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“A museum for adults”

Indiana Historical Society
Ranked #25 of 181 things to do in Indianapolis
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Since 1830, the Indiana Historical Society has been Indiana’s Storyteller™, connecting people to the past by collecting, preserving, interpreting and sharing the state's history. A private, nonprofit membership organization, IHS maintains the nation's premier research library and archives on the history of Indiana and the Old Northwest and presents a unique set of visitor exhibitions called the Indiana Experience. IHS also provides support and assistance to local museums and historical groups, publishes books and periodicals; sponsors teacher workshops; and provides youth, adult and family programming.
Reviewed 29 July 2013

The Historicial Society building is located next to the Indiana Government Plaza, Statehouse, and the Canal Walk. It is a beautiful, large, airy, relatively new structure filled with timeless exhibits about Indiana's history. A film runs continuously highlighting many different topics. At other individual video stations guests can zoom in on individual counties to see photographs telling the county's history. Current exhibits include the Indianapolis 1913 flood, 1955 polio epidemic and the Lily Company role in vaccine, and a black doctor in Indianapolis in the mid 1930's who pioneered the use of EKG machines and worked in City Hospital. These exhibits are first explained with artifacts and signage, then visitors move through a 'cloud' into a first person interpretation/you are there experience. Interpreters are quite good and welcome interaction. Museum staff are present and helpful, but not intrusive.

This is not a kids' museum! Although kids could enjoy and learn much with an adult with them. I don't think we saw any children the day we were there. The Indianapolis Children's Museum is the top kids' choice. IHS is geared for more thoughtful, contemplative visitors and researchers. It's not stuffy, just a more grown up musuem.

Admission is a bargain at $7 and there's a lovely gift shop area, and eatery. Parking is free on site. The Canal Walk that meanders through much of downtown, stretching from north of the Society all the way to the Zoo, is attractive, busy, safe, picturesque, and fun.

Thank gsreed1445
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"cole porter"
in 40 reviews
"interactive exhibits"
in 12 reviews
"research library"
in 5 reviews
"live action"
in 4 reviews
"christmas tree exhibit"
in 3 reviews
"trees decorated"
in 3 reviews
"live singer"
in 3 reviews
"actors playing"
in 3 reviews
"camp atterbury"
in 3 reviews
"canal level"
in 4 reviews
"player piano"
in 2 reviews
"experience history"
in 2 reviews
"terrace cafe"
in 2 reviews
"visit museums"
in 2 reviews
"summer concert series"
in 2 reviews
"gift shop"
in 10 reviews
"early days"
in 3 reviews
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121 - 125 of 152 reviews

Reviewed 29 July 2013

I'm not sure what else to add that others did not already do so. I purchased a Groupon for this and they were not charging for parking that day so it was really a budget visit. The kids (ages 13 and 16) were complaining before we entered the door about how they didn't want to go to another museum. They bypassed the short movie vignettes and occupied themselves with the interactive screens, esp the WWI and WWII information. In the Cole Porter room, the singer was warm and welcoming.

Then we went on to the "You are There" Exhibits at which point they really perked up.
1. Flood of 1913 - My son greatly enjoyed the current newscast as if it were actually happening. The actors (volunteer, shopkeeper, victim) were all great and lively.
2. Polio vaccine factory - The factory supervisor was quite gruff and somewhat discouraged me from asking questions. Everyone else thought it was a perfect depiction of the attitutudes of the time and that he was not rude but I felt discouraged from asking questions.
3. Cardiologist - This was the best room! The cardiologist and a nurse were extremely warm and offered additional information above what we were asking.

So overall the kids walked out of there energized and interested and both highly recommend it!

Thank Busy_in_Indiana
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 June 2013

I had the opportunity to visit the Indiana Historical Society which includes interactive exhibits. They were absolutely fantastic! Three exhibits included interaction with actor who are portraying people and situations in Indiana's history. Visitors are able to talk to these actors about a particular day in Indiana's history. It was a terrific experience!

1  Thank Rose R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 May 2013

I had the honor of sitting on the Community Advisory board for "You Are There 1939: Healing Bodies, Changing Minds" exhibit, as a student, thanks to a recommendation from my professor. Being part of the board was not only eye-opening, the exhibit itself is awesome! This specific experience focuses on Dr. Harvey Middleton, who was an African-American cardiologist here in Indianapolis. To my surprise, my great-aunt was one of his patients! So I also had the fortune of sitting in on her interview with IHS staff, Eloise and Dan :)

The previous year, I went to other "Your Are There" exhibits as part of an assignment.
It is a one-of-a-kind exhibit that takes you, literally, through a photograph, and creates an interactive experience. You can observe or immerse yourself into this snapshot of time, conversing with the persons in the photo.

"You Are There" is something you do not want to miss, as it is an ongoing aspect of the IHS, but be sure to go to "You Are There 1939: Healing Bodies, Changing Minds" FIRST ;)

Thank lionessktty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 20 May 2013

I've been here a few times and the You Are There exhibits change frequently enough that I've never seen the same one twice. It's a unique museum experience, interacting with the actors in a historical scene. I do not think my two-year old would find too much here interesting but older children definitely would. While the museum may seem small w/ only three of the You Are There exhibits, the Destination Indiana exhibit has thousands of photographs with narration that you can peruse. I definitely could have spent hours going through those. On my most recent visit there was a singer in the Cole Porter room who would take requests from a long list of his songs. It's a beautiful building and setting on the canal as well.

Thank Katie F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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