Indiana Experience Opens at Indiana History Center This Weekend

The Indiana Historical Society presents a whole new way to understand our collective Hoosier history. The Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, in Indianapolis downtown, makes history live with oodles of interactive activities for the whole family. This Indianapolis attraction along the Indianapolis Canal Walk gives Hoosiers a chance to be proud of their history.

The Indiana Experience transports patrons to various times in Indianapolis history. Their mantra: “History should not be viewed, it should be experienced.” That is exactly what this new exhibit provides to Indianapolis people eager to engage with history. With nearly a dozen faucets to the exhibit, the Indiana Experience offers a rounded understanding of an Indiana history, of which everyone can be proud.

“You Are There” allows visitors to step into a three-dimensional recreation of three historic photographs. As guests take their place in the show, actor interpreters play the people in the picture. Become part of their story as you see, hear and touch your surroundings. “Hoosier Home Front” transports guest to a 1945 grocery store, where they can learn about ration stamps and what it was like to shop in that era. “Tool Guys and Tin Lizzies” takes guests back to 1924, where the Model T reigned supreme. And finally, “The Violin Maker Upstairs” takes guests to 1914 and places music in the air.

Proceed to “Destination Indiana,” where innovative technology immerses patrons in a display of historic images. This portion of the exhibit puts guest in the driver’s seat with a self guided touch screen tour through Indiana’s history.  Discover all 92 counties in Indiana as they are opened up through the African American experience, the Civil War, the Ohio River, social justice reform, rail transportation and, of course, agriculture. This creative exhibit contains eight “drive yourself” stations that seat six guests each. Discover your destination at “Destination Indiana.”

The luxurious “Cole Porter Room” celebrates the legacy of one of the most famous Hoosiers of all time. In a replica of New York’s famed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, enjoy the music of Cole Porter in a 1940s inspired cabaret setting. Marvel at the music from a digital grand player piano as you peruse Porter’s life through a photographic montage. Plus, an elegantly dressed actor interpreter brings the Cole Porters songs to full life in a live performance. Born in Peru, Indiana, this composer and songwriter reached fame on the radio and on Broadway, and is one of Indiana’s most treasured sons.

Head to the “Fortune History Lab” to learn how this exhibit came together. Trained facilitators demonstrate the process of restoring and preserving original documents and photographs, so that exhibits like this one are increasingly possible. Try the technique for yourself as you mend fragile paper: actual envelopes from the Indiana Historical Society’s collection.

Everything comes to a head in the Indiana History Center’s grand Lilly Hall, where four faucets of this exhibit collide. The focal point of these section of the exhibit is a suspended sculpture called “It’s About Time.” Composed of large replicas of pocket watches, this piece of Indianapolis art is a symbol of the Indiana Historical Society’s mission, “collecting, preserving, interpreting and sharing.” Art continues to fill up the mezzanine of Lilly Hall with iconic documents and images from the Indiana Historical Society’s collection in “History Snapshot.”

Return to the Indiana Experience as the seasons change to see “In Season,” a changing collage to topics related to the current season. In “Peopling Indiana” the migrant and immigrant experience, past and present, in Indiana is dissected. Finally, “What is a Hoosier?” attempts to trace the origin of Indiana people’s nickname and shares fact and folklore that surround it.

Also in the Lilly Hall are a collection of “INvestigation Stations.” These hands on stations delves into the various ways history is decoded through primary sources, photographs and more. Before you leave the elegant Lilly Hall, check out “Indiana Legends” to learn about the lives of landmark Hoosiers and their contributions to our rich heritage.

As an ongoing addendum to this informative and education experience, the Indiana Historical Society plans to host a series of Town Hall meetings, starting in the fall of 2010. Indianapolis community leaders will come together for a discussion on our perspectives of the past, present and future. These timely discussions will help to open our current understanding of the state we call home. To the Indiana Historical Society, “history is more than trivia and has the power to foster understanding of the world we live in.”

Don’t miss the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center downtown. The grand opening happens Saturday, March 20 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Special activities and music will greet the first guests of this new Indianapolis museum exhibit.

Spend some time soaking up the Indiana Experience, then enjoy the sights and sounds of the Circle City. Enjoy a meal at any of these great Indianapolis restaurants or drinks at these refreshing Indianapolis bars. Take a stroll around Indianapolis downtown, to enjoy attractions like the Indiana State Capitol Building or Monument Circle’s Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. You new found knowledge about Indiana heritage will no doubt shed new light on these commonly seen Indianapolis attractions.

As always, stay tuned to Indianapolis News, Events and Information on Fun City for all the latest on fun things to do in Indianapolis. We cover Indianapolis art to Indianapolis sports and everything in between. Get out in Indy and find some fun!

Indiana Experience
Opens Saturday, March 20

Indiana History Center
450 West Ohio Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202