April 20, 2010
Experience Indiana Like Never Before

For nearly 200 years, the Indiana Historical Society has helped tell Indiana’s story by connecting Hoosiers to their past and by sharing the state’s history. But a few years ago, the IHS decided to re-write the history books.

Closing its exhibits for more than a year, the IHS headquarters (Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, 450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis) transformed the visitor experience and re-opened in March.

A more spacious lobby, an updated café scape and the brand new Indiana Experience highlight the physical changes. But IHS launched a new digital presence as well, with a re-vamped Web site complete with employee- and guest-authored blogs. With topics such as “How will your diary help historians,” the entries cover everything from family history to conservation to public programs.

“It’s all an effort to connect the people of Indiana with their rich, Hoosier heritage in new, exciting and meaningful ways,” said John Herbst, president and CEO of the Indiana Historical Society.

Hoosier History Live!

With the launch of Indiana Experience, IHS has created a way for visitors to intimately experience Indiana’s history—by walking through photographs, interacting with trained interpreters, and restoring historical artifacts.

“The addition of engaging, interactive opportunities allows us to give visitors a uniquely Indiana experience they can’t find anywhere else,” said Herbst.

Here’s a look at the new IHS visitor experience:

Destination Indiana:  Using many photos from the IHS’s extensive 1.6 million photograph collection, visitors can travel through time, as audiovisual presentations and touch screens allow you to explore the history of any one of Indiana’s 92 counties, or Indiana’s Stories such as African-American Hoosiers, the Civil War, and agriculture.

You Are There: Taking the meaning of “making history come alive” to a new level, visitors can literally walk through a photograph (projected onto a fine vapor mist) and enter a 1945-era grocery store, a 1924 auto repair shop or a 1914 violin maker’s workshop. A facilitator provides background information, and once inside the photograph, visitors are met with costumed characters from the image that has come to life.

Fortune History Lab: Interested in historical conservation? Visit this historical science lab that uses hands-on techniques to teach the basics of conservation. And, be sure to check out the “Ask a Conservator” touch screen about proper preservation techniques and storage materials to use at home.

INvestigation Stations: Here, you can dissect images for clues, learn about the primary sources found in the vast IHS library and explore your own personal history using genealogical resources on site.

Cole Porter Room: This contemporary space includes a performer/facilitator and houses original Cole Porter materials. You can even have a seat at one of the tables and request a song from the menu to be performed for you live.

Other periodic elements of the Indiana Experience include:

  • Public forums and discussions with expert panelists through the Indiana Town Hall Series, an ongoing series that will explore contemporary, yet enduring topics. The 2010 topic is Environmental Issues, and the event dates are Oct. 21, Nov. 18 and Dec. 16.
  • Anything Goes, a periodic, seasonal event that uses cabaret-style shows in a 1940s era nightclub setting designed to highlight the work of Indiana and American musical greats Cole Porter and Hoagy Carmichael. Upcoming dates for Anything Goes include Oct. 14 and 15, Nov. 11 and 12, Feb. 10 and 11 (2011), and March 17 and 18 (2011).

Haven’t been to IHS’s new digs yet? Want to go again? Visit Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (except on various holidays). IHS members and children under 5 receive free admission. Regular admission is $7 for adults, $6.50 for seniors (60 and older) and $5 for kids 5-17.

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