With the pandemic keeping us homebound, we’ve all been missing the quiet joy of a day trip to the museum. After months of staying closed and socially distant, Indy and all of its beautiful museums are slowly reopening to visitors. But until they do, we’re here to satisfy your craving for culture and take you on a quick virtual tour of some of the museums across the city!
And next time you’re in Indy, be sure to check out these monuments to our history—big and small!
Newfields and the Indianapolis Museum of Art
Newfields unifies nature and the arts across the over 100 rolling acres of its campus, bringing together the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the historic Lilly House, and The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park with gorgeous gardens and landscapes. The Indianapolis Museum of Art has over 54,000 permanent works as well as seasonally rotating exhibits to occupy you that range from ancient to contemporary. And after a full day indoors, you can roam the gardens in one of the largest museum art parks in the country. It’s impossible to tour the entire grounds in a day, which means every visit to Newfields promises new sites and lasting memories.
Must See Exhibit: The Design Gallery—the largest U.S. collection gallery devoted to contemporary design.
The Eiteljorg Museum
The Eiteljorg Museum is the only museum of its kind in the Midwest, telling the story of North America’s history through Western and Native American art and artifacts. From traditional Navajo blankets to art from early modernists like Georgia O’Keeffe, the Eiteljorg takes you back to the wild, wild West, teaching visitors about the native peoples and cultures that call this land home. And for a museum so grounded in its history, the Eiteljorg does a fantastic job of embracing the future! Their contemporary collection and art fellowship directly support Native artists, amplifying their voices as they share the Native experience.
Must See Exhibit: The Contemporary Native Art Collection—one of the best collections of its kind in the world.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
The Children’s Museum may be designed for kids—but you’re never too old to feel childlike wonder! With towering giant dinosaurs, a sunken pirate shipwreck, and an Egyptian tomb to explore, the Children’s Museum brings your childhood dreams to life in an educational, interactive experience at the largest children’s museum in the entire world. So, embrace your inner kid and discover why The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is consistently ranked as one of the top children’s museums in the country!
Must See Exhibit: The National Art Museum of Sport—with nearly 1,000 artworks celebrating the most iconic sports moments and athletes.
Indiana War Memorial and Museum
Did you know that Indianapolis is second only to Washington D.C. in its number of monuments and memorials? And the crown jewel of them all is the Indiana War Memorial. The 210-foot tall, mausoleum-style monument was originally built to honor Hoosier veterans of World War I, but if you go inside, you’ll find the Indiana War Museum, which remembers wartime sacrifices throughout our state’s history. From their collection of historic battle flags to the solemn and symbolic Shrine Room, the museum is a powerful tribute to Indiana’s past and present.
Must See Exhibit: The USS Indianapolis (CA-35) Radio Room—showcasing historic U.S. Navy radio equipment.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum
From IndyCar to motorcycles, racing is built into Indy’s DNA—and nowhere is that more obvious than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway! But the IMS oval track is also home to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, one of the most highly recognized automotive museums in the world. The museum collection includes artifacts and automobiles from throughout racing history, including IndyCar, NASCAR, Formula 1, and other vehicles that set the record in speed. And if you have the time, we recommend buckling up for one of the museum’s guided tours of the track, taking you behind the scenes—and even letting you kiss the bricks! (We promise it’s not as strange as it sounds!)
Must See Exhibit: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame—celebrating the drivers, owners, and personalities that have shaped racing history
Indiana State Museum
Ready to brush up on your Hoosier history? Across its collection of over 500,000 objects, the Indiana State Museum walks you through the story of Indiana—from the beginning of the Earth to our modern-day heroes and history in the making. With exhibits from ancient mastodons to automotive pioneers, the museum preserves the stories of past Hoosiers and showcases Indiana’s growing global prowess from the arts to the sciences. And after all that history, their rotating exhibits ground us in today’s victories and movements, currently featuring experiences about feminist art activism and the fight against opioid addiction.
Must See Exhibit: Natural Regions—exploring Indiana’s native flora and fauna through time in immersive lifelike landscapes.
Rhythm! Discovery Center
If quiet museum tours aren’t quite your style, then get ready to make some noise at the Rhythm! Discovery Center. Rhythm! is the world’s first interactive drum and percussion museum, featuring a wide variety of historic instruments for you to hit, bang, and rat-a-tat-tat! Their exhibits let you explore the rhythmic sounds of different instruments while you learn about how percussion has shaped communication throughout our history. And Rhythm! knows that the best way to learn about music is to dive right in—so you can try out hundreds of instruments on your tour or join one of their regular drum circles for a community jam session!
Must See Exhibit: Drums and Drummers—featuring sets used by famous drummers and a lesson in customizing your drum set to find the perfect sound.
NCAA Hall of Champions
Calling all sports fans! From bowling to basketball, the NCAA Hall of Champions features two floors of interactive exhibits celebrating the all-star athletes and skills of collegiate sports. The first showcases ranking, highlights, and artifacts from all 24 NCAA sports across the nation’s colleges—and the second tests your talent to see how you measure up! The fully interactive area lets you compete both hands-on in their 1930s retro gym and virtually through their sports simulators. So, get on the court and see if you have what it takes to be a champion!
Must See Exhibit: The Hall of Honor—highlighting past collegiate champions and how their strong character helped them become role models and leaders.
Indiana Medical History Museum
If you’ve got a strong stomach and a curiosity for modern medicine, you need to check out the Indiana Medical History Museum (IMHM)—and take a tour through the beginnings of scientific psychiatry! Located on the ground of Indiana’s former Central State Hospital, the IMHM is home to old laboratories and preserved brain specimens as well as the Old Pathology Building, the oldest surviving pathology facility in the nation. And after you’ve explored their historic time capsule, you can stroll through their Medical Plant Garden, learning about the origins and medical uses of over 120 different medicinal plants from around the world!
Must See Exhibit: The Doctor’s Office—featuring an intact office display that shows how a small-town family practitioner worked prior to WWII.
Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library
Renowned author and Indianapolis native Kurt Vonnegut may have passed away—so it goes—but you can still read his work and learn about his life at the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library (KVML)! There, you can watch videos about the man behind the novels, see his actual typewriter, and browse collections of signed and first editions of his most famous books. And the KVML carries on Vonnegut’s legacy by fighting censorship and supporting literacy efforts, from their teaching workshops to their literary journal.
Must See Exhibit: Kurt Vonnegut’s Rejection Letters—reminding us that everyone faces (and eventually overcomes) rejection.
Indy’s Teeny Statue of Liberty Museum
And last but (probably) not least, the Teeny Statue of Liberty Museum pays homage to Lady Liberty—and all the tiny trinkets that have been sold and made in her likeness! The museum’s collection has hundreds of pieces collected over 33 years of antiquing and salvaging, with everything from Barbie dolls, to toothbrush holders, to lawn sprinklers. Guests from around the world have travelled to the small, 200-square foot nook in downtown Indy to marvel at the statue’s pop culture legacy. So, if you have any old Statue of Liberty memorabilia lying around, be sure to drop in, sign the guestbook, and donate your own teeny piece of history!
Must See Exhibit: The scaled-down Statue of Liberty that stands on top of the building—whose lit torch has never gone out since the museum first opened.
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