Trip Idea: Arts & Culture
Being the home of Indiana University has given Bloomington a diverse and rich culture which is represented by the variety and quality of artists, venues and events. There really is no other place in the Midwest quite like Bloomington when it comes to seeing, hearing or experiencing the arts. This very small sampling will give you an idea of what's available.
Though there are official Walk dates (the first Friday of every other month), the Gallery Walk is something you can experience any day of the year. Ten of our downtown galleries participate in the Walk, which helps you map out some of the best galleries in Bloomington. If you're lucky enough to visit on an official Walk date, you'll find a welcome reception and new exhibit at each gallery.
College of Arts
Indiana University has an esteemed arts reputation, with thousands of musical, theatrical and visual art events. The I.M. Pei designed IU Art Museum is a masterpiece on its own, but the huge collections of arts, ranging from ancient to modern, is stunning. The Grunwald Gallery next door is smaller but just as impressive, featuring student, faculty and national artists. Every visitor to Bloomington should experience a performance at the Jacobs School of Music, one of the most highly regarded music schools in the country. They may be students, but they'll teach you a thing or two!
Catch a show from one of several performance companies in town. The Bloomington Playwrights Project specializes in never-before-produced plays so there's always something new! Cardinal Stage Company and IU Theatre & Drama often perform everything from classics to kid-friendly productions. The Buskirk-Chumley Theater and John Waldron Arts Center are home to many performances from additional local groups. Also check the IU Auditorium Schedule for upcoming Broadway show!
Not all great music takes place on campus, though. Throughout Bloomington you can hear outstanding live music any night of the week. From touring national artists at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater to up-and-coming artists at the downtown clubs, and plenty of local music at unique venues like public parks and local restaurants, there is a tremendous variety of sounds in B-town.
Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center
A one-of-a-kind cultural center located in the heart of the Midwest, this spiritual place offers classes, research materials, overnight accommodations and several amazing buildings and structures, some of which have been blessed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. You might even catch some of the monks playing basketball in their robes- a truly Bloomington scene!
Good food is matched with beautiful artwork at two of Bloomington's more popular restaurants- Uptown Café and Lennie's. Uptown (as local's call it) has a delicious Cajun influenced menu and they feature limestone sculptures and original paintings on the walls. Lennie's also has local art on the walls, and their casual-gourmet menu goes very well with their BBC beer offerings, which are brewed at the on-site brewery.
Stay close to all the arts action at one of two downtown hotels. The Courtyard by Marriott and Hilton Garden Inn keep you in the heart of the city, within walking distance to shops, restaurants, galleries and the IU Campus.
To make your trip planning even easier, here's your go-to checklist for everything mentioned in the trip idea above.