We’re a destination defined by experiences and driven by imagination. At Conner Prairie, we are dedicated to curiosity and learning, and everything we do moves us closer to that end. We spend a lot of time thinking about where we have been and where we are headed. To help us move from one to the other, we've created a list of Reasons to Believe. This list — or what we're calling our Big Six — supports, sustains, and helps us further our mission statement:
To inspire curiosity and foster learning about Indiana's past by providing engaging, individualized and unique experiences.
We engage guests to become active participants in the stories of Indiana through hands-on experiences, programs and first-person interpretation.
There are plenty of places where guests get to stand on the sidelines and watch the action happen. That’s not Conner Prairie. We want each and every guest to have a personalized, engaging visit.
Our approach to guest engagement — which we call “Opening Doors” — turns guests into participants, rather than just spectators, in the story of Indiana.
More than a decade ago, we pioneered the Opening Doors approach. It was a landmark study that has helped us approach historical interpretation to international acclaim. Instead of just talking at our guests, Opening Doors makes them a part of the conversation. This guest-focused approach is now used by more than 1,200 museums and science centers worldwide, and it has impacted more than 26 million visitors.
We’re principally focused on providing young families with a new kind of learning experience, but have added more adult programming and our offerings also encourage inter-generational fun and interaction.
We recognize that our primary audience will always be young families, and we want to do the best job we can at serving that audience. We also acknowledge that our grounds hold countless exciting opportunities for adult engagement. We've committed ourselves to creating meaningful experiences with our adult programming, including Prairie Plates, our series of events that pairs a one-of-a-kind culinary experience with a unique Conner Prairie setting.
We have expanded our vision to focus on more than 1836 Prairietown (or your fourth grade field trip) and offer other outdoor experiences like 1863 Civil War Journey and 1859 Balloon Voyage – as well as indoor experiences like Create.Connect, Discovery Station & Craft Corner.
We recognize that other museums look to Conner Prairie for more than just 1836 Prairietown. They look to us as a leader in immersive experiences. They look to us for things like Create.Connect, which allows guests to explore the fundamentals of science, technology, engineering and math through Indiana stories. And when these organizations look to us, they like what they see. In fact, museums from California to Connecticut have adapted this exhibit for use in their own facilities. Craft Corner and Discovery Station are other areas that have always been popular with our members, and they played a key role in helping us become a year-round destination. Discovery Station provides wonderful opportunities for our young guests to pretend, read, count, and expand their skills and abilities while playing and exploring, while Craft Corner allows guests to express their artistic side, with revolving arts and crafts projects.
We boast an agriculture program with a one-of-a-kind live animal encounters experience and a rare heritage breeds program that helps ensure survival of historical livestock while also contributing to the thriving local farm-to-table movement.
Our agricultural program serves to preserve and protect a variety of species. It also helps educate our guests about the past and the future, as well as the farm to table process. Even our youngest guests learn lessons about farming and why it matters to each and every one of us — and these lessons are invaluable.
We are a Smithsonian Institution affiliate – the first one in the state of Indiana. This affiliation provides us with resources – including speakers, artifacts, and professional development opportunities – that ultimately benefit our members.
You might hear us mention often that we are Indiana’s first Smithsonian affiliate. We do this because it is a big deal to our community, and to us, because it is a distinction given only to the top 1% of museums in the United States. It means not only are we able to make history happen, with access to Smithsonian collection materials and artifacts, but that organizations all over the country and the world look to us as a leader.