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The Indiana State Museum tells the story of Indiana’s history.
Ready to brush up on your Hoosier history? The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites is an interactive, hands-on experience that gets your kids excited to learn. From ancient oceans to pioneer cabins, each exhibit paints a picture of the past with engaging activities for all ages.
At White River State Park, the Indiana State Museum walks you through Indiana history—from Earth’s beginning to our modern-day innovations. The museum has a vast collection of over 500,000 objects and artifacts like mastodon fossils and Native American art. So, you can explore three floors of one-of-a-kind galleries that teach your kids about geology, paleontology, and natural history.
And once you’re back from the past, you can learn about today’s history-in-the-making with the museum’s rotating exhibits. Unlike some history museums, the Indiana State Museum shows how our past impacts the present. The museum has recently featured exhibits on feminist art activism, Indiana’s local biodiversity, and overcoming the opioid crisis.
“Museums are a place to have big conversations about ways we can all influence the present and future. Museums should broaden perspectives through real stories and artifacts, and they should also address the topics of today that are relevant to visitors.”
Explore historic sites throughout the state.
The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites (ISMHS) is more than just your everyday history museum. It’s a statewide network of cultural sites and historic buildings that preserve remarkable glimpses into our nation’s past. In addition to its main museum, the ISMHS features 11 culturally significant locations throughout the state for you to explore.
From Rome City to Evansville, you can visit the old homes of famous Hoosiers and explore lasting landmarks of history. Down in Vincennes, you’ll find Indiana’s oldest city, which was first founded in 1732. At the Levi & Catherine Coffin House, you can tour the “Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad,” where they helped over 1,000 people stay safe and free.
And on the Ohio River, Angel Mounds is one of the best-preserved pre-contact Native American sites in North America. The site stretches over 600 acres, featuring earthen mounds built by the Mississippian people nearly 1,000 years ago. There, you can learn about the site’s history or take a hike through the nature preserve’s trails.
Your membership gives you full access to both the downtown museum and all eleven of these sites across the state. So, pack up for a road trip and get ready to explore!
Learn about the science behind the history.
From researching artifacts to digging up fossils, it takes a lot of science to study history. And that’s especially true with natural history, which focuses on the flora and fauna of our planet’s environment. The Indiana State Museum’s team of scientists are all experts in geology, paleobiology, archeology, and much more. So, there’s no better place to satisfy your curiosity!
At the R.B. Annis Naturalist’s Lab, you can learn from real scientists and discover how they study the world around us. They let your kids use technology just like a naturalist would and try their hands at real science experiments. Be sure to check out their collection of taxidermy animals and ancient fossils while you’re there!
Out of all the sciences, Ice Age paleontology is one of the Indiana State Museum’s specialties. Currently, the museum has more mastodon and mammoth fossils from different locations than any other museum in the Midwest. One of their most iconic artifacts is Fred—a 13,000-year-old mastodon skeleton that lives in the museum!
The museum’s team also goes on archeological digs to the caves of southern Indiana. Down there, they hope to find more ancient Ice Age fossils to study. But you can see some of the fossils they’ve already uncovered in the museum today!
For kids, the museum also offers special classes for toddlers and young students to foster their creativity, learn about the environment, and have fun adventures. Families with little ones under the age of 6 can plan a visit to Firefly Landing—the museum’s early childhood space—for interactive story time and hands-on activities.
The Indiana State Museum brings your family closer to history.
Whether you’re an Indy local or a visitor from across the globe, everyone can travel back through time at the Indiana State Museum. Despite its name, the museum is about a lot more than local history. It’s a window into our planet’s past with exhibits that reveal the science behind our world’s history. From historic mansions to nature preserves, the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites connects you with a network of places to explore, learn, and discover what history means for you.