Indiana State Museum

The Indiana State Museum is located within the White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. The museum features exhibits on the science, art, culture, and history of Indiana from prehistory to the present. It’s also home to the state’s largest IMAX screen.

The original collection was assembled in 1862, while the Civil War was raging. State Librarian R. Deloss Brown had a cabinet and collected minerals and other things that piqued his interest. In 1860, the Indiana General Assembly enacted a law “for the collection and preservation of a Geological and Mineralogical Cabinet of the Natural History of this State.” The first employee of what would become the museum was a state geologist, who was told to label and organize the collection.

The museum was briefly displayed on the third floor of the State Capitol building, moving from one room to another before it was sent to languish in the building’s basement for almost 45 years.

History of the Museum

In 1962, Governor Matthew E. Welsh approved the resumption of planning for a new museum. In 1967, the Indiana State Museum opened its door in the old city Hall building. Now that building has four stories and a basement in which to develop exhibits and to store and preserve the collection.

Then, in 1984, the museum board voted to move to White River State Park. In the late 1990s, funds were appropriated. The groundbreaking was done in August 1999. On May 22, 2002, the museum officially opened at its new home on 650 West Washington Street.

The museum has over 40,000 square feet of exhibit space covering the state of Indiana in more than 500,000 objects under six focus areas referred to as “Centers of Excellence”. Those are Ice Age paleontology; Abraham Lincoln; Indiana art and artists; quilts and textiles; Indiana industry, technology, and agriculture; and Indiana archaeology.

The 92 County Walk is incorporated into the building’s facade. Therefore, representing Indiana’s 92 counties with 92 original sculptures, one for each county.

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