Conner Prairie announces $33 million makeover for welcome center

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Conner Prairie
This rendering of the future Museum Experience Center features a sign that denotes Conner Prairie as a Smithsonian affiliate. (Image provided by Conner Prairie)

Fishers-based living history museum Conner Prairie announced plans Thursday for a yearlong transformation of its welcome center.

The $33 million project will give the building a new name, the Museum Experience Center, and add immersive exhibit spaces, access to collection items and hands-on learning and play.

Funded through the Prairie Pathways Campaign, the Museum Experience Center will include a new entry to Conner Prairie’s grounds.

“The newly imagined Museum Experience Center will not only enrich lives through its incredible immersive experiences, but will also serve as a beacon of opportunity, fostering community and bridging the past to the present,” Conner Prairie CEO Norman Burns said in a written statement.

The building will close its attractions Nov. 27 to prepare for construction, but ticketing will remain open through the end of the year. The building also will serve as an entrance for Conner Prairie’s “A Very Merry Prairie Holiday.”

On Feb. 5, 2024, the building will close. The projected opening for the Museum Experience Center is 2025. Browning Day is the architect for the project.

The Prairie Pathways Campaign has raised more than $40 million in philanthropic support, according to a news release. The money has helped to fund the Museum Experience Center as well as the Trails at Conner Prairie and the Promised Land as Proving Ground exhibit.

A year ago, Conner Prairie announced plans for $24 million in new capital projects that included the Museum Experience Center, but the price and scope of the project has escalated since then.

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