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  • Writer's pictureJoey Amato

Athenaeum Foundation announces lineup for signature events while celebrating 125 years



The Athenaeum, known as a prominent German-American landmark in downtown Indianapolis, is celebrating 125 years since the building originally opened in June of 1898. To kickstart the celebrations for the historic milestone, the Athenaeum announced dates for its signature events taking place throughout the year.


“Over the last 125 years, the Athenaeum Foundation, and the Athenaeum Turners who founded the organization, have stayed true to our mission of serving a sound mind and a sound body not only through wellness but also through arts and culture,” said Athenaeum Foundation president Craig Mince. “Our public programming continues to grow as we seek to reach new audiences through creative collaborations. Last year alone, we saw a 16% increase in building activation and attendance. Whether you have visited the Athenaeum or not, we invite everyone to attend an event, enjoy a cup of coffee at Coat Check or have dinner in the Rathskeller so you can be part of the 125th-year history.”


Each year, the Athenaeum hosts a diverse lineup of entertainment options designed for the whole family to enjoy. The official 2023 signature events schedule includes:


St. Benno Fest is one of the longest-running German heritage events in Indianapolis and dates to at least 1913. As the patron saint of Munich, St. Benno made a lasting impact on the Catholic faith, and his legacy continues to thrive through fascinating folklore and long-standing traditions. This event will take place in the Rathskeller Kellersaal Ballroom on Saturday, April 15.


Das GartenGrillFest summer celebration will take place on Sunday, June 11. This backyard German barbecue will take place in the Rathskeller Biergarten and will serve as the keystone event for the 125th-anniversary celebration.


An all-time Athenaeum favorite, GermanFest, will be back on Saturday, October 7. Attendees can celebrate the impact German culture has had on Indianapolis with various German music, biers, foods and vendors. GermanFest will also feature the world famous wiener dog races, which is an all-time attendee favorite.


Finally, a newly added signature event in 2022, the Athenaeum Christkindlmarkt will return for its second year from November 24 – December 17.


As the Athenaeum celebrates this historic anniversary, Mince wants to pay homage not only to the building itself but also to the impact the Athenaeum has had on the art and culture community in Central Indiana.


Over the past 125 years, the following organizations have called The Athenaeum home:

  • Indiana Repertory Theatre (1972-1980)

  • The Cabaret | Formerly: American Cabaret Theater (1989-2009)

  • Indy Fringe Festival (2005)

  • Indianapolis Downtown Artists and Dealers Association First Friday Tours (2004-2017)

  • React | Formerly: Young Actors Theatre: (1976-present)

  • Indiana Performing Arts Theatre Company (2005-present)

  • Kids Dance Outreach (2012-present)

Leadership from the Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) commented on how the Athenaeum plays an integral role in the history and legacy of various arts and cultural community organizations in Indianapolis. “The IRT's inaugural years, from 1972 – 1980, were spent at the Athenaeum,” said IRT’s Margot Lacy Eccles artistic director, Janet Allen. “The Athenaeum provided our founders with significant support, to not only launch a new creative arts endeavor in Indianapolis but also to support the vision and needed audience growth for our organization.”


“The Athenaeum is a flagship arts and cultural institute in the Mass Ave. district,” said, The Cabaret’s artistic director and CEO, Shannon Forsell. “The American Cabaret Theatre was one of many art organizations in Indianapolis that benefitted from the Athenaeum and their deep support for all arts organizations.”


"We are grateful for its role as a community hub for arts, culture, and connection for the past 125 years, and we're excited for the important role it will continue to play in our city's fast-growing creative economy,” Indy Arts Council president and CEO, Julie Goodman.


Additional anniversary activation will be announced throughout the year. For more details on events, tickets and program offerings, please visit athenaeumindy.org/events/.

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