Ellen M. Rosenthal - President and CEO
When my boys – now 24, 21 and 17 – were growing up, visiting museums and libraries was our default activity in between soccer practice, violin lessons, skiing, trips to the pool and playgrounds. Much like Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, where we lived for 16 years, offered a wide range of museums – from the Andy Warhol Museum with a room of floating silver balloons to the Carnegie Science Center with floors of hands-on activities. No doubt about it, I had a great time sharing experiences with them, but there was little time at the end of each trip for one of my favorite activities – shopping.
As I sat down to write this blog, I imagined that there must be mothers out there like me who love watching their kids discover and explore both indoors and outdoors – and, I would argue, there is no better place to do that in Central Indiana than Conner Prairie, but who can’t wait for the time at the end of the visit to browse. I dedicate this blog to them: My Favorite Things in the Conner Prairie Store
My top pick in our store is Conner Prairie’s own line of kid’s pioneer clothes. Responding to calls from frantic parents around the country trying to outfit their kids for school Pioneer or Colonial Days, Store Manager Elaine Molin, came up with the idea of designing and producing a line of simple, inexpensive authentic children’s clothing. Accomplishing her dream was not an easy matter. In these days inexpensive clothing usually means production in the Far East, but that also requires producing enormous quantities. Finally, Elaine considered asking Pen Products if they could help. Pen Products is a division of the Indiana Department of Correction. Indiana's prison industries and farms manufacture goods and provide services using offender labor. Its motto is “made with conviction”. Women prisoners sew our clothing line in small batches using materials we provide. We offer girls dresses in a glorious array of printed calicos with pinafore and bonnets. And, boys shirts and vests. If I only had a granddaughter to outfit!
My book choice of the year is "H is for Hoosier". Ostensibly a children’s alphabet book, it also provides a lovely overview of Indiana with pictures of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indiana Dunes, covered bridges and an Amish horse and buggy – among others. I sent the book with my youngest son Paul as a gift to the French family he will be living with this summer as part of Indiana University’s summer language program.
If my shopping insights are of interest or use to anyone, I’m happy to pick up this thread again in future blogs. Upon first consideration the topic may not seem lofty enough for a president, but I continually think through how the Conner Prairie experience engages every person at every age. I’d like to pretend that when I visit museums I am only interested in the art, the history or the learning opportunities for my children, but I know that isn’t true. I also can’t wait for my time in the shop to see if there is something unique that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Do some of you feel the same way? I’d love to hear about it.