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Announced by IU President McRobbie in spring of 2020, the new Collections Teaching, Research & Exhibition Center (CTREC) will engage students, faculty, and public audiences with IU’s world-class collections that span disciplines, time periods, and geography. These include many significant art, cultural, and historical collections across all of IU’s nine campuses. It will be housed in the McCalla School and serve as an accessible hub to faculty, students, visiting researchers, and the public, allowing collections to be used across disciplinary boundaries, so that objects can be connected in new and imaginative ways, including via physical exhibits, digital content, classroom instruction, hands-on learning lab interactions, and public performances in the building’s new multipurpose room.


In 2018, under the leadership of President Michael A. McRobbie, IU launched University Collections, part of a sustained effort to ensure that all of IU’s collections, regardless of size, location, or resource level, are properly preserved, housed, and made accessible to all members of the IU community, the general public, and scholars everywhere.

Where IU once was dominated by siloed collections, with many left without significant resources to support proper stewardship, University Collections seeks to bring a newfound unity. This fresh vision provides all collections, no matter their size or geographic location, with access to advocates who work to find ways to share resources, provide training opportunities, and assist in creating necessary plans and policies to ensure the safety and longevity of all collections. This new vision has already unearthed many previously unacknowledged collections across the state, aided collections during emergencies and moves, and enhanced exposure for IU’s holdings.

The once disparate and isolated collections are becoming one cohesive, cooperative entity that holistically considers all aspects of collections preservation, stewardship, and public accessibility. Such an approach both reinforces the value of IU’s most prestigious collections and elevates those little-known, but still very important, collections across the state. The new Collections Teaching, Research & Exhibition Center (CTREC) at the McCalla School will be the centerpiece for these efforts, where collections from Bloomington and other IU campuses can be brought into conversation with one another, including collections in the visual arts, humanities, media, and beyond.

History of McCalla Building

The McCalla School is named for Margaret Hemphill McCalla (1836-1912), a pioneering teacher in Bloomington and Evansville, Indiana. McCalla spent decades serving Indiana communities both in the classroom and as an administrator. In 1873, McCalla was instrumental in organizing a preparatory school, which eventually became Bloomington’s first high school, located in the Central School building, where she taught mathematics. In 1874, McCalla became Indiana’s first female school superintendent as the head of the Bloomington public schools. Former student William Lowe Bryan became a teacher for the Bloomington schools before heading to IU. Of his former superintendent, Bryan effused that McCalla was “one of the most noble personalities” that he had ever had the pleasure of knowing.

McCalla was so beloved that when she announced her resignation as superintendent in 1889, she received a letter saying that the Board of Trustees for the city’s schools had met to discuss her resignation, and “It was resolved that they do not accept and that they ask you to reconsider your action, earnestly hoping you will see the matter in the same light.” She also received a letter, signed by 14 teachers, saying, “We beg of you to reconsider your resignation. Do not leave us. We feel that no one can take your place and be to us what you have been.”

In 1908, the city of Bloomington voted to honor the beloved educator by dedicating the recently completed school at 9th and Indiana as the Margaret McCalla School. After it had served Bloomington elementary students for 66 years, Bloomington decided to retire the McCalla school in 1973.

By 1974, the McCalla school was acquired by Indiana University and has served the IU School of Art + Design for many years, most recently as production spaces for IU students and faculty (including a wood and metal shop) and, for 17 years, as home to the school’s rotating exhibits of the Fuller Projects.

In its new incarnation, the McCalla School will build on this history of education and exhibition with remodeled classrooms, a learning lab, gallery spaces, and a renovated multipurpose room. The new Collections Teaching, Research, and Exhibition Center at McCalla hopes to carry on Margaret McCalla’s passion for education and service to the Bloomington community.

McCalla History, Indian University. Accessed June 24th 2021.

About University Collections, Indiana University. Accessed June 24th 2021.

Collections Teaching, Research & Exhibition Center in the historic McCall School, Indiana University. Accessed June 24th 2021.