The History Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana makes the past come alive for more than 20,000 students a year.
But that’s not the best part! Of those students, more than 200 school groups (representing approximately 7,500 students) tour the museum free of charge through the Heritage Education Fund. Each student is provided with a complimentary admission pass, so that he or she may return for another free visit to the museum with their parent or caregiver.
The History’s Center approach is what attracts students. School group tours consist of a multi-part presentation of the community’s history. During the orientation, History Center staff display objects from the collection and relates stories connected with the artifacts. The idea is to pique the students’ curiosity and prepare them to take the tour through the permanent and temporary exhibits. An orientation video follows, and then the students are broken up into small subgroups where they can tour the museum’s 37 permanent exhibitions through the aid of a “Discovery Guide” booklet and adult guides.
In addition to The History Center’s regionally pertinent permanent exhibits, all visiting school groups receive an orientation presentation tailor-made to deliver historical information relevant to each group’s home county in a unique mix of interactivity, education, and entertainment. Students learn the wonders of their own backyard heritage through the history of General Anthony Wayne, Chief Little Turtle, Johnny Appleseed, among other famous Hoosiers.
The History Center tries to make its programming accessible to all by offering full or partial transportation reimbursement to nearly all school groups wishing to visit the museum, including offering full transportation reimbursement for the most needy school groups. Therefore, bussing and transportation expenses are not deterrents for any schools wishing to visit the museum, particularly those from outside Allen County.
The History Center is among many state organizations working to pass on the importance and richness of the past. By giving young people a sense of place and an understanding of their history, they are motivated to pass on our rich heritage to the next generation.