The museum's collection of Indiana Impression is significant in a number of ways. The inaugural donation to the museum's permanent collection in 1921 by Theodore Thieme was all Indiana Impressionism: a gift of ten paintings featuring the work of notable Brown County artists William Forsyth, J. Ottis Adams, and Homer Davisson. The style represents an important turning point in American art as well: this style, more than ever before, rejected most of the current teachings in academic, studio-based art and effectively inspired greater departure from academic painting as the decades of the early 20th century unfolded.
The style, marked by textured, active brushstrokes as a result of looser and more dynamic artist motion, intended to evoke more emotional and sensual responses from the viewer rather than represent specific detail or document factual elements of people, places, or things. The Indiana Impressionists are known for their love of the untouched natural environment isolated from developed towns and cities, and their compositions emphasize the trees, hills, and natural lakes of Indiana's landscape. Their works were begun (and often finished) out of doors, with a range of colors dotting the canvases to represent changing light and shifting winds. Colors in these works are warm and rich, with hues of red, orange, green, and brown used to convey the colors of Indiana.