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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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 it.
For the child who loves wide open space: Angel Mounds State Historic Site
Angel Mounds includes 600 acres of beautiful land once home to a thriving community of Native Americans known as the Mississippians on the banks of the Ohio River.
A lifelike exhibit transports you back thousands of years to see what these Mississippians’ homes looked like and how they lived. Step outside to explore the land where it all took place, have footraces, and maybe even burn off enough energy to sleep on the car ride home!
For the child who is the future Indiana Governor: Corydon Capitol State Historic Site
Corydon Capitol State Historic Site commemorates Indiana’s first state capital and follows the development of Indiana from a territory to a state.
Kids will love exploring the real buildings where early Indiana history was made, including the capitol building, the home of Indiana’s second governor, the law office where dozens of future Indiana lawmakers studied, and the first state office building. They’ll enjoy walking from building to building on the beautiful small-town sidewalks.
For the child who is a future interior decorator: Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site
William Culbertson moved to Indiana seeking a new life and eventually became one of the richest men in the state, as well as a renowned philanthropist. His mansion stands as an example of the tastes, ideals and lifestyles of people during the late 1800s.
Explore each room of this majestic home, filled with furniture and artifacts Culbertson and his family may have used. Find out what life was like for upper class children in the 1800s.
For the child who loves nature more than video games: Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site
Author, photographer, naturalist and entrepreneur - Gene Stratton-Porter was a woman ahead of her time. Her cabin at Wildflower Woods is nestled on the shores of Sylvan Lake among 148 acres of fields, woods and beautiful formal gardens.
Children will be fascinated with moths, wildflowers, woodpeckers, carnivorous plants, and other unique nature found at the site. Sit along the lake or in the gardens and enjoy the day.
For the child who is a future architect: Lanier Mansion State Historic Site
Lanier Mansion State Historic Site and the Madison community present the perfect opportunity to encounter, explore and experience history as it was in the 1840s – when America was still young and the Ohio River was the gateway to the West.
Lanier is situated in Madison, Ind., the largest contiguous national historic district in the U.S., known for the variety of architectural offerings. Walk down the streets of Madison pointing out how each house or building looks different, then head to tour the inside and grounds of the Lanier Mansion. The spiral staircase is a fun change from the staircases that may be in families’ own homes, and the back gardens by the Ohio River are open for kids to run wild and free.
For the child who wants to change the world: Levi & Catharine Coffin State Historic Site
As conductors for the Underground Railroad, Levi and Catharine Coffin helped more than 1,000 freedom seekers to safety while living in Newport (now Fountain City), Ind.
Kids will be entranced by the tour guides at the Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site, who bring to life the story of fugitive slaves seeking shelter at the house. They will walk from room to room hearing the stories of freedom seekers who stood in that very room, and can even crawl into the garret where many freedom seekers may have hidden.
For the child who likes to get her hands dirty: Limberlost State Historic Site
The Limberlost swamp was the perfect laboratory for author Gene Stratton-Porter to study nature. At a time when most women were homemakers, Porter created a lasting legacy of northern Indiana’s vanishing natural history through her writings and photos.
Bring your little naturalist to a place where mud and loud voices are preferred. Tour Gene Stratton-Porter’s house, including a conservatory and part of her moth collection, then head to the Limberlost marsh to walk across the boardwalk while spotting various creatures.
For the child who is curious about other people and cultures: New Harmony State Historic Site
The town was founded by the Harmony Society in 1814. The Harmonists were religious Separatists from Germany who pursued Christian perfection through every aspect of their daily conduct. They sold New Harmony to Robert Owen in 1825, and he, along with his business partner William Maclure, hoped to establish a model community where education and social equality would flourish.
Take your kids on a tour through the harmonist town and hear their intrigue as they ask questions like, “Why did they live that way?” and “Where are all of the people now?”
For the child who is a future artist: T.C. Steele State Historic Site
Experience the rolling hills, scenic vistas, majestic trees and landscape that inspired noted Hoosier painter T.C. Steele and his wife Selma to build their home and cultivate beauty and art in Brown County.
Walk through the same gardens Steele did, then head into his studio and compare the sceneries in the art on the walls with the real landscape outside. Can your child point out the same flowers?
For the child who is always playing with toy soldiers: Vincennes State Historic Site
This is where Indiana had its beginnings: Where Chief Tecumseh walked, where the first governor of the Indiana Territory and ninth president of the United States lived and worked, and where troops mustered for the Battle of Tippecanoe.
Kids will enjoy playing in the knee-high stone walls representing the troops’ fort and hearing stories of battle in the early 1800s.
For the child who loves boats: Whitewater Canal State Historic Site
Discover how this 1840s feat of engineering changed Indiana from a pioneer outpost to the “Crossroads of America."
Check out the old grist mill, an early method of grain manufacturing, then take a walk down the canal to enjoy a ride on the Ben Franklin III, an old canal boat pulled by two Belgian draft horses. During the boat ride, you’ll pass through the Duck Creek Aqueduct, a covered bridge that carries the canal 16 feet over Duck Creek. It is believed to be the only structure of its kind in the nation! After you’re done, grab a hot fudge sundae at one of the local Metamora, Ind. shops.
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