Indiana History Center is the central collection and dissemination point of stories, exhibits, educational programs, performances and special events around the rich history of the state of Indiana. Located just a half-mile from downtown Indianapolis, the lovely ornate building is home to bustling activity all year round and creates of Indianapolis history a living, breathing thing.
The group behind the Indiana History Center is the Indiana Historical Society, or the IHS. This organization, extant since 1830, lays proud claim to being “Indiana’s Storyteller.” They provide the resources, programs and activities that connect the present to the past and the people to the culture of Indianapolis.
Listed below are just some of the services the Historical Society offers to the Indianapolis public.
The Collections and the Library
The IHC archives include over 1-1/2 million photographs, 45,000 books and pamphlets, 5,000 manuscript collections, 1,100 maps, 14,000 pieces of sheet music, 60 paintings and 3,300 artifacts. This is one of the most important resources in the world of material on the Old Northwest in general and the history of Indiana in particular.
You Are There: 1945 Hoosier Home Front
These unique exhibits offer visitors a free trip to an authentic 1945 grocery store, a mechanic’s shop where the owner’s daughter can tell you all the latest features of the brand new Model-T and a violin maker’s shop where they can interact with the costumed employees and learn up close about the typical way of life during the first half of the 20th century here in Indiana. The “You Are There” exhibits are precise down to the ration books you are given in the grocers, to the business card of the immigrant violin maker who will let you test out one of the wooden pieces of art. The experience is one the whole family can enjoy, especially the younger members of your group. The real life role play performed by the on-site actors will lead them to believe the whole family has gone back in time where everyone knew each other and said hello in the streets.
The Faces of Lincoln
These striking exhibit is one of the many rotating exhibits in the Indiana History Center. It features the Indiana Historical Society’s large collection of items that reference the famous and beloved President, Abraham Lincoln. There are numerous portraits in the collection, including the image used on the copper penny, and for the five-dollar bill. Located in the Lanham Gallery on the fourth floor of the Indiana History Center. Free of charge.
In this fascinating section of the Indiana History Center, visitors can put on a lab coat for a hands-on interactive experience in what might be called the forensics of history. “Investigation Stations” allow guests to search through historic documents and records, with the help of in-house facilitators. Free of charge.
Visitors may learn all about state-of-the-art methods to preserve historic relics’ authenticity and quality. Run by the Historic Document Preservation program, this sector of the IHC also offers workshops inside and outside the IHC facility on preservation procedures, consultations about family heirlooms, assessments and advice to groups and individuals in the public at large. Free of charge.
The Frank and Katrina Basile Theater
The Basile Theater inside the Indiana History Center’s facility, is a charming space with auditorium seating for 300. This theater is the site for performances by the following respected organizations: Asante Children’s Theatre, Classic Ragtime Society, the Ensemble Music Society, the Festival Music Society, the Heartland Film Festival, the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, the Ronen Chamber Ensemble, and Storytelling Arts of Indiana.
Events Space Rentals
The elegant and classic décor of the Indiana Historical Society building’s various halls for rent, combined with its lovely location on the central Canal and White River State Park make this center a popular one for special events from corporate meetings to cultural performances to weddings and receptions.
The Basile History Market Gift Store
Find uniquely attractive and memorable gifts at the Indiana History Center’s gift store. Historically authentic books, music, jewelry, clothing, art and much, much more are collected for visitors’ Indianapolis shopping delight.
Stardust Terrace Café
The Indiana History Center contains two main galleries called the Rapp Family Gallery and the Lacy Gallery. Each offer fascinating exhibits that change from time to time. Free of charge.
Some of the events of interest to Indianapolis kids and adults alike are: the Indiana History Train, various films on historic subjects, educational seminars, conservation clinics and the Storytelling Arts Festival.
Indiana History Center
450 W Ohio St
Indianapolis, IN 46202
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m