Metropolis you MUST visit Miller House to see where so much of what you like began. 

 

We learned that the active son of the family would mischievously skip the steps into the pit and just jump on the pillows

 

Tours are offered every day except Monday, and advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended.  For more information or to buy tickets visit imamuseum.org/millerhouse or call Columbus Indiana Visitors Center at 800 468 6564.

 

From a distance you can't tell as easily how much you will experience the feeling of being in a (literally) glass house

 

Photos courtesy of Indianapolis Museum of Art

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