Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is day to reflect on, and celebrate, the birth of the most iconic and influential civil rights leader in American history. And for anyone in the Indy area, it is also a day to enjoy free admission to several area attractions, many of which can be found downtown.
Picture from the Library of Congress. Martin Luther King, Jr. photographed by Marion S. Trikosko, 1964. LC-DIG-ppmsc-01269
List of Free Things to Do on MLK Day
Here is an overview of some of the top attractions and things to do on MLK Day. And as always, metered parking is free on holidays in downtown Indy!
Indianapolis Museum of Art. From 11 am – 4 pm, there are several cool exhibits to see, including Impressed: Modern Japanese Prints, and An American Legacy: Norell, Blass, Halston and Sprouse. The latter is a unique fashion exhibit that features wearable works of art created by a group of Indiana designers. Fun art-making activities are available in the Star Studio and in the African Activity Space.
The Children’s Museum. From 10 am – 3 pm fun things to do include two exhibits, Under the Magnifying Glass and ScienceWorks. Kids will also enjoy ActivePlay which consists of fun outdoor activities.
White River State Park. From 9 am – 4 pm, admission to the following park attractions is free with the donation of one non-perishable food item per person, per attraction for Gleaner’s Food Bank.
- Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art (Open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
- Indianapolis Zoo (Open 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.)
- IMAX Theater premiere: Journey to the South Pacific 3D ((10:15 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:15 p.m., 4:45 p.m.,)
- Indiana State Museum (Open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
- NCAA Hall of Champions (Open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
- Victory Field: Free health screenings, including two FREE tickets to Opening Day at Victory Field April 4 for each person screened. Rowdie, the Indians’ mascot will sign autographs.
Rhythm! Discovery Center. From 10 am – 5 pm guests enjoy free access to this fun percussion museum, which features interactive percussion exhibits, as well as historic, cultural and aesthetic collections. The center is located at the corner of Illinois and Washington Streets in downtown Indianapolis.
Also taking place at the Rhythm! Discovery Center at 7 pm is a special MLK Day Presentation with Indianapolis Jazz Foundation.
Indiana Historical Society. From 10 am – 5 pm guest will enjoy the You Are There: Robert F. Kennedy Speaks, exhibit, an amazing collection of historic photographs brought to life with three-dimensionality through the clever use of actors and photos.
Indiana Black History Challenge. Also sponsored by the Indiana Historical Society, the Black History Challenge is a chance to prove what you know about black history. The first 5,000 entrants get two tickets to the Indiana Experience at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, and 30 randomly chosen players will each receive 4 tickets to see an Indianapolis Indians game. One lucky winner will receive a grand prize package consisting of an overnight stay at the Omni Severin Hotel in downtown Indianapolis, 4 tickets to The Children’s Museum and to the Indiana Historical Society for the whole household, including free admission to the Indiana Experience for a year.
Conner Prairie. Admission is free from 10 am – 5 pm at this fun, interactive history park, which will feature a variety of indoor and outdoor things to do and see, including checking out the Conner homestead, the Lenape Indian camp and Golden Eagle Inn. Indoors, there will be plenty of fun games and activities, in addition to a storytelling session about the life of Sojourner Truth, an African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist from the 1800s. Parking is free.
Madame Walker Theatre. The celebration begins at 10am with a free breakfast at the Urban League, followed by their annual Freedom Walk at 10:45 am. A film showing takes place at 11 am which is presented in conjunction with The College of Aspiring Artists, a nationwide career development center for new and aspiring artists. Additionally , local artists will sing, community leaders will speak, and dance ensembles will perform.
Martin Luther Celebration at the University of Indianapolis
Noon to 1:30 p.m., Ransburg Auditorium: Program includes music, history presentation and keynote remarks by local civic leader Rozelle Boyd
6 to 8 p.m., Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center: Program includes spoken-word performances and music from gospel star Marvin Sapp and UIndy’s Voices of Worship; limited seating, doors open at 5 p.m.
Dr. King Celebration at Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School
On Friday, Jan. 17 from 10 – 11 a.m., Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School will celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King with their 33rd Annual Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Monday, Jan. 20 from noon to 4 p.m., Crispus Attucks Museum visitors can experience the newly enhanced Civil Rights exhibit entitled “The Man and the Movement” and view a rarely-seen history documentary on the Legacy of Dr. King. Also enjoy a rare Dr. King international stamp collection now on display.
IUPUI’s “Day of Service” volunteer opportunity. From 9 am – 1 pm hundreds of students, faculty and guests will gather volunteer their services, to help out at various community centers across the city as a way of honoring Dr. King’s contributions to social civil rights in America. Anyone wishing to volunteer should meet at the IUPUI campus at 8 a.m.
Indy Reads Books. From 10 am – 5 pm adults and kids are invited to volunteer their time in support of adult literacy. Volunteers will help around the store, doing things like organize shelves, stamping books and sorting through donations.
The George F. Landegger Collection of Alabama Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
This is a great opportunity to make the upcoming holiday a memorable one. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a force for change in American who showed that just one person can make a difference for good when he (or she) has the courage to take action. These free events are not only a chance to have fun, but an opportunity to make a difference by getting involved with the community. But most of all, it is about remembering that we are all equally deserving of basic human rights. And that alone is reason enough to honor and celebrate MLK Day.