Recently, the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites announced a multi-phase plan to renovate and reimagine core exhibits and galleries at each of its 11 locations statewide, in addition to the flagship facility in downtown Indianapolis. To date, the museum has raised $15.7 million and is currently seeking $2.5 million to complete the projects and establish an endowment through its INVision campaign.
“Because of all the changes in technology, we are changing the way we tell Indiana’s stories,” Tom King, Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites president and CEO, said in a written statement. “We are boldly transforming our galleries to change how visitors experience Indiana’s history. We’re creating more immersive, interactive exhibitions, as well as creating spaces that can be changed on a regular basis so that visitors will have something new to enjoy each time they visit.”
The plan, which is already in its first phase, will consist of changes in infrastructure and technological advancements. A few of the highlights that have already debuted include renovations to the capitol building and square at the Corydon Capitol Site, and Selma’s Gardens at the T.C. Steele Site in Nashville, Indiana. In December, the museum will unveil a newly built interpretive center at the Levi Coffin House in Fountain City.
The Coffin House was known to many as one of the most important stations on the Underground Railroad. It is reported that throughout its operation, more than 2,000 runaway slaves were housed there. Recently, the Smithsonian Magazine named it one of the top 12 new museums to visit in 2016. The addition of the interpretive center, a 5,156-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, will make it one of the nation’s most authentic places of its kind. The center, which will be located next door to the Coffin home, is slated to open in early December.
Other exciting rollouts include updates to the exhibits at Angel Mounds and restoration of the east wing at Lanier Mansion. Both are slated to be completed in winter of 2017.
The remaining facets of the plan, broken into five phases, will feature renovations to each of the Indiana State Museum’s core science, culture and history galleries. Phase One covers Natural Regions, Contested Territory and 19th State; Phase Two: Ice Age, Native American and Naturalist Lab; Phase Three: Hoosier Way/Civil War, Crossroads, WWI/Bridge to Modern Era and Ancient Seas/Limestone Quarry; Phase Four: What Shapes Us and Phase Five: WWII, Global Indiana, American Originals and Applied Sciences/Innovations.
The entire process is planned to be complete in time for the museum’s 150th anniversary in 2019.
Susannah Koerber, senior vice president of collections and interpretation, said she believes the changes will very impactful.
“We want visitors to feel a sense of wonder and to feel really engaged with Indiana’s history. We also want them to feel more actively involved, so there is more interactive content, and the content is more story-based than in the old design. We’re hoping that people will see themselves in it more.”
This weekend, visitors to the Indiana State Museum will have an opportunity to experience the state’s history in an entirely new way as Natural Regions, a lifelike re-creation of three major southwest regions of the state as they looked in the 1800s; Contested Territory, which explores the state’s frontier period and trade between Native Americans and Europeans, and 19th State, a glance at Indiana’s journey to statehood, open to the public.
For more information, visit indianastatemuseum.org.
State Historic Sites
8215 Pollack Ave., Evansville, IN 47715
202 E. Walnut St., Corydon, IN 47112
914 E. Main St., New Albany, IN 47150
1205 Pleasant Point, Rome City, IN 46784
410 N. Arthur St., New Harmony, IN 47631
601 W. 1st St., Madison, IN 47250
Levi Coffin House
113 U.S. 27, Fountain City, IN 47341
202 E. 6th St., Geneva, IN 46740
4220 T.C. Steele Road, Nashville, IN 47448
1 W. Harrison St., Vincennes, IN 47591
19083 Clayborn St., Metamora, IN 47030