Major exhibit on opioid epidemic coming to Indiana State Museum

Indiana, which has been hit hard by the opioid crisis, has made plenty of headlines in its efforts to get the epidemic under control.

It rolled out new treatment centers. It required doctors to write prescriptions for no more than a seven-day supply of an opioid when first prescribing to a patient. It set up a data hub to analyze overdoses, arrests, ambulance calls and naloxone supplies.

Now, get ready for a major exhibit that will take a look at the opioid issue in depth. The Indiana State Museum is gearing up for “Fix: Heartbreak and Hope Inside our Opioid Crisis.”

The exhibit, which opens Feb. 1, covers 7,000 square feet and invites visitors to “unravel the crisis one step at a time,” with displays on the biology behind addictions, American history with other health crises, and personal stories from addicts and families.

It will use a mix of art, science, multimedia, hands-on installations and interactive artwork.

“Our goal is to remove the shame and isolation surrounding this disease, showing how all of us can play a pivotal role in finding solutions to this devastating crisis,” the museum said on its website.

Devastating is not too strong a word. More than 1,700 Hoosiers died from drug overdoses in 2017 (the last year figures are available), a 75% increase from 2011. The vast majority of those deaths were linked to opioid misuse.

The Indiana Hospital Association says the epidemic has damaged “individuals, families and entire communities” in Indiana.

Facts about opioid addiction and treatment are scattered in various health studies, police reports and spreadsheets in hospitals and health departments. But the museum wants to bring them together in a comprehensive exhibit to show the impact under one roof.

In one display, museum visitors will be able to step inside a giant brain and explore the science behind substance use disorder.

In video kiosks, visitors can see people tell stories of their own experiences with the disorder.

In another area, visitors can see the opioid crisis from a teen’s perspective through the adaptation of a theater production developed by the Young Actors Theatre called “Love Over Dose,” the story of a teenage overdose and its impact on friends, family and community.

“Museums are a place to have big conversations about ways we can all influence the present and future,” Cathy Ferree, president and CEO of the Indiana State Museum,” said in a letter. “Museums should broaden perspectives through real stories and artifacts, and they should also address the topics of today that are relevant to visitors.”

The museum is located just west of downtown on the Central Canal, at 650 W. Washington St. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $17 for adults, $16 for people over 60, $15 for college students with ID, $12 for children ages 3 through 17, and free for children under 3.

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