The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites Collection

Since 1869, ISMHS has collected, preserved and presented Indiana’s history, arts and natural sciences. Along with more than 500,000 objects, we also collect and preserve stories, information and scientific data that provide perspective on the state’s present and future.

Within the collection are six Centers of Excellence. These are distinguished by the extraordinary quality of the objects and the depth of staff expertise.

Ice Age Paleontology: ISMHS is a top authority on Ice Age paleontology in Indiana, and holds mammoths and mastodons from more localities than any other museum in the Midwest. Many of the specimens were recovered during the museum’s field expeditions. You can see Fred the mastodon and others in the Frozen Reign gallery at the museum.

Abraham Lincoln: The Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, one of the country’s most important collections relating to Abraham Lincoln and his times, was given to the Indiana State Museum in 2009 and continues to grow. It includes copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment signed by Lincoln and the Lincoln family’s personal photographs and belongings, among tens of thousands of items. The collection is curated in partnership with the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne. Lincoln items are on view in the core galleries and through regular temporary exhibitions. You can also explore the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection in depth through its own dedicated website by clicking here.

Indiana Art and Artists: ISMHS has rich holdings of historic and contemporary Indiana art, including the largest collection of work by Hoosier School impressionist T.C. Steele. Steele’s Brown County home and studio is one of our twelve locations.

Quilts and textiles: Our internationally renowned textiles collection includes one of the best-documented Amish quilt collections in existence as well as a strong costume collection covering work clothes to high-end Indiana designers.

Indiana Industry, Technology and Agriculture: Our collection features technical innovations and products that have profoundly affected life in America and beyond, and includes items of historic, cultural and industrial significance. These include ground-breaking work in the automotive, communications and agricultural industries.

Archaeology: Native Woodland and Mississippian cultures are represented as well as historic archaeological material related to the state’s settlement, some excavated at our historic sites. You can see Native American artifacts in the First Nations core gallery and at Angel Mounds State Historic Site and can find archaeological evidence of Indiana’s last 200 years in our second floor museum galleries.  

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For assistance finding specific items or topics, contact Traci Cromwell, director of collections, at or 317.234.1719.

For licensing requests and questions about rights and reproductions please email If you already know the material you wish to request, you may send a completed Application for Image Usage Rights Permission.