We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“The actors are great!”

Indiana Historical Society
Ranked #29 of 173 things to do in Indianapolis
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
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
Level 5 Contributor
56 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“The actors are great!”
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
1 Thank AmyNewPalestine
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

132 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Indianapolis, Indiana
Level 6 Contributor
266 reviews
77 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
“A hidden gem in Indianapolis”
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
1 Thank NewillDB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level 6 Contributor
164 reviews
59 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
“Histroy coming to life!”
Reviewed December 19, 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
1 Thank LizaAllee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Indianapolis, Indiana
Level 5 Contributor
50 reviews
25 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Had a Groupon so thought we would check it out”
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
2 Thank HaleyJo09
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ft. Worth, TX
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“Impressive live interactive exhibits!”
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
1 Thank Linda E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Indiana Historical Society also viewed


Been to Indiana Historical Society? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing