Released August 17, 2021


INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites has been awarded a $190,390 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in support of its exhibit on championship bicyclist Marshall “Major” Taylor scheduled to open in March.

The grant will be used for the development of the exhibit, including materials, supplies, equipment (media, production and design), travel and artist commissions.

“Major Taylor’s life story serves as an invitation to lean into the issues of race and social justice, bike equity, and human perseverance,” said Cathy Ferree, president and CEO of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites. “We will employ the organization’s success with visitor-centric, interactive experiences to tell his story and address the need to raise awareness about these topics, which were central to his life 100 years ago and remain relevant today. We’re grateful to IMLS for their support.”

Taylor (1878-1932) was a legendary cyclist who grew up in Indianapolis. His perseverance in overcoming racial barriers, his athleticism, and his devotion to his family and to the sport create an inspiring and remarkable story that the museum will tell in a 7,000-square-foot interactive experience.

Visitors will be able to:

-Experience race day alongside Major Taylor. In a large, open space, children will be able to assemble bicycles to test their engineering skills, while others mount stationary bikes to race against each other and learn racing strategy.

-Hear an audio narration by local spoken-word poet Januarie York, which will play as visitors experience a projection-mapped environment set to the cadence of a racing cyclist.

-Visit the training room to see how Major Taylor prepped for an important race. In the immersive environment of a 1900s-era training room, they will be able to peruse personal items like his original scrapbooks with press clippings and photos. Some of the articles were written by reporters who used racially charged language to describe the athlete. Taylor’s competitors frequently and openly threatened him if he won. An audio track will play their voices alongside photos.

-Explore the STEM side of cycling in the Bicycle Shop. An “exploded” bike will help visitors understand the function of each part and how it affects the overall design. Visitors will be able to experiment with a digital design interactive set up to mix and match components for the “ideal” bike. Also, a video of a bike mechanic will guide them through the process and demonstrate how to use the right tools when a mechanic can’t be there in person.

Also, the museum will integrate its robust collection of more than 400 Major Taylor artifacts into the exhibit. These items were donated by his only child, Rita Sydney Taylor Brown, and include Major Taylor’s letters, photographs and trophies, as well as items that later honored his life and his legacy, such as one of his bikes that the museum will borrow from the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame.

The grant was one of 200 given to museums across the country to help them foster community engagement, provide lifelong learning and care for their collections. In all, IMLS distributed more than $29.5 million.

About IMLS

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.