This recently-opened history and natural history museum features three floors of gallery space that share the human and natural history of Indiana. The museum also hosts cultural exhibits and events, as well as science programs and history lectures. Among the highlights of the modern facility, completed in 2002, is an IMAX theater, exhibits and programming for children and parents, special exhibits dedicated to state and local history, art exhibits, and a cafe.


  • Nearly 700,000 people visit the Indiana State Museum each year.
    Nearly 700,000 people visit the Indiana State Museum each year.

Although the museum boasts a modern facility, the origins of the Indiana State Museum are quite humble. During the Civil War, when Indiana State Librarian R. Deloss Brown began collecting geological materials. The state legislature saw the value of this collection, appointing a geologist categorize and expand the collection. After the war, this collection became a sort of traveling museum until a space was created in the state capitol building in 1888. 

After World War II, leading Indianapolis businessman Eli Lilly worked to create a state museum. Although his plans failed to materialize, community members continued these efforts  and lobbied the Indiana legislature to create funds for a state museum. When the former Indianapolis City Hall became vacant in 1961, plans for a permanent museum seemed to finally be realized. However, the museum in the former city hall required both fundraising and renovations, and it was not until 1967 that the Indiana State Museum became a reality.

Plans to expand the museum faltered during the 1980s and 1990s, but the state legislature approved a funding bill that provided for the creation of the current facility in White River State Park in 1999. 
On May 22, 2002, the current facility held its grand opening in its state-of-the-art building.