Conner Prairie receives national award from American Alliance of Museums for reimagined William Conner House exhibit


    Duane Brodt
    Director of Public Relations
    Conner Prairie
    (800) 966-1836

    FISHERS, Ind. (Wednesday, May 10, 2017/Conner Prairie) – Conner Prairie has received national recognition for the revitalization and reinterpretation of the museum’s longest-running exhibit. 

    Monday, during its annual meeting in St. Louis, the American Alliance of Museums honored the museum with an Excellence in Exhibition award, one of only five issued to museums across the country. The award recognizes the design, development and implementation of William Conner House, which reopened to the public last year after new interactive and media experiences were installed.

    The historic home, which was built nearly 200 years ago, was first opened to the public by Eli Lilly in 1934. Since, it has undergone several renovations both inside and out. Most recently, new visitor experiences were installed in the exhibit from November 2015 to March 2016 as an official Indiana Bicentennial Legacy project.

    “William Conner House now strikes a careful balance between offering the kinds of interactive elements and activities that are common to museum exhibitions while maintaining a period-appropriate domestic look and feel as one would expect for a historic home,” said Brian Mancuso, Conner Prairie’s director of exhibits. “We worked with museum artisans, historic trades specialists and local artists to produce elements for the home that both communicate content and fit with the historical and domestic environment.”

    This award from the American Alliance of Museums is the latest of national honors and accolades Conner Prairie has received in recent years. The museum has received the national medal from Institute for Museum and Library Services, the top honor a museum can receive. The National Science Foundation awarded a $2.3 million grant to Conner Prairie to create a STEM-based exhibit with interpretive programming that debuted in 2014.

    Additionally, Conner Prairie, which is Indiana’s first Smithsonian-affiliated museum, was named a magnetic museum in the book, “Magnetic: The Art and Science of Engagement,” and has been cited as as one of most-visited outdoor museums in the nation by the Outdoor History Museum Forum.

    Judges noted that Conner Prairie’s exhibit team “made great use of interactive media throughout William Conner House for reinterpretation, which encourages visitors to be part of the experience of a historic house through multiple engagement strategies.”

    The recent changes in William Conner House were made possible with grant support from Lilly Endowment Inc., Hamilton County Tourism, Indianapolis Garden Club and the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.

    Since 1906, the American Alliance of Museums has helped develop standards and best practices, gather and share knowledge and provide advocacy on issues of concern to the country’s museum community. The organization represents more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions and corporate partners serving the museum field.

    Spanning nearly 1,000 wooded acres in central Indiana, Conner Prairie welcomes nearly 400,000 visitors of all ages annually. As Indiana’s first Smithsonian Institute affiliate, Conner Prairie offers various outdoor, historically themed destinations and indoor experiential learning spaces that combine history and art with science, technology, engineering and math to offer an authentic look into history that shapes society today.


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    Conner Prairie’s mission is to inspire curiosity and foster learning about Indiana by providing engaging, individualized and unique experiences. Created by Eli Lilly in 1934, Conner Prairie combines history with science, technology, engineering and math and encourages visitors to explore Indiana’s natural and cultural heritage through hands-on, immersive and interactive experiences. Inspiring visitors of all ages to discover more about the events, discoveries and forces that shaped the American Midwest, Conner Prairie offers various historically themed, indoor and outdoor experience areas throughout its nearly 1,000 acres of wooded property in Fishers, Ind. Indiana’s first Smithsonian Institute Affiliate and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, Conner Prairie is a 501(c)3, non-profit organization that relies on grants and philanthropic donations from corporations and individuals for sustainability and growth. Visit connerprairie.org or call (800) 966-1836 for admission dates, hours, ticket prices and opportunities to donate and volunteer. Conner Prairie is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Flickr and YouTube.