The land once belonged to William Conner who lived on the land with his Lenape Indian wife and their five children. When the Lenape left Indiana, William married again and built a large house overlooking a flood plain that became known as "Conner's Prairie." In the 1930s, Eli Lilly purchased the crumbling homestead and began using it for historical reenactments. In 1973, the museum opened as an interactive history museum where staff dress, act and speak in the time period they portray.
Conner Prairie is located at 13400 Allisonville Road in Fishers. Operating hours differ during different times of the year. May-October, hours are 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesday - Sunday and the museum is closed on Mondays except for Memorial Day and Labor Day. November - March, hours are 10 a.m - 3 p.m. In April, Conner Prairie is open Thursday - Sunday from 10 a.m - 5 p.m. The outdoor grounds are closed November 1 - March. Admission into the museum is $15 for adults, $14 for seniors 65+, $10 for youth 2-12 and free for members and youth under 2 during March 31 - October 31. When the outdoor grounds are closed, the museum admission is less. November - March 30, admission is $7 for adults, $67 for youth 2-12 and free for members and youth under 2. Parking is always free. Customer service can be reached at 317-776-6006.
When you arrive at Conner Prairie, the first thing you see is the Welcome Center. Here is where you purchase tickets and enter the museum. Indoors,there are three main areas to explore. This includes Discovery Station, a play a learning area for kids, Science Lab, which features changing experiments and Craft Corner, where new activities are offered every week. Outdoors, there are five separate areas to explore, taking visitors into different time periods in Indiana history. Throughout the year, Conner Prairie hosts many special events. Some of the most popular include The Headless Horseman, Glorious Fourth, Follow the North Star, Country Fair and much more!
Every day, there's something happening at Conner Prairie. Explore the historic buildings and talk to the Conner Prairie "residents" about their lives there. Play in the schoolyard with children at recess or watch the blacksmith make handcrafted tools. Make your own wax candle and watch wool being spun. This is just a small amount of things you can expect. Here's a breakdown of the permanent exhibits:
- Lenape Indian Camp
- Conner's Prairie's earliest historic area, the Lenape Indian camp allows museum visitors to dance to the sound of the water drum and gourd rattle. Learn how the Lenape, or Delaware Indians lived their every day lives, throw a tomahawk and talk to a fur trader. You can even learn how to pack a saddle for a long journey!
- 1836 Prairietown
- The year is 1836 and Prairietown is bustling with activity. Help with chores, visit the general store or spend some time at the schoolhouse. Visit with the towns people and discover what life was like in the 1830's in Indiana.
- William Conner Homestead and Animal Encounters Barn
- Go back in time and explore the life of William Conner as you visit his homestead. The house was the first brick home in central Indiana. Visit with Conner Prairie's livestock at the Animal Encounters Barn. Get up close and personal to the sheep, cows, goats and chickens. There, you can groom the animals, pet them and talk to the experts about caring for the animals. Watch weavers work at the Loom House and view beautiful flowers in the homestead's heirloom gardens.
- 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana
- 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana is the newest exhibit at Conner Prairie. Experience the sounds and excitement of Indiana's brush with the Civil War, defending itself against Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and his raiders. Talk to the citizens and learn about their fears and concerns through this multi-media exhibit. This exhibit also includes a new indoor-outdoor play area for younger children, complete with water cannons and a play steamboat and trading post.
- 1859 Balloon Voyage
- Open between March 31 through October 31, discover the future of manned flight in the 1859 Balloon Voyage exhibit. Learn about the inspiration behind the balloon flight and take a journey on a balloon - 350 feet above the prairie.
Cafe on the Common is located next to 1859 Balloon Voyage outdoors. They offer a variety of sandwiches and snacks including deli sandwiches, fresh salads, gourmet pretzels, pizza flats, frozen custard, warm apple dumpings and more.
If you'd like to bring a bit of the prairie home with you, there here are three places you can shop. Located in the Welcome Center is the Conner Prairie Store. The store offers unique gifts, books, games, toys, locally produced foods and much more! The Depot Store is located inside the 1863 Civil War Journey exhibit. There, you can purchase civil war clothing, books, games and toys. And the Apple Store, located to the right of the Welcome Center, is open September through November. The store specializes in all goodies apple, including bushels of Indiana apples, slushies, caramel applies and much more.