The Indiana Insider Blog

Hits just keep on comin’ at Indiana State Museum

Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to join a group of bloggers and journalists for a multi-day tour of White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis. One of our stops was the Indiana State Museum (ISM). In existence since 1862, the ISM opened its doors at its beautiful current location in May 2002.

Since then, the Museum has brought several interesting and worthwhile exhibitions to visitors from Indiana and beyond each year. Permanent exhibitions that tell part of Indiana’s story include:

  • Ancient Seas
  • Birth of the Earth
  • Crossroads of America
  • Enterprise Indiana
  • Global Indiana
  • The Age of Ice
  • The Hoosier Way
  • The Native Americans
  • The Nineteenth State

If you’ve been to the ISM before and think you’ve seen it all, don’t be so sure.  The museum’s collection of artifacts is so extensive that several items on display in these permanent exhibitions are rotated approximately four times each year. Add to that the fabulous traveling exhibitions and it’s a new experience every time you visit.

Marty Wyall, WASP, then and now. Photo courtesy of the Indiana State Museum.

One of the traveling exhibits currently on display is In Her Honor, which tells the story of Marty Wyall, the last of Indiana’s Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs).

Wyall and WASPs like her flew B-26s and B-29s to test the safety of the aircraft while their male counterparts went into combat. Never recognized for their military service at the time, the WASPs were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2009.

If you want to see this fascinating exhibit, hurry.  In Her Honor is open through August 8, 2011.

The line-up of exhibitions scheduled to open at ISM in the near future will have you wanting to mark your calendar now. A few highlights include:

Odd Indiana
September 4, 2010-February 12, 2012

This exhibition will feature objects from the museum’s own collection. You’ll find oddities, rarities or everyday objects with uncommon stories. Here’s a sneak peek at a few things we saw “backstage” on our tour:


A table made of thousands of intricate wood pieces, but not one nail or drop of glue, is readied for display.

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition
September 25, 2010 – January 16, 2011
This first-in-Indiana exhibition will showcase more than 240 artifacts from the famed ship’s debris field, giving visitors a better understanding of the vessel and its passengers. In addition, room recreations and personal accounts will help to tell the story of the grand ship and its infamous demise. Timed-tickets are required for this exhibit. Tickets for Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition are $10 per person for members and $17 per person for non-members.

Nikon Small World: Exploring the Beauty of Science
October 15, 2010 – January 9, 2011
This exhibit captures the amazing beauty found beneath the scientists’ microscopes. The world’s best photomicrographers have captured stunning images that showcase a wide variety of advanced scientific disciplines.

A tree that had fallen in one of the Indy Parks was hand-carved into a real, working canoe by one of ISM's carpenters. It will be part of the Odd Indiana exhibit.

And of course, there is the annual Celebration Crossing tradition to ring in the holidays. From Santa’s arrival by helicopter, to the LS. Ayres Santa Claus Express Train and more, the Indiana State Museum is a Christmas destination for kids of all ages. Celebration Crossing will be open this year from November 26 – December 31.

With such fabulous things to see and do at the ISM in the next few months, I’m planning to buy a family membership. At just $59, we only have to go twice to get our money’s worth. Click here to learn more about the costs and benefits of membership to the Indiana State Museum

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Written by : Amy moved to Indiana for college in 1988 (Go Bulldogs!) and has never left. Married with three children, she's always on the lookout for fun and affordable things to do in Indiana. Elsewhere on the web, you can find Amy at The Fourth Frog Blog and All Things Aging. Amy receives compensation from the Indiana Office of Tourism Development for blogging. For more information, see our FTC Disclosure page.