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“Impressive live interactive exhibits!”

Indiana Historical Society
Ranked #30 of 176 things to do in Indianapolis
Certificate of Excellence
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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.
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!

1  Thank Linda E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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117 - 121 of 134 reviews

Reviewed October 20, 2012

This is a one of a kind type of place. The Historical Society has three "being there" experiences that allow you to literally step through historically significant pictures back in time to important events throughout Indiana history. When I went, there was a polio vaccine factory, a prohibition raid and the apartment of a Holocaust survivor. The museum is set up so that when you step through the picture, it takes you to a room of reinactment actors who you can speak with and who will tell you about what is going on in the scene. Highly recommended for anyone looking for something interesting to do. I will definitely be back on my next trip through Indianapolis!

2  Thank Natnik99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 27, 2012

Not just interactive, but emersive experiences. These actors ad lib while you tour through historical scenarious from Indy in the 20th century. Is that for real? Yes - as a matter of fact, it is!

Thank IndyLady01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 17, 2012

Our WWII Veterans visited the IHS for part of our Indianapolis tour when in town for the groups annual reunion. We were very graciously welcomed, and the staff was super accommodating to our mobile-challenged members. I can not express how helpful Kasee was in setting up our visit. Plenty of areas to sit and enjoy the beautiful exhibits. We also catered box lunches through Hoaglin catering that was available onsite - thank you Laurel for all your help. Excellent service and food. Enjoyed the Cole Porter room and the Prohibition exhibit. Great gift shop - had a hard time getting everyone out of the museum and shop, and back on our bus!

Thank darosey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 6, 2012

I've been to the IHS quite a few times and I think you have to know what you want to see/do before you go.

Exhibits -
It is an interactive history museum, so prepare yourself to "get involved" with actors. I have seen guests come into the building who do not want to have anything to do with the interactive part, which might have turned them away from the exhibits. I would say it's OK for kids who are older, but maybe not as fun as Conner Prairie. I would say the exhibits are geared more towards adults. Cole Porter room is fun, if you are there while a singer is in the room. The IHS tends to have alot of promotions, so I would check local papers for coupons to get a discount off admission. The ICVA might even offer a coupon.

The Stardust Cafe is a great place to have lunch during your visit. You can eat on the beautiful terrace outside by the canal or under the starlit ceiling inside. Hoaglin operates the cafe and the food is pretty good - just very expensive! If you park at the IHS you can get your parking validated through the cafe.

Concerts on the Canal -
Their summer concert series is fun, so I recommend this to any locals or visiting families. You can either reserve a table on the terrace (where the band is) or there is free seating on the stairs and the hill across the canal. If you want to sit on the stairs, make sure to get there early - there are always early birds. You can still hear the band from the hill, but boy is it hot!! There is no shade on the hill.

For the location and the ammenities, IHS offers a great deal for meetings and events. Their meeting rooms are equipped with projectors and your guests get free admission to the museum for day time events. My only compaint for daytime meetings is the price of catering - but I guess that's to be expected. The theater is beautiful too and Lilly Hall is only available for evening events.

Hope you enjoy your visit to the IHS!

Thank bikiniblonde2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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