Former Indiana Gov. Frank O’Bannon said the Indiana State Museum “captures the essence of the Hoosier spirit.” While you’ll find just about everything you need and want to know about Indiana, you’ll quickly see this is much more than a mere container of Hoosier facts.
As architect Bill Browne of RATIO Architects, Inc. in Indianapolis explains, Indiana State Museum is designed to help tell stories about Indiana’s culture, people and places.
The Museum's primary façade that faces Washington Street represents Indiana's conservative strength. Clad in large-scale ashlar roughback limestone, the stone wall is punctuated with the stainless steel Museum shop. The 19-bay drop-off canopy is emblematic of the steel industry found in the northern part of the state, and also references Indiana’s place as the 19th state to join the Union. The aluminum-banded brick cylinder is a symbol of both Indiana’s industrial stacks and grain silos, which dot the Indiana landscape.
The Museum's secondary façade that faces the NCAA Headquarters and Indianapolis Downtown Canal is a contrary collection of forms. The brick cylinder is cut away, engaging the sloped glazing in its core and day lighting the interior. A series of smooth limestone cubes, a trapezoidal glass prism and sandstone blocks present a cityscape of elements reflecting the nearby central canal’s urban quality.
RATIO created the “92 County Walk,” a collection of 92 pieces of art from every county in the state, as a way to provide a connection for visitors from every part of Indiana. The artwork was designed by 2nd Globe Sculptures in Indianapolis.
Inside, the "INDIANA" sculpture, created by Robert Indiana, rises from the center of the Grand Hall. Indianapolis has the second largest steam network in the nation and with a steam line nearby, horologist Ray Saunders designed a custom steam clock which plays a portion of "Back Home Again in Indiana" on the quarter hour with its steam powered whistles.
Indiana is called the "Crossroads of America.” To symbolize this motto, the Grand Hall becomes the crossroads of the museum, opening to the Central Canal and connects the IMAX, restaurants, auditorium, exhibits and the museum shop around it. The Museum truly tells the many stories of Indiana in stone, steel and spirit.
The Indiana State Museum has about 400,000 artifacts from prehistoric fossils to local pop culture, a collection that began in 1862. This facility opened in 2002, as part of White River State Park, and is along the White River Canal, which is a popular attraction for walkers, joggers and bikers. During warm-weather months, you can take a leisurely ride on a gondola or rent a pedal boat to experience the refurbished canal and all the attractions along its banks.