Sunday, July 22, 2012

In the Indiana State Museum

As participants in both a US State Culture Swap AND a Worldwide Culture Swap going on right now, the kiddos and I have been busy preparing care packages all about their home state of Indiana.

It's kind of funny that it's projects like this that actually lead us into these studies, which is why I'll sign up for postcard swaps and art swaps and geography swaps like these whenever I see them, simply because it makes for such a great project-based study.

Anyway, as part of this swap, I realized that I really don't know all that much about Indiana. Thank goodness that we live only an hour away from the state capital! I like to set aside one day of each school week for field trips (that I might otherwise be too lazy to take my girls on), so last week on our free day we spent the day at the Indiana State Museum.

State history being what it often is, I didn't have high expectations of the museum, and I made sure that I had our Indianapolis Children's Museum membership card with us so that we could recoup the day after our visit. However, what I didn't know is that the Indiana State Museum...

is freaking AWESOME!

How can you go wrong, for instance, when you begin your discussion of state history with, you know, the DAWN OF TIME?!?

This was a particularly apt introduction for my own two kiddos, since they LOVE evolution, fossils, and geology of all sorts:
Turn the crank to make the years go by--it takes a LONG time!

There was a good combination of both hands-on and stationary exhibits, and I was really impressed by the quality of the signage, especially, so much so that I took to photographing many of the informational displays like these so that I could remember them, and so Willow could use them as references for her report on Indiana:

And, of course, because the museum is focused on Indiana, much of its displays were immediately relevant. We find crinoids and geodes all the time while creek stomping, for instance--although never ones THIS nice!

Another component that I really liked was the inclusion of little videos into some exhibits; the videos further explained the information, contextualized it quite a bit, personalized it, and made it so that I didn't have to read every single display to Sydney!

There were also, of course, ample pioneer and early statehood exhibits--
The kiddos are searching for all the native animals listed in the captions.

Look how relevant--we JUST made Mason jar butter again the other day!
moonshine still--NICE!!!
 --and although there wasn't much content on Native Americans--

Willow discovers what she'd look like with tribal tatoos

the Eiteljorg next door (at which we had a TERRIBLE time on a museum field trip once, unfortunately, because of some really rude docents, and to which will will NOT be traveling again) focuses on that.

I was also surprised by how much we enjoyed the contemporary portions of the museum--not only did we find a vessel by our friend Malcolm in the Indiana artist's gallery-- 

--but we also, believe it or not, found the history and evolution of corn on the cob FASCINATING:

god of CORN!!!
At the gift shop, I bought:

  • one Indiana-themed coloring book (pages of which I'll photocopy to send off in our swap packages)
  • two small packages (one each chosen by the girls) of very colorful heirloom popcorn
  • two packages of retro candy--Charms and Zotz--also chosen by the girls
They also stocked retro sodas, mix-and-match by the six-pack, which I would have purchased if I'd felt like carrying them around, and I would have purchased one of those fancy coffee table museum books that museums sometimes publish, IF this museum had published one and IF it had had some of those excellent summaries and infographics included in the exhibits.

So yay we had a good time, yay we learned a lot about Indiana, and yay heirloom popcorn is TASTY!

1 comment:

Indiana State Museum said...

So glad you enjoyed your visit! We especially appreciate your comments on the exhibit labeling; it is a constant discussion re: how lengthy, now advanced, etc. they should be. I encourage you to post your great pics to our Flickr page here:


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