450 W. Ohio St.
Indianapolis Indiana 46202United States
The Indiana Historical Society's new exhibit provides a hands-on, tech-savvy way to learn history.
The Indiana Historical Society History Centers new exhibit, "Indiana Experience," is anything but a yawner. Instead of flat dioramas and stuff in glass cases, the theatrical, tech-savvy approach makes learning Hoosier history fun. Start in the multimedia theater complex where a short film provides a solid introduction. Then enter one of eight family-size theater stations, each with a digital touch screen. Pull up each of the 92 counties and explore them by subject matter: agriculture, the Civil War, civil rights reform, transportation. Maps, documents, music and photos from the society's collection are included in the 3-minute visual presentations. Next, three "You Are There" galleries await. These life-size stage sets let you walk into a day in Indiana history and meet period-costumed character actors. Galleries change every six to nine months, but during our visit, we went to a 1945 Citizen's Market, where we could shop with rations coupons. We also learned how to make a violin at the 1914 Conrath Violin Shop and tinkered on the engine of a Tin Lizzy at Hartford City Garage. In the swank Cole Porter Room, inspired by the Waldorf Astoria's lounge, a torch singer croons hometown songwriter Cole Porter's songs into the Super '55 silver microphone. Red velvet curtains, cocktail tables and Oriental rugs make the scene complete. They'll even play your favorite Cole Porter tune (so long as it's on their song list). Last but certainly not least, you can learn how to repair treasured photos and documents like the history center's curators do in the Fortune History Lab. Open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $6.50 for seniors, $5 for children ages 5 to 17, and free for everyone under age 5.