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: Indiana State Museum

The season of giving: Holiday gifts in the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites collection

Writing to and receiving holiday letters from Santa Claus is a tradition that’s been going on for hundreds of years. Although the earliest letters actually came from Santa with warnings to children about their behavior, the tradition has changed over the years with children reaching out to the jolly old elf to tell him about their holiday wish lists.   Although we aren’t sure what her letter said, Santa Claus notes that Hilda Jay’s letter to Santa made him happy... Read More
at Monday, December 23, 2019

Why the opioid crisis?

By Cathy Ferree, President and CEO, Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites Museums are a place to have big conversations about ways we can all influence the present and future. Museums should broaden perspectives through real stories and artifacts, and they should also address the topics of today that are relevant to visitors. At the Indiana State Museum, we wanted to provide a place for our visitors to talk about a topic that can be shaming and isolating, and that affects every... Read More
at Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Real Encounters with the Unexplained

By Renee Bruck Stories about sightings of ghosts, spirits and other beings become commonplace as Halloween approaches, but Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites staff know it doesn’t take the turn of a calendar for unexplained things to start happening. To be clear, we’re not saying any of our locations are haunted. There are just some things that we haven’t been able to fully explain yet. Is it supernatural? Well, you’ll have to visit to decide for yourself. ... Read More
Posted by Renee Bruck at Friday, October 25, 2019

Five reasons you can’t miss Family Fright Night at the Indiana State Museum

It’s the season for all things creepy, kooky and a little spooky, and we can’t wait to celebrate with you on Oct. 11. But what can you expect at Family Fright Night at the Indiana State Museum? Here’s five reasons you’ll definitely want to be at this after-hours event. 1. Spooky maze (and spooky stories) Venture into our spooktacular cardboard castle maze – but only if you dare! Do YOU know what’s lurking around the corner of the maze in... Read More
Posted by Renee Bruck at Friday, October 4, 2019

Celebrate boundless curiosity at the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites during Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day

Have you ever wanted to feed your curiosity at the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites? What if you could visit for FREE? Well, on Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day – Saturday, Sept. 21 – you can do just that with a Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day ticket. One Museum Day ticket allows general museum entry for two people at most of our 12 locations from 10 am. to 5 p.m. At the Indiana State Museum in downtown Indianapolis, find your place in Indiana’s story by... Read More
Posted by Renee Bruck at Friday, September 13, 2019

13 haunted happenings from the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites

It’s September, and that means soon the leaves will start changing, the temperature will start dropping, and it’ll be time for all things spooky, haunted and Halloween.  Looking to plan some spooktacular fun? The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites has 13 events around the state sure to fit every family’s taste (and scare level). Tickets and details for each event can be found by clicking the event title.    1.  Quirky Queries:... Read More
Posted by Renee Bruck at Friday, September 6, 2019

Journey into The Vortex to experience an after-hours event like you’ve never seen before

What do you get when improv mixes with Ice Age animals from Indiana? A night of laughs and fun you won’t soon forget!  Join Character House Theatre Company at the Indiana State Museum for two spectacular 30-minute improv performances that just might have you taking the stage too during The Vortex: An Experiment, happening Thursday. The after-hours adults-only event is from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Vortex through thousands of years to the Ice Age in Indiana, and join in this... Read More
Posted by Renee Bruck at Monday, August 26, 2019

To the moon: Celebrating “one giant leap for mankind” during Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary

By Renee Bruck Fifty years ago, two American astronauts made history when they safely landed on the surface of the moon.  Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down on the moon on July 20, 1969, after launching into space just a few days prior. Armstrong, a Purdue University graduate, commanded the mission and was the first man to set foot on the moon – but there are more Hoosier ties to the moon landing than Armstrong’s education. Learn about... Read More
Posted by Renee Bruck at Friday, July 19, 2019

Indiana resident’s search for winning soapbox derby car ends at the Indiana State Museum

By Renee Bruck Jay Meyer had been searching for his winning entry into the 1971 All-American Soap Box Derby for decades, but he never really thought he’d see it again – let alone find it on display at the Indiana State Museum. Meyer’s search finally came to an end last week during a visit to the museum where he finally saw his winning soapbox derby car again after about 40 years.  Meyer – a Dearborn County resident – gave the car a close inspection... Read More
Posted by Renee Bruck at Thursday, July 18, 2019

Cardboard Engineering to ignite imagination at the Indiana State Museum

Remember those childhood days of creating a rocket ship, school bus, house or something else entirely with a large cardboard box, some tape and a whole lot of imagination? “Cardboard Engineering,” coming to the Indiana State Museum beginning Sept. 29, is bringing those days back in a BIG way! Bring your child – or just your own inner child – to experience this 3,000-square-foot playspace stocked with cardboard boxes of all sizes, cardboard pieces large and small, more... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Monday, August 13, 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

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

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

Science is for everyone at the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites

There are some people who hear the word “science” and their ears perk up and their minds whiz around with possibilities. And there are others who hear the word and immediately run to the exit for fear they’ll be bombarded with Latin names and complex formulas. We know science can be both intimidating and fascinating. That’s why in April, the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites offers an array of exciting programs that present science topics in fun and intriguing... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Monday, April 2, 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

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

‘Lois Main Templeton: A Reinvented Life’ to explore the life of a well-known Hoosier artist

By Kelsey Cook Image Courtesy of Tom Casalini of Casalini Portraits Lois Main Templeton was 51 years old when she dove head first into the art world and left her mark on the Hoosier art scene. “I was in my 50s and 60s, and by that time, you’re not going to learn an instrument,” Lois said in a documentary for WFYI. “And I’m a klutz so I wasn’t going to dance. So what have you got? You’ve got paint. And it was just for me.” Now... Read More
Posted by Kelsey Kotnik at Thursday, March 8, 2018

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

  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 discovered an American mastodon, who guests... 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

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