The Top Ten Places in Indiana to Experience the Humanities

May 13, 2009

By Amy Vaughan, Director, The Indiana Office of Tourism Development

With June quickly approaching, I am optimistic about Indiana’s summer travel season. As I think about my own trip ideas for this summer, I am struck by how much there is to do in Indiana to celebrate the humanities. 

Here’s what comes to my mind:

1. Bloomington – One of Indiana’s best food towns, visit Farm Bloomington, Restaurant Tallent and the Scholar’s Inn, for a world class meal.  And don’t forget to stop on Fourth Street’s Restaurant Row to try ethnic fare.

2. Columbus – Stop at the Columbus Visitors Center and take its guided driving tour of a city Smithsonian magazine called “a veritable museum of modern architecture.”  Visitors can see more than 70 buildings and pieces of public art from I.M. Pei, Eliel Saarinen and Dale Chihuly.

3. Conner Prairie’s New Balloon Exhibit – A recreation of an 1859 mail delivery test in Lafayette, the tethered helium balloon ride combines the adventure of climbing 350 feet in the sky with learning about the history of flight in Indiana.

4. Elkhart County Quilt Gardens Tour – This driving tour features more than 16 gardens and 16 hand painted murals.   (Visit in mid-July for the best blooms.)  All of the gardens have been created to replicate Amish quilt designs.

5. The Indiana Repertory Theatre – Founded in 1972, the IRT is one of the leading regional theatres in the country.  I’ve been wowed by performances of To Kill a Mockingbird, A Christmas Carol and Pride and Prejudice. 

6. The Indiana State Fair – With everything from the world’s largest boar to gourds shaped like David Letterman, the state fair is my favorite Indiana spot in August.

7. The Indianapolis Museum of Art – One of the tenth largest general art museums in the country, the museum’s world class art collection and 152 of gardens and grounds are well worth the visit.

8. New Harmony –The site of two utopian communities, New Harmony offers a rare mix of architectural gardens, historic buildings and unusual public spaces.  It’s an unusual gem tucked away in southern Indiana.

9. The West Baden Dome at West Baden Springs Hotel – It’s been called the Eighth Wonder of the World.  An amazing display of design ingenuity, the dome is breathtaking to see.

10. White River State Park – It offers a rich mix of concerts, events, exhibits and gardens at the Indianapolis Zoo, the Eiteljorg Museum of Native American Art, the NCAA Hall of Champions and the Indianapolis Indians.

And these are just a handful of the many great options in Indiana.  I’d like to know, “Where’s your favorite place in Indiana to get your dose of the humanities?”


  1. hi u have done a nice piece of work and Thanks for this post ………

  2. Hey Amy, this top ten list is fantastic. I have family in Fort Wayne and they are always complaining about how they have to go t Chicago to find some culture, I will forward this list to them. You can post this to our site http://www.toptentopten.com/ and link back to your site. We are trying to create a directory for top ten lists where people can find your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

  3. I agree that B-town’s restaurants are fabulous, but another must-see opportunity in Bloomington is the area’s museums and art galleries. Twelve art galleries in the downtown area, plus several musuems both on and off campus provide all the arts & humanities you could wish for! My faves: The Mathers Museum, the IU Art Museum, the Lilly Library and the Kinsey Institute on campus (Bonus: they’re all FREE!) and WonderLab in downtown Bloomington.

  4. Thanks for thinking of the Indianapolis Museum of Art! The IMA has a permanent collection of more than 54,000 objects, which we regularly rotate throughout the year, so there’s always something new to see in the galleries. Additionally, the Museum offers a number of special exhibitions–many of which have free admission. I’ve pasted some info about one upcoming show below, but you can check out our full calendar of events online at http://www.imamuseum.org:

    Adaptation: Video Installations by Ben-Ner, Herrera, Sullivan and Sussman & The Rufus Corporation
    May 8–August 16, 2009

    While adaptation is a common practice in popular culture–familiar to moviegoers and book-lovers who debate endlessly whether the film version is superior to the novel–it is perhaps less well known as a practice in contemporary art. This exhibition looks at the use of adaptation in the recent work of four leading artists: Guy Ben-Ner, Arturo Herrera, Catherine Sullivan and Eve Sussman & The Rufus Corporation. These artists have transformed source material to make their own adapted works of art, re-envisioning classic literature, film, ballet, email and painting as new video installations. For example, Ben-Ner condenses Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick into a brief silent video made almost entirely in the artist’s kitchen, while Sussman’s feature-length The Rape of the Sabine Women transforms an 18th-century painting into an extended contemporary narrative. In six video installations adapted from source material, the exhibition addresses questions of fidelity and creativity while generating new understandings of the use of adaptation as a practice in contemporary art. The exhibition includes the United States museum premieres of The Rape of the Sabine Women and Les Noces, Herrera’s first video installation.

    The IMA will offer a free talk by artist Eve Sussman on Thursday, May 21 at 6:30 p.m. in Tobias Theater. Following Sussman’s talk, visitors may attend a free reception from 8 to 10 p.m. in Pulliam Great Hall and tour the exhibition Adaptation until 9 p.m. Light hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar are available.

  5. Hi Amy – Great article! But there is a big omission from #10 – The Indiana State Museum is also located in White River State Park, right on the canal between the Eiteljorg and NCAA. We are Indiana’s museum of science and culture, and we provide excellent educational and fun exhibits and event for families from Indiana and beyond. Please visit our website for information about upcoming exhibits and events – indianamuseum.org.

  6. Thank you for the wonderful post and the great suggestions! I am from the Fort Wayne area, and one of my favorite places to go is the Allen County Public Library. It has recently been renovated and is just beautiful. Plus, they are always hosting wonderful cultural events for people of all ages — from puppet shows to chocolate making. And, of course, you can’t beat the price.

  7. Yeah, These ten places are really relevant , I want to visit them.

  8. Love your site, Beautiful Website! view our beautiful state,

    Wisconsin is a Four Season Wonderland that borders two of the five Great Lakes, Our State is rich in arts, historic & cultural, where you can find great adventures for the whole family.

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