We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Wonderful place to spend an hour or two!”

Indiana Historical Society
Ranked #31 of 177 things to do in Indianapolis
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
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 16 November 2013

First of all, I must admit that I love downtown Indianapolis...especially the sights around the canal. My daughters and I were at the Lucas Oil stadium for the BOA competitions and had some time to kill so we walked from there to the Historical museum, as I had not been to that one before. It was a brisk day so it took us about 10-15 minutes to get there. I had read about it online and was looking forward to the Cole Porter exhibit. I was not disappointed!!! The gentleman singing songs by request had a wonderful voice and sang about 6-7 songs for us until my daughters drag me away to see more. I could have stayed listening to him all afternoon. I was quite impressed with the Time Travel display featuring a photography studio of 1904 and the 1913 flood. Being from Dayton, Ohio which also was affected by that flood, it was quite interesting to walk into a flood relief center and listen to first hand stories so well conveyed by the actors. The photography studio was also interesting and it was a treat to have our picture taken the old fashioned way. The bonus was that we could go to the site online and view our picture that was taken. Did not have time to see any other areas, but plan on returning. The gift shop had interesting items, including a wonderful buy of a 3 set CD of Cole Porter music and a book filled with interesting facts about him and other performers featured on the CD. Beautiful surroundings compliment the experience. The $7.00 admission was well worth the fee.

Thank grainbowjudy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a ReviewReviews (140)
Traveller rating
Traveller type
Time of year

105 - 109 of 140 reviews

Reviewed 14 October 2013

We went to this museum on free museum day through Smithsonian. Expected more exhibits , not organized to have a flow to visit. Not sure how it stays open, not enough to interest to come back. Had a section where you could work with paper, not sure how that was historical. Need to change exhibits to have more traffic. What they had could be in the Indiana State Museum in a couple of rooms. Glad I was not paying to come.

1  Thank tigger4587
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 September 2013

We visited this museum as part of the Hoosier Salon exhibition for Hoosier artists. As others have already mentioned, the Cole Porter room is a delightful surprise and the singers are very talented and knowledgeable about his life. The room is set up as a lounge would have been during Porter's life, including a song menu of tunes he composed on the bar and at the tables. A modern player grand piano accompanies the singer. The three "You Are There" rooms depict a scene from a photograph that is from somewhere/sometime in Indiana that has been thoroughly researched and recreated to allow you to step back in time and interact with history. Background information is provided prior to your entry, and the museum guides give suggestions on what sort of questions would be good to ask of the reenactors to get even more detailed information about the behind the scene details. A detailed history of Indiana is on the second floor, along with specific histories of a few major cities in the state such as Lafayette and Fort Wayne. There is a research library also. A $7 min. purchase in the gift shop will get you free parking. Although it wasn't a planned, deliberate trip to visit this museum, I'm glad we had the opportunity and took advantage of it and it was enjoyed by all in my family.

1  Thank Pam J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 July 2013

While on a weekend trip to Indianapolis, we wandered into this museum. We weren't sure what to expect, but it exceeded our expectations.

Our first surprise was walking past the Cole Porter Room. Set up like a 1920s pub, visitors may overlook it, thinking it is a museum cafe. But it's a tribute to Porter, a Peru, Indiana, native, with artifacts from his life. The room is staffed by LIVE Cole Porter singers who will program the piano to accompany them while they sing the Cole Porter song of your choice. Amazing!

Of particular interest are the "You are there" rooms -- at the time we visited, these included living history rooms in which you "walked into" photographs of a relief station from the White River Flood of 1913, a 1950s Eli Lilly packing facility for polio vaccines, and a 1930s office of the city's first African American cardiologist.

What makes this unique is each room is based on a real photograph from the time. Visitors acquaint themselves with the subject in content rooms, study the photograph, and then walk through vapor mist into a room that is set up to look like the photograph, complete with actors who portray the real people of that time.

Well worth the time!

Thank Julie Ann M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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

Travellers who viewed Indiana Historical Society also viewed


Been to Indiana Historical Society? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing