The Children's Museum History
1946—The museum moves to its current home at 30th and Meridian streets
1971—The museum is among the first two dozen museums in the country to be accredited by the American Association of Museums
1976—An expansion makes the museum the world’s largest children’s museum at 225,000 square feet
1984—The collection nearly doubles with Frank and Theresa Caplan’s contribution of more than 50,000 toys and folk art objects collected from 120 countries around the world
1987—Renovations begin, including:
- A 20,000-square-foot atrium entrance and Welcome Center
- The world’s largest water clock
- SpaceQuest Planetarium
- Increased classroom space and new galleries for changing exhibits
1997—The Children’s Museum received:
- A generous $40 million gift from the estate of Enid Goodrich establishing the Enid Goodrich Fund for Educational Initiatives to help share her love of learning
- The National Award for Museum Service from the Institute for Museum and Library Services for its commitment to the surrounding neighborhood and the Indianapolis community
2004—The Cinedome theater transforms into Dinosphere: Now You’re in Their World©
2006— Fireworks of Glass, designed by artist Dale Chihuly is installed
2009— Additions included:
- New Welcome Center
- Skywalk from the parking garage into the museum
- Installation of the colossal outdoor brachiosaurs
- Anne Frank Peace Park with sculptures of the Seven Wonders
- Improvements to infoZone and expansion of The Children’s Museum Store
The diversity of exhibits and programming at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis—widely regarded as the top children’s museum in the nation—is built upon the initial stewardship and inspiration of Mary Stewart Carey in 1925.
After a visit to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Carey was inspired to create a similar museum for the children of Indianapolis—a mission she was able to enact with help from civic-minded friends and contributions from children in nearby neighborhoods.
The museum’s first homes were a carriage house on the Old Northside of Indianapolis and the Garfield Park Shelter House. It moved into its current, permanent home at 30th and Meridian streets in 1946.
The Children’s Museum Guild was formed in 1933. This organization continues to contribute time, money, and service to the museum and created the museum’s first Haunted House in 1964, a successful fundraising event that still thrives today.
Today, the museum’s staff of 400 part-time and full-time employees welcomes more than one million visitors annually. The museum spans 472,900 square feet, sits on 19 acres of property, and houses numerous temporary and permanent exhibits in 12 major galleries, providing more than 4,000 programs and activities each year and maintaining a collection of more than 120,000 artifacts.
The museum’s commitment to the community is steadfast. Each year, museum staff members serve as eager consultants to children’s museums being developed throughout the United States and around the world while continuing to pioneer the museum and education worlds in the 21st century.