Exploring Indiana’s Museums
One of the things we like to do when traveling about the state is to visit one of Indiana’s 348 museums or state historic sites. Scattered about in just about every county in the state, these museums range from local historical museums to themed museums like Dr. Ted’s Musical Marvels in Dale, Indiana, which features restored musical instruments from around the world.
Wilbur Wright Birthplace & Museum
This museum, located in a remote rural location seemingly in the middle of a cornfield, features the restored boyhood home of Wilbur Wright as well as extensive displays with realistic displays of the Wright brother’s bicycle shop in Dayton and the campsite they set up while testing their airplane. A life size model of the Wright Flyer occupies center point in the museum. Built to fly, the airplane never made it into the air due to insurance concerns held by the builder.
Ohio River Museums
In Aurora travelers will find the Hillforest Mansion, an 1855 Italian Renaissance mansion just blocks from the river and downtown Aurora historic district.
Tourists driving along the Ohio River Byway will find several fascinating museums in towns like Aurora, Rising Sun, Vevay, Madison, Clarksville and Jeffersonville. Visitors to the Ohio County Historical Museum and the Life on the Ohio Museum in Vevay feature various displays depicting the culture of those living along the river. Both museums have impressive model boats of virtually every type of boat that plied the Ohio River.
The Museums of Madison
Madison Indiana has an extensive selection of museums which include the seven historic properties maintained by Historic Madison. These museums are open to the public, some of which only during specific times. The Jefferson County Historical Society Museums include themed displays on such topics as early Madison, the Civil War and Victorian life. The restored Madison Railroad Station includes railroad memorabilia and a diorama of the Madison Cut and Hill, the steepest railroad incline built in the United States. The Indiana State Museum maintains the historic mansion built by James Lanier in the Nineteenth Century.
Richmond Indiana Museums
The Richmond Indiana area is a treasure trove of museums. Historical treasures in this vibrant town include the Wayne County Historical Museum. This museum bills itself as a miniature Smithsonian Museum, a boast I took seriously when we visited it. The complex includes vintage cars, airplanes, a pioneer settlement, steam powered tractors, locally made artifacts, Native American and Civil War artifacts, and a mummy. The Model T Ford Museum allows visitors to peruse a huge collection of Model T Fords and memorabilia. The 466-acre Hayes Arboretum, located just outside Richmond, includes a nature center and museum with exhibits about founder Stanley Hayes and railroad track items produced by the Hayes Track Appliance Company. The Indiana Football Hall of Fame is also located in Richmond.
This is just a tiny sampling of the fascinating museums to be found in Indiana. My book, Exploring Indiana’s Museums, includes information on all of Indiana’s museums as well as a history of museums and contact information for all of the county tourism boards in the state.
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