Indianapolis-based private foundation that supports arts, education, history awards $400,000 grant to Conner Prairie for indoor climate improvements
Director of Public Relations
FISHERS, Ind. (Monday, Nov. 7, 2016/Conner Prairie) – The board of directors of Indianapolis-based Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation has awarded Conner Prairie a $400,000 grant for a capital improvement project that will position the museum for long-term energy efficiency and reduction of its carbon footprint.
Several aging HVAC air-handling units will be replaced with new, high-efficiency ones by mid-2017, with work starting early next year. The cooling and heating improvements, according to contractor Peine Engineering Co., will reduce the system’s annual operating cost by 65 percent.
“Our Welcome Center will be more energy efficient and these upgrades will enable us to better control our indoor climate for our members, visitors and employees,” said Conner Prairie President and CEO Norman Burns. “Conner Prairie welcomes nearly 390,000 visitors annually and exists today as a vital community resource. We truly thank the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation for its generous support.”
Conner Prairie’s Welcome Center, a two-floor, 74,000-square-foot structure located at 13400 Allisonville Road in Fishers, Ind., was built in 1988. Today, it houses administrative offices, guest services, three exhibits that are open year round, classrooms, a theater, meeting and conference spaces and a retail store.
Indoor climate conditions must meet strict requirements for Conner Prairie to take full advantage of its status as an official affiliate with the Smithsonian. Once these improvements are made, the museum will be better equipped to accept and care for Smithsonian-loaned artifacts and exhibits.
“This grant will help ensure that Conner Prairie will be part of the central Indiana community for generations to come. This will be a prudent investment that will help ensure our long-term sustainability,” Burns said. “Dollars currently used annually for basic infrastructure replacements will be directed toward more strategic, long-term growth opportunities, such as fundraising and youth summer camps, which are two of the museum’s high-performing revenue generators.”
Conner Prairie was created in 1934 by Eli Lilly. Today, it combines history with science, technology, engineering and math to encourage visitors to explore Indiana’s natural and cultural heritage through hands-on, immersive and interactive experiences. Spanning 800 wooded acres in central Indiana, the museum welcomes nearly 390,000 visitors of all ages annually and offers various outdoor, historically themed destinations and indoor experiential learning spaces.
The museum has won the National Medal from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, received a $2.3 million grant from National Science Foundation, was named a top, high-performance museum in “Magnetic: The Art and Science of Engagement” and named one of most-visited outdoor museums in the nation by the Outdoor History Museum Forum.
The Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, a private foundation, was established by Allen W. Clowes, a leading philanthropist who during his life made major contributions to various charitable organizations that promoted or preserved fine arts, music, literature, education, science and history. Most of these organizations are located in central Indiana. For more, visit AWClowesCF.org.
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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 800 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, Flickr and YouTube.