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“The actors are great!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Indiana Historical Society

Indiana Historical Society
450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202 (Downtown Indianapolis)
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Ranked #29 of 90 Attractions in Indianapolis
Type: History Museums, Cultural
Activities: Leisure education
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Attraction details
Owner description: Since 1830, the Indiana Historical Society has been Indiana’s Storyteller™, connecting people to the past by collecting, preserving, interpreting and sharing the state's history. A private, nonprofit membership organization, IHS maintains the nation's premier research library and archives on the history of Indiana and the Old Northwest and presents a unique set of visitor exhibitions called the Indiana Experience. IHS also provides support and assistance to local museums and historical groups, publishes books and periodicals; sponsors teacher workshops; and provides youth, adult and family programming.
New Palestine
Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
15 attraction reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“The actors are great!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 4, 2013

Spending the day at an Indiana history museum is not something that would usually appeal to me, however, this museum is set up very differently than most. They have some permanent exhibits with computer interactions that give you history on some interesting topics in Indiana's history. They also have rotating exhibits, where you go "back in time" with live actors representing people from that time period! The actors are incredible! They are so knowledgeable, and never break from their "role"! The "Christian Temperance" woman in the prohibition exhibit was a hoot! I only wish they had more of these live action exhibits (there were three when we went over Christmas break), and that they could change them more often. There is a restaurant in the bottom floor, which has food for a meal or for snacks, and in the warmer weather you can sit out by the canal with your food or drinks and enjoy the view. They do have some free admission days (and I could have sworn their website said the day we went was free admission, but it turned out not to be), but otherwise there is a cost for admission and if you think you might go more than twice a year, a membership is very reasonably priced and would be a worthwhile option. One important note, there is a parking lot for the museum off of New York street where you get a "ticket" when you park, if you ask at the front desk they will validate your parking and it will be free (but we had to ask, they did not offer). I think this exhibit would appeal to school age children and above in particular, however, we saw several preschoolers there who really seemed to enjoy the live action exhibits.

Visited January 2013
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44 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
Indianapolis, Indiana
Top Contributor
89 reviews 89 reviews
23 attraction reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
“A hidden gem in Indianapolis”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 31, 2012

You do not think Museum when you hear Historical Society - yet this building in addition to being a great research collection has an amazing interactive collection that puts the viewer into the historic event. There are rotating exhibits with period actors playing the parts of the history being described. And the food downstairs is good as well! Best time is in late spring when you can eat outside along the canal.

Visited June 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Indianapolis, Indiana
Top Contributor
65 reviews 65 reviews
28 attraction reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
“Histroy coming to life!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 20, 2012

The Indiana Historical Society provides a new concept in history museums. I recreates period history that you can interact with and learn from! It is a great opprotunity learn about Indiana history, Eli Lilly and see the canal downtown.

Visited July 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Indianapolis, Indiana
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
12 attraction reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“Had a Groupon so thought we would check it out”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 17, 2012

I wasn't sure how much the Historical Society would have for the family to experience, so we investigated using a Groupon (w/o the Groupon I found the admission prices a little high). There were interactive exhibits with real life actors portraying scenes that you walk into and can participate in. While a little intimidating for introverts, it seemed a great way to actually remember some facts! The interactive computers about different areas of the state and the large screen video were interesting and kept our 7 year olds' attention for some time. There were even free hands-on activities involving learning about preserving documents. We will be returning as the exhibits rotate.

Visited May 2012
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Ft. Worth, TX
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
“Impressive live interactive exhibits!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 5, 2012

We found some extra time on our hands while in Indianapolis for Thanksgiving, so journeyed to the History Center to see what we could learn about the Hoosier State! Wow! Their web site claims that they have a new way to experience history, and they aren't making idle claims. We were most impressed with the "You are there" exhibits. Researchers at the musuem choose photographs of a certain event or era, then recreate a live exhibit, keeping everything historically accurate. We experienced an exhibit on the prohibition era (talked to a jailed person and two guards, as well as a temperance leader), another on ending polio (talked to workers who were packaging the life-saving new vaccine while awaiting federal approval for it), and our favorite, a 1939 exhibit on the use of the electrocardiograph -- and what life was like for black physicians. The people in the exhibits entertain questions from the visitors, but keep their answers historically accurate. Their dress, mannerisms, vocabulary, as well as the background and props, all are re-created from historical photograhs. There is even an exhibit elsewhere in the musuem that details the painstaking process of creating these live exhibits.
Don't miss the Cole Porter room, where a muscian will sing your favorite Cole Porter songs in a beautiful lounge!
There is a great movie presentation about Indiana at the beginning, with an opportunity to sit and enjoy the entire presentation or get up and investigate an era at a time at separate stations.
There is also a great display of famous Hoosiers, where one can sit and enjoy the presentation at any time, since it runs in a continual loop.
And there is even a display about the origins of the word "Hoosier!" Who knew?
Each display (and there are many) was thoughtfully presented, but the whole experience was designed for all kinds of people: those who prefer to move, those who prefer to sit, those who like to talk (!), those who prefer to listen. But everyone must come with a sense of curiosity!

Visited November 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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