Published December 8, 2018

Experience Indiana’s past and present through history, art and science at the Indiana State Museum

By Renee Bruck

In the heart of downtown Indianapolis stands a world-class institution filled with real artifacts and stories that highlight all things Indiana, from its geological beginnings to present day and even the future.

Three levels of interactive and multi-sensory galleries at the Indiana State Museum provide visitors an opportunity to explore and take a deeper look into the state’s art, science, culture and history, all in one place.

Level 1

On Level 1, explore the beginnings of Indiana from the creation of the continents and use the interactive OmniGlobe to see how earth has changed over time in Birth of the Earth. Then, wander through Ancient Seas and see fossils from a time when water covered the Hoosier state.

Feel the cool wind as you step into an ice cave in Frozen Reign before winding your way through reconstructed caves, seeing a rare peccary skull and marveling at mastodon skeletons found right here in Indiana. Then, learn about Indiana’s Native cultures in First Nations, which celebrates the peoples that first called Indiana home and has displays of rare artifacts.

Explore hands-on science in the R.B. Annis Naturalist’s Lab and become a scientist yourself by using tools to investigate the world around us. Then, discover the diverse landscapes that make up Indiana and the animals that live here as you walk through our Natural Regions experience.

And in the Great Hall, discover moving stories in Legacy Theater, a cultural experience highlighting the contributions of African American Hoosiers from the beginning of the state’s history through the present.

Level 2

Move forward through Indiana’s history on Level 2 and learn about its early history, from the arrival of the first French traders to territorial status, in Contested Territory.

Then explore Indiana’s early statehood and life on the frontier in 19th State, where you can pack a wagon for your journey to the new state and see if you can make the crosscut saw sing. Be sure to find the mallet that once belonged to young Abraham Lincoln – complete with his initials.

In The Hoosier Way, learn about Indiana’s first methods of transportation and explore Indiana’s role in the Civil War. From there, you’ll enter the Crossroads of America gallery and learn how Indiana earned the nickname, thanks to railroads that connected places and incredible Hoosier authors and artists who connected people through their work.

Learn about World War I, immigration, prohibition and suffrage through real objects made and used during this tumultuous time in our Enterprise Indiana gallery.

To learn about Indiana’s worldwide influence, explore Global Indiana, where you’ll get up-close with the atomic age style of the Studebaker Champion automobile, the beginnings of color television and more.

Finally, see how many familiar faces you recognize in American Originals, where you can learn the stories of modern Hoosiers who have made an impact here in the state and at a national level.

Level 3

Traveling exhibitions and temporary experiences find a home on Level 3, so don’t miss your chance to see them while they are at the Indiana State Museum.

Currently, you’ll find the Santa Claus Express train, a vintage L.S. Ayres window display and nostalgic holiday presents in the Level 3 portion of our Celebration Crossing experience. Be sure to check out THE ART OF THE BRICK, which features more than 80 original sculptures made entirely of LEGO bricks. Both experiences are open through Jan. 6.

And, let your imagination run wild in Cardboard Engineering, where you’ll find plenty of cardboard and tape to create whatever you can think up. Find inspiration by studying items from our collection or by taking a look at the fantastic creation someone else left behind. This experience is open through May 27.

Galleries on Level 3 change often, so plan your visit to the Indiana State Museum soon! And be sure to stay tuned for future exhibitions – which we’ll be excited to share with you in 2019!

Until then, don’t forget to follow along on FacebookTwitter and Instagram throughout the month of December to learn more fun facts about the Indiana State Museum and its collection.