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Attendance figures were inconsistent

August 21, 2010

I was disappointed in the lack of fair and accurate reporting in Kathleen McLaughlin’s article, “Missing the action: Museums struggle to capture foot traffic from busy Central Canal,” which was published in the Aug. 16 edition. As a statewide organization with a building that serves as both a cultural attraction and a community center, I feel it’s important to set the record straight.

The most egregious mistake in this piece is the lack of an apples-to-apples attendance comparison amongst the four featured institutions. Use of the IHS’s overall attendance number of 45,303 (Jan. 1-July 31, 2010) would have been the equivalent comparison to match the attendance figures of the other museums listed, which included things such as private events and café usage.

These figures reflect the fact that the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center continues to be a center for our citizenry—one where the arts and civic dialogue thrive, as well as a place that serves thousands of individuals who come to explore IHS’s vast collections and participate in related programming. Our outdoor Concerts on the Canal weekly series alone has already served more than 7,800 people this summer.

Having reopened the History Center in March, we are continuing to build attendance for our new visitor experiences—both from canal foot traffic and the state at large. The new Indiana Experience is designed to be engaging, interactive and, most of all, highly personalized. As such, we do not expect to herd a million people through each year, and we do not depend solely on the modest admission charge to offset the cost of operating the Indiana Experience.

I hope the public will take the time to learn more about all the programs of the Indiana Historical Society, including the Indiana Experience.

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John A. Herbst
President and CEO
Indiana Historical Society

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