The Indiana Insider Blog

Time traveling at the Indiana Historical Society

Lilly Hall

I have had the pleasure of visiting the Indiana Historical Society’s gorgeous building along the Canal Walk in downtown Indianapolis several times in the past for various events. But I had never explored its exhibits, so I was excited when my family was provided tickets. I think this is the type of place that many parents of toddlers shy away from when planning family outings—fear of kids breaking valuable artifacts or boredom setting in 5 minutes after arriving are just a few reasons for the hesitation.

You Are There, a series of three rooms that bring the past to life, are the perfect antidote to those fears.  At each exhibit, you literally walk through a photo (the first is a 1945 grocery store, then a 1924 mechanic’s shop, and finally a 1914 violin maker’s shop). As you enter, you take a step back in time and children are free to explore. Our son was able to play with the checkers in the store, sit in a Model T, and touch the beautiful musical instruments.

Conrath Violin Shop

But the best part of the experience is the personal touch that the Historical Society provides its guests. A staff member greeted us at each room and explained what we were about to see. My favorite aspect of the exhibit were the live actors and actresses found within each “photo.” They answered all our questions, and I was even given my first violin lesson. My son couldn’t wait to see who might be on the other side of the photo screen at each stop (and what wonderful costumes they would be wearing).

If you go, don’t miss the gift shop on your way out. We picked up a few uniquely Hoosier Christmas gifts for some members of our family there.

While downtown Indianapolis is full of exciting attractions, the Indiana Historical Society is worth making a step back in time for.

Nicole Wiltrout received complementary goods or services from the organization(s) that was the subject of this blog post in exchange for blogging services. For more information, please see our FTC Disclosure page.

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Written by : Nicole is a stay-at-home mom and blogger living in Columbus, Indiana. She blogs about adventures at home and away with her husband and 2-year-old son at She grew up in Plainfield, Indiana and graduated from Butler University in 2002. She grew up in Plainfield, Indiana and graduated from Butler University in 2002. She spent seven years living and working in downtown Indianapolis following college. Nicole is always looking for fun, kid-friendly outing ideas. You can contact her via email or find her on Twitter at @arrowssentforth. Nicole receives compensation from the Indiana Office of Tourism Development for blogging. For more information, see our FTC Disclosure page.