Indianapolis is home to some of the most unique museums and historical sites in the United States. You can learn about medical history at the oldest standing pathology facility in the nation, sit in a vintage Indycar like the legends of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or invite your family to the largest children’s museum in the world. Whether you’re a sports fan, a history buff, or a social activist, Indy is the perfect place to learn something new!
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. The museum is currently featuring special exhibits about Black Americans’ fight for full citizenship after the Empancipation Proclamation, a gallery highlighing the impact artists can have on nature conservation, and an exploration of Indiana’s automotive manufacturing history.
Must See Exhibit: Natural Regions—exploring Indiana’s native flora and fauna through time in immersive lifelike landscapes.
The Indiana Historical Society
The Indiana Historical Society has been preserving the stories of iconic Hoosiers since 1830. This award-winning museum rotates through a variety of immersive exhibits throughout the year. So, there’s no limit to the topics you’ll be able to explore. Sometimes the museum even hosts live actors to portray figures throughout history. Currently, IHS is hosting an exhibit to honor Chuck Taylor, an Indiana native and product marketer who left his mark on the Converse footwear brand. You can also visit the Eva Kor exhibit to learn about her powerful story of activism and survival during the Holocaust.
Must See Exhibit: Documents That Shaped America—featuring documents such as the first editions of the Gettysburg Address and the U.S. Constitution.
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. This museum is also known for an exhibit called the Doctor’s Office which features the intact office display of a small-town family practitioner who worked prior to WWII.
Must See Exhibit: The Medical Plant Garden—a place to learn about the origins and medical uses of over 120 different medicinal plants from around the world!
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.
People don’t just visit Connor Prairie to enjoy nature and attend live concerts—they come here to step back into history. This outdoor museum spans over 800 acres and is one of the most visited of its kind. There are actors all around the property wearing vintage clothing and teaching visitors about life during the 19th century. Conner Prairie offers programming throughout all four seasons. In the colder months you can attend your own hearthside dinner and learn about historical cooking methods. And in the warmer months, you can even learn some basic skills in blacksmithing.
Must See Exhibit: Lenape Indian Camp– showcasing Native culture in Indiana, fur trading, and basket weaving.
You Might Like
On June 28th, Eli Lilly and Company sponsored a collaborative event with Visit Indy called the Learn About Indy and Brand Yourself Workshop. During this event, we were able to learn about some incredible new developments and events coming to Indy. Many people in our...
A LOOK BACK AT THE ENTIRE 2023 INDYFLUENCE PROGRAMIndyfluence is a four week internship program based on three pillars: MEET INDY, LEARN FROM INDY, and GIVE BACK TO INDY. The MEET INDY program pillar connected interns to important local events and organizations to...
Congratulations to all of our interns on completing the 2023 Indyfluence program! The last four weeks have been jam packed with amazing events, activities, and content to help you MEET INDY, LEARN FROM INDY, and GIVE BACK to INDY! Time has really flown by, but we hope...
After a long day of work, you might want to get out and enjoy a night in the city with your friends. Whether you prefer a drink at a bar, some high-energy concert music, or even a magic show — Indianapolis has everything to offer. Here are a few of the best ways to...