He is arguably one of the most iconic painters of the 20th Century and although Bob Ross has been gone for nearly 30 years, the popularity of public television’s favorite painter continues to grow. It’s evidenced by The Bob Ross Experience seeing attendance numbers increase seven-fold since its opening at Minnetrista in Muncie last October. Bob Ross filmed the majority of “The Joy of Painting” from the former home of WIPB-TV in Muncie, which has been converted into a permanent exhibit.
Around INdiana Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman visited The Bob Ross Experience on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
The first floor of the old yellow brick house was the home to “The Joy of Painting” from its inception in 1983 until 1988, when WIPB moved production to the campus of Ball State University. George Buss and his team at Minnetrista decided to step in to revive the Ross legacy.
“Realizing that this was the room where Bob had painted and feeling that power of place and realizing just how powerful that was, we worked with our collections team to actually interview old staff to understand their memories. So really everything you see in this room is a collection of memories,” said Buss. “When you look at the rest of the room, (you) realize how small it is for how big a thing that was happening in it.”
The exhibit features Ross’ original easel and some of his painting tools, as well as original paintings and recreations. Visitors can also see various items Ross would use to prepare for his show tapings.
Ross died from lymphoma in 1995, but his show remains in syndication on PBS stations across the country and perhaps, he’s just as popular as ever. His likeness has appeared on everything from Chia Pets to Funko Pop figures to board games.
So what would the late painter thing of the experience that bears his name?
“I think he would be tickled pink,” said Buss. “Bob would love it. I think he would love the idea of his fans being able not just to participate in the space, but also whenever you come here, you get to have an opportunity to put paint to canvas because any Bob experience isn’t complete without trying something and being part of the at fearless creativity.”