TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — “122 years ago, Sheldon Swope had hoped, that we would have great art accessible to all and free,” Brad Balch, Chairman of the Swope’s Capital Campaign said.

The Sheldon Swope Art Museum collects, preserves and shares American art to engage a diverse audience.

For nearly a century, Terre Haute residents and visitors from around the world have experienced critically acclaimed art by renowned artists and have never paid an admission fee at the Swope, Indiana’s first nationally accredited art museum.

Through their capital campaign, a $6 million campaign, the Swope hopes to make lasting improvements that will continue this legacy for generations to come.

Balch said this is the largest campaign in Swope history.

“We proudly announced that we are 80 percent toward that goal, having raised 4.8 million and so over the ensuing year we hope to raise the remaining 1.2 million dollars in a very public phase,” Blach said. “It’s our hope that this time next year we’re able to celebrate the completion of the 6-million-dollar campaign.”

Those improvements include three focused areas.

“The first is to support the endowment growth overtime for sustainable investments and staff and others within the Swope. Second, is to protect our very important collection. So, collection storage will be moving to something that is greatly upgraded and will ensure that that collection is available to our public for many, many years to come. And then thirdly is accessibility. If you have a chance to visit the Swope, you notice that the elevator is very small and accessibility to all three floors becomes difficult for many and so we’ll address those needs as well,” Balch said.

When the Swope opened in 1942, Art Digest’s April issue said Terre Haute’s museum is one of the new art centers of America.

USA Today recognized the Swope as ‘one of 10 great places to see art in smaller cities,’ and the goal, is to continue that ranking.

“This campaign really revisits the very heart of Sheldon Swope’s dream 122 years ago,” Balch said. “So, we’re going to protect our collection. We’re going to make it accessible to all and it will always be free.”

The Swope is now asking for gifts from friends and supporters to raise the remaining $1.2 million. Leaders hope by this time next year they will reach the goal in order to proceed with the projects.

Donations can be made at on their website or by calling the Swope at 812-238-1676.