When contemplating an exhibit that would pay homage to Indiana’s bicentennial, which is being celebrated this year, one might expect a museum with the words “art” and “history” in its title to delve deep into the state’s past. However, New Albany’s Carnegie Center for Art and History did just the opposite. “Houndmouth: From the Hills to the Limelight,” an exhibit on local indie-rock band Houndmouth, opens Friday, Oct. 28.
“We can’t allow ourselves to do anything too normal, so we decided, instead, to turn our attention to who’s making history now,” Carnegie curator Daniel Pfalzgraf tells Insider. “Houndmouth is obviously an incredible story to come out of New Albany, Ind., so it was a perfect subject.”
Houndmouth was formed in 2011 by Matt Myers, Zak Appleby, Katie Toupin and Shane Cody. The band steadily rose to fame, releasing two albums — From the Hills Below the City in 2013 and Little Neon Limelight in 2015 — and playing everywhere from South by Southwest to the “Late Show with David Letterman.”
The Carnegie exhibit features hundreds of photos, posters, instruments, outfits and personal items, like scraps of paper with lyrics scrawled on them and other random paraphernalia, says Pfalzgraf. “We also have the original 19th century paintings by New Albany painter George W. Morrison that were used for the album art with their early EP and 45.”
Toupin left the band earlier this year, but the band continues to tour and make music.
Pfalzgraf says the museum began working on the exhibit before Toupin left, and since she was an integral part of the band’s formation and success, she is, of course, present in the exhibit as well.
“Fundamentally, this is a history exhibit, and you can’t tell the story of Houndmouth without including one of the founding members,” he says. “Everyone was on the same page with that understanding throughout the whole process of organizing the show.”
Pfalzgraf was impressed with how the band and everyone involved — managers, families, friends — stepped up to help with the exhibit, giving the museum unprecedented access given their limited time with a heavy tour schedule. There was just one challenge, however.
“The hardest part was was convincing them to allow us to do this, because they are all a very humble group of folks and don’t like to toot their own horns,” says Pfalzgraf. “We were able to convince them of the sincerity of our intentions, and they finally gave their blessing without too much arm twisting.”
The opening reception will be held on Friday, Oct. 28, from 6-9 p.m. Pfalzgraf says Myers, Appleby and Cody plan to attend the party as well. “Houndmouth: From the Hills to the Limelight” continues through Jan. 21. The Carnegie Center is located at 201 E. Spring St. in New Albany.