Family donates to help exhibit

Foundation’s $250,000 lifts arts initiative

The Indiana foundation that contributed $250,000 in seed money to help launch Exhibit Columbus will be honored today when Mayor Jim Lienhoop presents a proclamation in his office making it Efroymson Family Day in Columbus.

The action salutes the Indianapolis-based Efroymson Family Fund-Central Indiana Community Foundation, which supports causes and initiatives ranging from art and architecture to historic preservation. The Efroymson family has supported a wide range of work for more than a century.

Exhibit Columbus founder Richard McCoy said Exhibit Columbus — a new initiative highlighting the city’s art, architecture and design heritage — could not have developed without the fund’s substantial, early contribution. That’s one reason why the fund recently was named Exhibit Columbus’ title sponsor.

The exhibition portion of Exhibit Columbus unfolds Aug. 26 to Nov. 26 and focuses on 18 temporary structures done by creators ranging from internationally known architects to a team of high school students.

Jeremy Efroymson, the fund’s vice president, is an advisory board member of Exhibit Columbus, which officially launched in May 2016 and mixes symposiums with public exhibitions. The fund donated its sizable, matching challenge grant to the local event in the fall of 2014 when McCoy, a long-term acquaintance, and others still were shaping the concept of Exhibit Columbus.

“What Jeremy did for us — to bet on us so early — is indicative of what he does,” McCoy said. “There are so many stories around the state about Jeremy being the guy who will take a risk and bet on an idea that maybe is not yet fully realized. But he sees the potential. And he’s always been so visionary in that way.”

Exhibit Columbus is a project of Landmark Columbus, which was created in 2015 to care for and celebrate the city’s architectural landmarks. Landmark Columbus is a program of the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.

McCoy said he and others were able to leverage the Efroymsons’ support to attract other funding for Exhibit Columbus.

“This provides an official thanks for their contribution to Exhibit Columbus and their interest in our community,” Lienhoop said. “We’re really pleased that they have shown such an interest.”

Efroymson on Tuesday called Columbus “one of the most beautiful cities in the country.”

He also paid homage to J. Irwin Miller, who was responsible for launching Columbus’ foray into the refined architecture world when he selected Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen to design First Christian Church, completed in 1942. Efroymson included J. Irwin Miller’s wife, Xenia Miller, also a longtime national supporter of art and architecture, in his thought.

“I always have thought that the Millers were very visionary in what they did,” Efroymson said. “We’re starting to realize even more today that designing cookie-cutter, rectangular buildings with fluorescent light can affect everything from people’s productivity to their happiness.”

He added that that’s one reason why his fund encourages creativity in so many ventures such as Exhibit Columbus.

Efroymson, a seasoned arts leader, collector, and philanthropist, was a guest at a local public meeting a year ago contrasting Exhibit Columbus with other arts events such as ArtPrize, billed as the biggest art event in the world, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has been a past participant at ArtPrize.

He said after that meeting that Exhibit Columbus has tremendous drawing potential. And he repeated that on Tuesday, saying McCoy’s hope for 10,000 people to see the temporary installations is realistic.

Columbus has been ranked sixth nationally by the American Institute of Architects for architectural innovation and design. The city boasts more than 80 buildings, landscapes, and pieces of public art by internationally noted architects and artists, according to Exhibit Columbus organizers.

About the Efroymson Family Fund

The Efroymson Family Fund-Central Indiana Community Foundation continues a long history of charitable commitment by the Efroymson family in central Indiana and elsewhere.

Established in 1998 by Dan and Lori Efroymson, the Efroymson Family Fund supports a diverse range of issues including arts and culture, historic preservation, the environment and helping those in need. To date, the Efroymson Family Fund has awarded more than $100 million in grants in central Indiana and beyond.

The Efroymson family fund advisors consist of Lori Efroymson-Aguilera, chair; and Jeremy Efroymson and Elissa Hamid Efroymson, vice presidents.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.