IBJNews

Conner Prairie to open interactive Civil War exhibit

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Conner Prairie Interactive History Park will open a Civil War exhibit in June, hoping for a similar bump in membership and ticket sales as it got from its Balloon Voyage rides the past two summers.

The $4.3 million exhibit, dubbed 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana, will take visitors through the experience of volunteering to fight Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan and his 2,400 Rebel raiders who crossed into Indiana in July 1863.

About 60,000 volunteers mustered in Indianapolis and traveled south to confront Morgan's troops. Through the use of video, theatrical staging, live action and hands-on experiences, exhibit visitors will be made to feel as if they are joining in with the volunteers.

"We can create this immersive experience and tell people you have just volunteered for this militia," said Conner Prairie CEO Ellen Rosenthal. "You were someone who volunteered. You were one who never expected to take up arms."

Conner Prairie, an outdoor history center located along Allisonville Road near Fishers, has raised $2.1 million of the needed funds and began construction of the exhibit in July. It will be located where the 1886 Liberty Corner has been for several years.

Conner Prairie CEO Ellen Rosenthal said she expects the Civil War exhibit to boost membership by 13 percent, which would bring in an extra $67,000. That's how much membership grew this year after the July 2009 opening of the 1859 Balloon Voyage ride.

The Civil War exhibit will be included in Conner Prairie's general admission. Conner Prairie's market research projects overall admission sales will get a $100,000 boost from the exhibit.

Total revenue and expenses at Conner Prairie totaled about $9.5 million in 2009, the latest year for which results are available.

Conner Prairie's timing is pretty good. With 2011 marking the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, historical institutions around the country expect interest to be especially high.

"The Civil War has enjoyed growing interest as we approach the sesquicentennial," said John Herbst, CEO of the Indiana Historical Society, who noted that the Civil War is always one the top five topics for researchers going through the society's archives.

Conner Prairie found the same thing. In an online survey, as well as focus groups conducted in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Cincinnati, it found that the Civil War drew far more interest than other historical eras such as World War II or the 1960s.

"It was a landslide," said Rosenthal, who estimated that 80 percent opted for Civil War topics. "People are really interested in the Civil War."

Conner Prairie already hosts a Civil War re-enactment during one weekend each May. This year, the so-called "Civil War Days" drew more than 10,000 visitors.

But Conner Prairie has never had a permanent exhibit set during the Civil War. Its core exhibit, Prairietown, is set in 1836. It also has an exhibit on Native Americans set in 1816. Its Liberty Center was set in 1886.

Herbst, who was CEO of Conner Prairie until 2003, said it's a smart strategy for any cultural institution to keep freshening its exhibits, which gives visitors a reason to keep coming back.

"They have to change their offerings, add something new that really catches the people's attention," he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • The zoo
    Jeff, I don't know what you're talking about. In the last 5 years or so, the zoo has added exhibits for white rhinos, meerkats, dog shark petting and cheetas. It has also refreshed the elephant exhibit, Oceans, added the dolphin dome and is currently reconfiguring the tiger exhibit to bring them closer to patrons.

    I think the zoo has done an excellent job of adding as much as they can and improving the park, especially given it's limited space on the edge of downtown. True, a one-time visit is costly for a family. It's a much better value to purchase a membership and visit several times a year. Keep in mind, too, that the zoo receives no tax dollars.
  • Will The Zoo Get a Clue
    Wow. Wonder when the Indianapolis Zoo will do something new---besides just charge you money for the same stuff year after year...
  • Sounds great, but
    will the BP logo be plastered on this display as well??
  • Great Educational moments
    Well if complete the thought!
    . I have read my Great Grandfather,who was a Colonel from Indianapolis letters and they are interesting to see what life was like in that time period.
  • Great Educational moments
    I look forward to this exhibit. I have read my Great Grandfather,who was a Colonel from Indianapolis. It is good that people learn more about the heartache and striff of the times. Can't wait to attend.

    Post a comment to this story

    COMMENTS POLICY
    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
     
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
     
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
     
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
     
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
     

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by
    ADVERTISEMENT

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
     
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. Uh, sorry Johnnie, but you are incorrect. Despite the assertions by yourself and various defenders and captains, sports attendance is NOT off significantly at most sporting events in the US. Variances in attendance has been in the range of single digits, both + & - for years now. MLB has had most of its best overall attendance nubers in the last decade, and that trend has been consistent for most major sporting events. The number one issue cited by most fans when asked about attendance is the overall cost of attending. The presence of HD and big screen televisions in home doesn't even register, as a factor for not attending an event. VALUE in the product is the key, and apparently is something lacking in the current ICS. What other explanation is there when with what is routinely touted as the "best" racing on the planet, fans are staying away in DROVES. A "close" title battle into the last event at Fontana, with the "cars and stars" of the ICS, and who showed up? MAYBE 8K. Sorry, but HD TV isn't to blame for that kind of fan apathy.

    2. Do you need finance to establish your business ? Are you interested in getting a loan at 3% from our private company? If so please Email: suntrust_oil@blumail.org

    3. If she was worth the $ the public outcry over direct tv dropping them would have kept them on their dishes as we have seen with other companies. I too quit watching channel 13 after she showed up since I left channel 8 because of her all show rather than production results. When Randy on 8 corrected her she had a big head and incorrectly challenged his correction for pronunciation of a city. Other antics while she matures was too much for me with her very inaccurate forecasts. All the forecasters were predicting rain until Thursday except Chris. They predicted sunny on Thursday but instead of rain until Thursday upon which the sun would finally make it out in full glory Chris was right on the money just as I too predicted looking at the radar on weather.gov. One thing I love about Angela is the fear you can see in her every time it thunders in the winter. It far exceeds the entertainment value of her body language (high heel noise drags, depression, etc) when her forecasts are so incorrect. Her hair stands on end, you have to see it!!!

    4. Good Day, Apply For A Loan I am Mr Fernadez Antonio, a private Loan lender and a cooperate financial for real estate and any kinds of business financing. I also offer Loans to individuals, Firms and cooperate bodies at 3% interest rate We offer any kind of loans. email us via fernadezloaninvest@outlook.com LOAN APPLICATION FORM First name:......................... Middle name:......................... Last name:........................................ Date of birth (yyyy-mm-dd):....................... Gender:........................................... Marital status:................................... Total Amount Needed............................... Loan Duration.................................... Address:.......................................... City:............................................. State/province:................................... Zip/postal code:.................................. Country:.......................................... Phone:............................................ Fax:.............................................. Mobile/cellular:.................................. Monthly Income.................................... Occupation:....................................... Best Regard, Mr Fernadez Antonio.

    5. i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world i got married to my husband about 2 year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side i have never love any man in my life except him. he is the father of my child and i don't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today .few month ago he now decided to live me and the kid,being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken.i called my mom and explain every thing to her,my mother told me about DR.okoro how he helped her solve the problem between her and my dad i was surprise about it because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. i was directed to DR. okoro on his email:okorospell@gmail.com and explain everything to him,so he promise me not to worry that he will cast a spell and make things come back to how we where so much in love again and that it was another female spirit that was controlling my husband he told me that my problem will be solved within two days if i believe i said OK So he cast a spell for me and after two days my love came back asking me to forgive him i Am so happy now. so that why i decided to share my experience with every body that have such problem contact Dr okoro the great spell caster on his email addresses spellcasterforlove@outlook.com

    ADVERTISEMENT