Blog

At the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, we are the keepers not only of facts and objects, but also of stories – and it’s part of our mission to share those stories with you. The purpose of this blog is to share the stories of our history, artifacts, volunteers, staff and more. Be sure to check this space for updates, and follow us on social media to learn even more about who we are and what we do across the state of Indiana.

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Category: blog

Experience a one-of-a-kind national treasure at Whitewater Canal State Historic Site

By Renee Bruck Use of Indiana’s Whitewater Canal for commercial transportation lasted less than 15 years in the 1800s, yet the early mode of transportation made an impact that continues today throughout the Whitewater Valley. Whitewater Canal State Historic Site – which preserves a 14-mile section of the canal from Brookville to Laurel – gives visitors a glimpse of canal towns that grew and thrived along canal systems in the 1830s and 1840s. These towns became hubs of... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Friday, August 31, 2018

Fall fun for everyone, at the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites

This autumn, the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites has everything your family needs to get into the fall spirit. From beautiful leaf-viewing destinations to spooky nights out, it’s time to grab your boots, throw on a cozy sweater and hit the road. We’ve got your fall checklist covered – and we promise these are events and opportunities you won’t want to miss. Fall foliage? Check. Nothing says fall like the bloom of gorgeous fall colors across the... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Friday, August 31, 2018

THE ART OF THE BRICK is coming to the Indiana State Museum

Lovers of LEGO® bricks, rejoice! This blockbuster exhibition, featuring more than 80 original sculptures made entirely of LEGO bricks, is coming to the Indiana State Museum starting Sept. 29. Designed  to  inspire  ingenuity  and  creativity,  THE  ART  OF  THE  BRICK  is  the  world's  largest  and  most  elaborate  display  of  LEGO  art  featuring  sculptures by... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Monday, July 30, 2018

Learn about utopian communities at New Harmony State Historic Site

By Renee Bruck There’s a quiet town on the banks of the Wabash that’s home to only about 800 residents but contains 204 years of Indiana history through the stories of its buildings and grounds just waiting for you to explore. New Harmony State Historic Site served as home in the 1800s to two groups of people seeking heaven on Earth and trying to establish a model community where education, hard work and social equality would be part of daily life. George Rapp and the... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Monday, July 2, 2018

Classes and programs coming up in July

By Hannah Kiefer At the Indiana State Museum, we want you and your family to be able to explore your interests – whether they have to do with science, culture, art, history or something else entirely. New this year, we have classes for all ages, from toddlers to adults. Take a look at all of our offerings below and sign up for your favorites today by calling (317) 232-1637. Early Childhood Programs We get it: Young children can be tricky to entertain. That’s why... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Friday, June 29, 2018

Bee-lieve it or not: Five things to know about honey bees

By Kelsey Kotnik Happy National Pollinator Week ! Bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles all are pollinators and important parts of our ecosystem. As a matter of fact, the Indiana State Museum has beehives at three of its locations: Indiana State Museum , Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site and Angel Mounds State Historic Site. Learn five interesting facts about honey bees in this sweet blog paired with photos from our museum beehive. Then, come on in to the Indiana... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Thursday, June 21, 2018

Corydon Capitol State Historic Site showcases story of statehood beginnings

By Renee Bruck  Indiana’s capital may be located in the center of the Hoosier State today, but it wasn’t always that way.  In fact, an area just north of the Ohio River became the site where statesmen transformed Indiana from a territory into a state in the early 1800s. But the Corydon Capitol State Historic Site is much more than a historic town square. It’s a place where you can learn the story of Indiana’s early beginnings and also experience what... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Monday, June 4, 2018

Regional director voted “hometown hero” in New Albany

By Hannah Kiefer When a class of third-grade students from Mt. Tabor Elementary School was tasked with choosing hometown heroes, some of the choices were obvious.  The mayor seemed like a natural fit as a person who served as a visionary for the city. Josh Dallas – an actor from the city – was another easy pick as an emblem of success. Of course, there was Romeo Langford, the basketball player who caused quite a stir as the media awaited his college selection. ... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Monday, June 4, 2018

Whether your child loves fashion, cooking, or science, we’ve got a camp for that

When most parents think of summer camps, they think of overnights in cabins, swimming in lakes, roasting marshmallows and other traditional camp activities. But what if during a week of camp, your child could become an archaeologist or geologist? Learn about urban hiking? Design and create their own clothes – complete with a fashion runway show to model their creations?   At the Indiana State Museum, summer camp is about more than just “camping” – it’s... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Friday, May 18, 2018

Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites to adjust hours and close on Mondays starting June 1

On June 1, 2018, the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites system will adjust its operating hours, including closing all 12 locations on Mondays.  To answer common questions about what this means for you as a visitor, we’ve created the following FAQ sheet. Additional questions can be directed to museumcommunication@indianamuseum.org , or by calling 317-232-1637.  Why will the museum and historic sites be closed on Mondays?  The Indiana State Museum and Historic... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Friday, May 18, 2018

Director of collections has eye for more than artifacts

Traci Cromwell designs, creates her own clothes   By Hannah Kiefer Those who know Traci Cromwell – the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites’ Director of Collections – have likely noticed one thing: She’s always wearing dresses or outfits you’ve never seen anywhere else.  As it turns out, that’s because you haven’t seen them anywhere before. In her spare time, Traci creates just about all of her own clothing – from... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Friday, May 4, 2018

Indiana’s new state insect has roots in New Harmony

Staff report As of this March, the State of Indiana has an official state insect with roots in one of our own locations: New Harmony State Historic Site.  “Four years ago, while working on a class project, second graders at Cumberland Elementary School in West Lafayette realized that Indiana was one of only three states without a state insect,” said Amanda Bryden, site manager at New Harmony State Historic Site. “They thought this wasn’t good company to be... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Friday, May 4, 2018

Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site offers natural beauty and an incredible story

By Hannah Kiefer Tucked away in Rome City, a small town in northeast Indiana, there’s a place where visitors can learn about a Hoosier woman who paved the way for women across multiple industries: Gene Stratton-Porter. Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site was established in 1946, and in the more than seven decades since then, visitors have been delighted with not only the natural beauty of the site, but also the story of Gene. “Gene was a woman ahead of her... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Museum staff dig for Ice Age animals

Staff Report Earlier in April, seven Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites staff members set off on a mission: to find Ice Age remains in Indiana Caverns during the course of a six-day dig.  They were not disappointed.  Inside a cavern with a 100-foot-high ceiling, museum staff found a gem right on the surface – a perfect flat-headed peccary skull, dating back about 40,000 years. It’s estimated that only a few dozen skulls of that caliber exist in the United... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Tuesday, April 17, 2018

11 day trips your kids will love

At the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, we believe kids can be whatever they can dream. We have a huge variety of offerings that allow kids to experience history and dream about their futures. In addition to the Indiana State Museum, our 11 historic sites are located throughout the state and are significant to Hoosier history. Each site has a unique story and activities to unleash kids’ imaginations. Below, you’ll learn a bit about each site and what kids will love about... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Monday, April 9, 2018

Five idol-worthy women of Hoosier history

Who says you have to come from a big city or a wealthy family to make an impact? This Women’s History Month, we look at five bold Hoosier women who made it possible for today’s women to be an integral part of the workforce, strong political voices and pioneers in various fields. Polly Strong (ca. 1796 – ?) Freewoman | Vincennes, Knox County Why she’s idol-worthy: Polly Strong stood up for herself and fought for her freedom despite people trying to hold her back.... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Curt Burnette combines love of nature, history at Limberlost State Historic Site

By Hannah Kiefer Curt Burnette has had many jobs over the years. He’s been a zookeeper. An administrator. A Cajun swamp tour guide. An alligator handler behind the scenes at the “Today Show” and “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” But today, he works as a program developer and naturalist at Limberlost State Historic Site – and he constantly goes beyond his job description to serve all visitors to the site. Limberlost State Historic Site... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Explore Indiana’s earliest history at Vincennes State Historic Sites

By Kelsey Cook Indiana may have become a state in 1816, but its rich history dates back much further. “If you want to get an idea of Indiana history, Vincennes is one of the first places people should see,” said David Weaver, site manager at Vincennes State Historic Sites .   This historic site, one of the 12 locations associated with the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, tells the story of Indiana before it was even a state, going back to the time... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Cook at Friday, March 9, 2018

Archaeological artifacts offer look at Indiana’s earliest history

By Kelsey Cook Employees of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites don’t work solely within the confines of the museum’s locations. In fact, they often participate in fieldwork across the entire state of Indiana. That’s a major component of director of archaeology Michele Greenan’s job. She serves as both curator of archaeology and protector of archaeological resources, specifically at the 11 historic sites around the state. “The properties we... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Friday, March 9, 2018

Fred the Mastodon moves to permanent home at the Indiana State Museum

       Fred’s excavation In June of 1998, Dan Buesching was operating a dragline excavator on his family farm near Fort Wayne, digging up a clump of tree roots surrounded by peat moss from a lake. He was about to smash the mass with the dragline’s bucket when he noticed something that didn’t belong: Teeth. And these weren’t teeth like Dan had seen before – these were much bigger, and with a distinctive shape. In fact, Dan had... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Friday, March 2, 2018

Bringing home the gold: Exhibit developer recalls family’s Olympic past

By Hannah Kiefer When exhibit developer Cathy Donnelly recalls spending summers with her aunt Fraze Donnelly, she remembers swimming in Little Chapman Lake, near Warsaw, Ind. Fraze would take time every summer to teach Cathy and her sister to swim. They would spend afternoons floating in the water on inner tubes or going out on Fraze’s boat to fish or catch turtles. Fraze always loved the water and swimming, and for good reason. In 1924, Fraze competed – and won a gold... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Thursday, March 1, 2018

How does one ship a 150+ year old quilt made by Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker?

Staff Report When visitors walk into a gallery at the Indiana State Museum, they likely don’t notice the subtle changes. The lights are a bit dimmed. Overhead, spotlights highlight objects on the walls and in cases – each light set to the perfect level. There might be a drop in temperature, depending on the artifacts on display.  All of that – from the lighting to the thermostat setting – is intentional.  While the Indiana State Museum focuses much of... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Thursday, February 22, 2018

Culbertson’s legacy of benevolence continues on today

By Kelsey Cook Visitors to Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site learn all about the benevolent actions of William S. Culbertson – a man who used his wealth and influence to better the community.  Courtesy of Tyler Stewart, News & Tribune Though once considered to be Indiana’s wealthiest man, it’s his benevolence and care for his community that left the most lasting impression. Philanthropy and charitable giving are both forms of benevolence, but... Read More
Posted by Julie Schaefer at Thursday, February 15, 2018

Discover a masterpiece of Victorian artistry at Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site

By Kelsey Cook  When driving through downtown New Albany, Ind., visitors will find streets that are lined with beautiful historic homes, located right along the banks of the Ohio River.  One of these homes near the end of Main Street is Culbertson Mansion – one of the 12 locations associated with the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites.  The home, which began construction in 1867 and took two years to complete, is listed on the National Register of Historic... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Cook at Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Volunteer shares stories of her ancestor at Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site

By Kelsey Cook  Visitors arrive to the Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site expecting to learn a lot about the Underground Railroad and the important role that the Coffin home played in so many freedom seekers’ journeys to freedom.   But, if the y are lucky enough to visit on a day that Eileen Baker-Wall is volunteering, they will leave the site with an even better understanding for what freedom seekers went through before, during and after their time at the... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Cook at Friday, January 26, 2018

Rock on: GeoFest returns to Indiana State Museum

Staff Report Each year, rock collectors look forward to one of their favorite Indiana State Museum events: GeoFest. Gems, fossils, rocks, minerals, jewelry and more all will be on display to browse and purchase at this unique event Feb. 16 through 18. About 20 different vendors from around the nation will participate. Both younger and more seasoned rock enthusiasts will enjoy special programming to explore geology by making their own geodes or jewelry, seeing fluorescing minerals,... Read More
Posted by Julie Schaefer at Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Sixty-plus Hoosier artists to showcase at Indiana Art Fair

Staff Report  From black-and-white photography to insects displayed in glass, the Indiana Art Fair offers an opportunity for guests to browse the offerings of more than 60 different Hoosier artists and engage with them about their unique art styles. The Indiana Art Fair is Feb. 10 and 11 at the museum. Art on display and for sale will include traditional art such as photography, paintings or jewelry, as well as some more unusual offerings – including pressed flowers, ceramics... Read More
Posted by Julie Schaefer at Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Rare documents signed by Lincoln to be displayed at Indiana State Museum

Staff Report  In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Jan. 15, visitors to the Indiana State Museum will not only receive free admission with donation of a canned food item for Gleaners Food Bank: They will also have an exclusive opportunity to see copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and 13th Amendment signed by Abraham Lincoln.  The Emancipation Proclamation announced the freedom of slaves in Confederate-held territory, and the 13th Amendment ended legal slavery... Read More
Posted by Julie Schaefer at Monday, January 8, 2018

Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site shares stories of the Coffins, freedom seekers

By Kelsey Cook  Just 90 minutes east of Indianapolis in Fountain City, there is a simple red house that sits in the middle of town.  It’s an eight room, Federal-style brick home that initially appears similar to any other house built in the area during the 19th century.  Inside, however, visitors today will discover the secrets and stories of the many freedom seekers who stayed at the home during their journey on the Underground Railroad.  The Levi and... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Cook at Thursday, January 4, 2018