UNCOVER INDIANA’S SECRETS

Our world-class institution features unique exhibits and hands-on experiences that showcase the stories, events and characters that have helped shape Indiana’s history. Located in White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis, the Indiana State Museum brings the best of the museum world to Indiana.

Indiana State Museum

Constructed completely from Indiana materials – including limestone, sandstone, steel, brick and glass – the building itself is a work of art, with icons representing each of Indiana’s 92 counties integrated into its exterior walls. Spanning three floors, the museum tells the story of the Hoosier state, and features a year-round calendar of exhibits that explore Indiana art, science and culture from Indiana’s past, present and future through scientific, cultural, history and art exhibits that help define our place in the world.

The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites (ISMHS) is a statewide museum system with 12 locations, including a central museum based in Indianapolis. Through the museum and its 11 historic sites, visitors are able to engage with the past and connect it to the present, carrying their newfound knowledge and experiences with them long after their visits end.

Students on Field Trip
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The Indiana State Museum, Angel Mounds State Historic Site, Lanier Mansion State Historic Site, T.C. Steele State Historic Site, Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site, Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site and Limberlost State Historic Site are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, whose mission is to champion museums and nurture excellence in partnership with its members and allies. ISMHS is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supported through philanthropic contributions from individuals, corporations and grant funders to the ISMHS Foundation.

Our Mission

To serve as a catalyst for informal lifelong learning that connects the stories of real people, places and things.

Our Vision

Be the leader in informal lifelong learning that is recognized, sought-after and celebrated regionally, nationally and globally.

Pendulum

OUR BOARD IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE

The Indiana State Museum is privileged to have an incredible board of directors who believe in the power of museums. This passionate group of professionals is committed to our mission and dedicated to making our vision a reality. Learn more about our community partner guidelines and meeting schedules as well as board of directors meetings and audited financials here.

  • William A. Browne, Jr., Chair

    William (Bill) Browne, Jr., is the president and founding principal of RATIO Architects. Since establishing RATIO more than 30 years ago, Bill has led the expansion of the firm to four studio locations in Indianapolis, Chicago, Illinois, Raleigh, North Carolina, and Champaign, Illinois, a growing national body of expertise, and an international presence with work in Korea, China and Malaysia. Many of the firm’s most significant projects are located close to its home state of Indiana, including the expansion of the NCAA Headquarters, the Big Ten Conference Headquarters, the Indiana Convention Center, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the Notre Dame Stadium Master Plan, numerous higher education facilities, and of course, the Indiana State Museum. Bill is an active member of the Indianapolis community, currently serving as president of the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission. Bill also is involved with the White River State Park Commission, the Marian University Cycling Advisory Board, the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, the American Institute of Architects and Indiana Landmarks. He was a member of the 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee.

  • ANDREW DAHLEM, PH.D., VICE CHAIR

    Andrew Dahlem, Ph.D. is retired from Eli Lilly and Company, where he served as vice president of research and development with a demonstrated history of success in the pharmaceutical industry. He is a strong scientific and operations professional skilled in research and development strategy, drug development, due diligence, portfolio enablement, competitive intelligence, clinical trial design, toxicology and drug metabolism. He is an excellent mentor and coach to key talent and has strong team building skills.

  • ANDREW BRIGGS, TREASURER

    Andrew Briggs is the president and chief executive officer of the Bank of Geneva. He is the fifth-generation member of his family to serve as president of the bank. He has 40 years of banking experience and has been serving in his current position since 1994. He is past president of the Geneva Town Council and past treasurer of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. In addition to serving as the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites board treasurer, Andrew is active as the Bank of Geneva chairman, Limberlost Bancshares Inc. chairman, Limberlost State Historic Site corporate secretary, Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority director and Adams Public Library System treasurer. He also has served on the board of the Indiana Bankers Association as northeast region director and second vice chair, and he is a member of the IBA Forty Year Club.

  • LIZ WITTE, SECRETARY

    Liz Witte serves as the vice president of planning & corporate development at Vectren Corporation. During her 20+ years with Vectren, Liz has served in finance, investment and strategic planning roles in both the regulated and nonregulated parts of the company.

  • CATHY FERREE, PRESIDENT & CEO, EX OFFICIO

    Cathy Ferree was named president and CEO of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites on May 1, 2017. She joined the museum from Conner Prairie, where she served as the vice president and chief operating officer, overseeing facilities, programming, education, exhibits and more. She served as the primary investigator on a $2.3 million National Science Foundation Grant. Prior to her work at Conner Prairie, Cathy served as the associate vice president of exhibits at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, where she secured a significant sponsorship from Delta Faucet for the “Bob the Builder” exhibit, among other achievements. Before joining The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Ferree served as a founding member of staff for The Children’s Museum of Atlanta. Ferree has more than 30 years of experience in the museum industry. She earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Public Affairs in Nonprofit Management from Indiana University.

  • GARY ANDERSON

    Gary Anderson received his medical degree from the University of Michigan and continued his medical education at Indiana University. He served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and Fort Bragg and subsequently became an academic cardiologist. After moving into the corporate world, he became CEO of several companies in communications and database management. Subsequently, he co-founded TL Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on high technology investments. Gary has held numerous positions in the nonprofit sector, including directorships in the Franklin Institute, Indiana University Foundation (IUF), Indiana University Research and Technology Corporation and served as chair of the IUF Investment committee. He has also served on the IU Advisory Boards of the Kelley School of Business, the School of Informatics and Computer Engineering, the Jacobs School of Music (chair) and the Center for Constitutional Democracy (chair). He is married to his wife, Kathy. They have five children and live in Brown County.

  • STEFAN S. ANDERSON

    Stefan (Steve) Anderson is the retired CEO and chairman of First Merchants Corporation where he served for 25 years. A former board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, he was one of the founders of the Muncie Community Foundation and currently serves as chair of the George and Frances Ball Foundation and the Crossroads of America BSA Foundation. A past chair and life trustee of The Indiana Nature Conservancy and of the Ball State University Foundation, he currently serves as treasurer of the IU Health/BMH Foundation.

  • MELISSA CAITO

    Melissa Caito is chief operating officer of the Indy Championships Fund, Inc., an organization tasked with raising more than $25 million to support the planning and execution of the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, the 2021 NCAA Men’s Final Four and the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Previously, she served as vice president of external relations and community affairs for Indiana Sports Corporation, account manager at Sport Graphics, Inc., vice president of marketing for The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and other positions. Melissa serves as a chair or member of numerous committees, project teams and community organizations. She graduated from Indiana University, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in sports marketing and management.

  • FRED CATE

    Cate currently serves as vice president for research at Indiana University and is a Distinguished Professor and C. Ben Dutton Professor of Law at IU’s Maurer School of Law. He is also a senior fellow of IU’s Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research. Cate is an elected member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Law Institute, and he is a fellow of Phi Beta Kappa. He chairs the National Academies’ study on Law Enforcement and Intelligence Access to Encrypted Content and is a member of the National Academies’ Forum on Cyber Resilience, as well as other government and not-for-profit advisory panels. He also serves as a senior policy advisor to the Centre for Information Policy Leadership at Hunton & Williams LLP.

  • LINDA CONTI

    Linda Conti serves as the senior vice president and wealth advisor of Noyes Financial Group. She acts as team leader for successful individuals and families who seek to focus and manage their financial lives. As a three-time winner of Indianapolis Monthly’s Top Wealth Managers, Linda assists her clients with all aspects of their financial security: asset, liability, risk and transition management. Her strength is listening to clients’ goals, concerns and needs, and matching them to experts who can help, whether it is with tax or legal issues or with paying their bills. Linda also has 14 years of industry experience at Merrill Lynch, A.G. Edwards and Wachovia.

  • NANCY JORDAN

    Nancy Jordan, Lincoln Financial

    Nancy Jordan is senior vice president of Individual Annuity Operations at Lincoln Financial Group, and a member of the company’s Corporate Leadership Group. Nancy and her team are responsible for issuing, providing post-sale service and retaining Lincoln’s variable and fixed annuity products. She is professionally affiliated with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Indiana CPA Society and the Financial Executives International. She is also actively involved in a number of industry groups and advisory boards. Active in community affairs, Nancy is Lincoln’s site leader for the Fort Wayne operations. She is on the board of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and its insurance economic development cluster. She is a board member for Greater Fort Wayne Inc. and a member of its Downtown Development Committee.

  • THAO NGUYEN

    Thao Nguyen is a partner at Plews Shadley Racher & Braun where she focuses her practice on insurance coverage for policyholders and complex environmental and commercial litigation. She also handles transactions involving environmentally impacted real estate for both buyers and sellers. Thao represents companies from Fortune 100 to small, family-owned enterprises. She is a past chair of the Indiana State Bar Association’s Environmental Law Section. She has served on the board of governors of the St. Joseph County Bar Association and was chair of the Pro Bono Committee for many years.

  • KATHY ROUDEBUSH

    A native of Central Indiana, Kathy Roudebush has lived in Fort Wayne for more than 30 years. Kathy has practiced law for three decades with a focus on civil litigation. She was a co-founder of the Allen County Bar Association’s Women’s Section, served on the Character and Fitness and Nominating Committees of the Indiana State Bar Association, and served on the board and many committees of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association. She has served as a community volunteer on many boards of directors, including Jr. League, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne Ballet, Friends of the Parks, Allen County SPCA, Super Shot (children’s no cost vaccine clinics) and others, where she most often works in the areas of governance, strategic planning, leadership, and fund development. She provides workshops to many organizations on these topics as well.

  • ALICE SCHLOSS

    Alice Kingsbury Schloss is an Indianapolis native who has lived in Indianapolis most of her life. She also lived briefly in Newburgh during childhood, Massachusetts while attending Mount Holyoke College, Chicago as an intern for Red Cross’ Service to Military Families and Philadelphia for graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work. She and her husband Bob returned to Indianapolis in 1965 where they raised their two sons and a daughter. Though she received a Master of Social Work (MSW)from IU School of Social Service, Alice has made a career of volunteer service in educational, cultural, medical and social issue organizations. Though no longer an activist, she supports such not-for-profits as a board member and philanthropist. Current board memberships other than the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites include the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the International Violin Competition, Herron School of Art and Design Advisory Board, and Eskenazi Health Foundation.

  • ROLAND SHELTON

    Roland Shelton is a management professional with more than 20 years of expertise in leadership and managing areas of manufacturing, higher education and corporate sales. Currently, as Senior Vice President with Old National Bank, Roland oversees growth opportunities in the Terre Haute and Indianapolis markets. He is an inspirational leader who tells stories that inspire action while at the same time is grounded in servant leadership. He is respected as a credible voice in decision making, finding strategic financing partners for ONB, and promoting diversity and inclusion. Previously, as senior executive with several universities, Roland helped develop and implement comprehensive campaign strategies totaling more than $200 million. He helped launch two of General Motors’ most iconic brands – The Chevrolet Corvette C6 and Cadillac XLR convertible roadster – and went on to manage a division of 1,300 employees at the Kansas City Fairfax Manufacturing Plant. Roland is married to Renee Shelton and they have two children, Braxton and Bentley.

  • JUDY SINGLETON

    Judy Singleton, from Indianapolis, is a seventh-generation Hoosier with a deep interest in Indiana history. The author of two books on Indiana’s Trailblazing Women, Judy also is a businesswoman and community volunteer. In 1986, she co-founded Singleton Associates, a commercial real estate investment company. In 1990, she co-founded the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series, a program to develop women political and government leaders now with over 1,500 graduates nationwide. Named to an early list of “Most Influential Women” by the Indianapolis Business Journal, Judy serves on the board of the Lugar Series and has served on the boards of the Indiana Commission for Women, Girls Inc., Indiana Women’s Archives, the Indiana 4-H Foundation and the Purdue HSS Alumni Association. She received the Indiana Woman of Achievement Award from Ball State, the Hoosier Torchbearer Award from the Indiana Commission for Women, and was inducted into the Carmel High School Alumni Association Hall of Fame.

  • MARY WALKER

    Mary Walker is the executive director of the Wayne County Convention & Tourism Bureau Inc., serving in that role since 1981. In addition to the Indiana State Museum, she is a board member for the Indiana University East Board of Advisors and Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce (WCACC). She also is a member of numerous community organizations.

  • JOHN WECHSLER

    John has founded, co-founded or served in C-level roles in several high-growth and venture-backed startups including Formstack, Formspring, DeveloperTown, Vontoo, Wishoo and beenz. In 2012, John founded Launch Fishers, a 52,000-square-foot launch pad for start-ups and high-potential enterprises with the goal of being a catalyst for economic development. In 2014, John founded the statewide entrepreneurial mentorship initiative Launch Indiana, andhe continues to serve as an active advisor to entrepreneurs and startup teams. In 2017, John founded The Indiana IoT Lab in Fishers, a 24,000-square-foot innovation and commercialization hub for Internet of Things-related enterprises. John has been a lifetime volunteer with community and nonprofit organizations and currently serves on the board of directors of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, where he co-chairs the Technology & Innovation Council. John also served in the U.S. Army, where he learned the art of rappelling from helicopters as an Air Assault-Qualified Combat Engineer in the First Cavalry Division at Ft. Hood, Texas.

  • ROBIN WINSTON

    A native of Washington, Pennsylvania, Robin Winston is a graduate of the University of Louisville. Now a successful businessman in Indianapolis, he runs one the largest minority-owned government-affairs, community-relations and public-outreach firms in the nation. Robin is a life member of the NAACP and a member of the Dean’s Council of the IUPUI School of Liberal Arts. In addition, he is a political analyst for WTHR. In 2008, he worked with the Obama for President staff on the General Election campaign. His firm provided office space for the GOTV, field and legal components of the campaign. He was selected as a member of the Presidential Electoral College.

Atrium

A deeper dive into the history of the Indiana State Museum

The original collection of the Indiana State Museum dates back to the Civil War, when in 1862 State Librarian R. Deloss Brown began collecting minerals and other curiosities in a cabinet.

A Museum 150+ Years in the Making

  • 1869

    In 1869, the Indiana General Assembly enacted a law which provided “for the collection and preservation of a Geological and Mineralogical Cabinet of the Natural History of this State.” A state geologist was assigned the task of labeling and organizing the collection, becoming the first employee of the Indiana State Museum. The natural history collection quickly developed beyond the legislature’s original intent when hundreds of cultural items, many relating to the recent Civil War, were added. Soon the collection was a museum of sorts, with a hodge-podge of curios and specimens.

  • 1888

    While the collection started as a natural history collection, it quickly grew to include objects and artifacts of all different types. The museum’s collection was displayed in a spacious room on the third floor of the State Capitol building in 1888, but it didn’t remain there for long. It was frequently moved from room to room until 1919, when the collection was sent to a most inhospitable place, the basement of the Statehouse. It would languish in this location for almost 45 years, completely closing once in the late 1920s and again in the early 1960s.

  • 1917

    In 1917, the first of the 11 historic sites was established: Corydon Capitol State Historic Site. The other 10 were acquired up through 1976, in an effort to maintain historic sites around the state that pertained to especially important moments or stories in state history.

  • 1945

    Then, during the administration of Governor Ralph H. Gates (1945-1949), important steps were taken to establish a new and modern state museum. Staff members who knew how to care for artifacts and operate a museum were hired. Possible sites for a new facility were studied and designs created. Philanthropist Eli Lilly, excited by the prospect of a professional-quality museum of Indiana heritage, donated the ground on the northwest corner of Ohio and Senate streets to the state. Unfortunately, the plans fell through, probably due to the $3.5 million price tag.

  • 1957

    Later, the administration of Governor Harold W. Handley (1957-1961) and the legislature authorized a commission to examine the state museum. The commission recommended the construction of a building on the site originally proposed by the Gates administration. The commission reported that its members had “been forced to the reluctant conclusion that Indiana has the poorest and most inadequate state museum in the United States.”

  • 1962

    It wasn’t until 1962 that Governor Matthew E. Welsh (1961-1965) approved the resumption of the planning for a new state museum, but with a very different direction. The Indianapolis City Hall at 202 N. Alabama St. had become vacant in 1961. The state and the city worked out an agreement for the museum to use the building. The structure was to undergo massive renovations to prepare it for life as a museum, at a cost of about $830,000.

  • 1967

    In 1967, the Indiana State Museum opened its doors in its first real home at 202 N. Alabama St., the previous location of the Indianapolis City Hall.. It had four floors and a basement in which to develop exhibits, store and preserve collections, and provide office space for staff.

  • 1969

    In 1969, the Indiana State Museum Society (now the Indiana State Museum Foundation) was established to provide a private, fund-raising support organization. Also in 1969, the Indiana State Museum Volunteer Organization was established to support the small museum staff.

  • 1976

    By 1976, the museum had received accreditation from the American Association of Museums.

  • 1978

    As years passed and the collection grew, the old City Hall was becoming too small to meet the needs of the institution. Proposals were made in the late 1970s and mid-1980s for a variety of additions to the facility. Some involved purchasing nearby buildings, and others involved creating brand-new facilities that would connect to the old City Hall building.

  • 1984

    The museum’s board voted to move to White River State Park in 1984. However, it was not until the late 1990s that the Indiana General Assembly appropriated funding for an August 1999 groundbreaking for what would become the current Indiana State Museum.

  • 2001

    The Indiana State Museum closed its doors in the old City Hall on Dec. 31, 2001, to prepare for its move to a new home at 650 W. Washington St. in the heart of White River State Park. On May 22, 2002, the new Indiana State Museum welcomed more than 5,000 visitors into the new building.

  • 2002

    On May 22, 2002, the Indiana State Museum officially opened in its current location at 650 W. Washington St. The IMAX movie theater attached to the museum was there first, so the museum building was actually built around it. The building itself is a work of art, designed by architect and current museum board president Bill Browne. The museum features representation of all 92 counties on its exterior walls, and all of the details are laden with symbolism of Indiana history – from the construction materials used to the patterns on the floors in the galleries. The story of the building is told in the book “Stone, Steel & Spirit,” sold in the ISMHS gift shop.

  • 2011

    ISMHS was under the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) throughout most of its history, until a bill passed into law on July 1, 2011, making ISMHS a quasigovernmental agency. This means that while the museum is funded in part by the State, it functions independently in most aspects.

  • 2018

    By 2018, the museum’s collection boasted upward of 500,000 objects. Active science was taking place, with many of the curators working as researchers and conducting archaeological and geological digs out in the field at locations around Indiana. The museum has one of the three largest Abraham Lincoln collections in the world and provides free school trips for all Indiana K-12 students. The current president and CEO of ISMHS is Cathy Ferree, who assumed the position on May 1, 2017.

  • 2020

    Today, the Indiana State Museum continues to explore Indiana’s science and culture. Visitors come to celebrate, investigate, remember, learn and take pride in Indiana’s story in the context of our broader world. Look around our website for a peek at what you can find today at the Indiana State Museum.