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Event, summer camp attendance at Conner Prairie set all-time records in 2016

Special event and summer camp attendance helped Indiana outdoor history museum Conner Prairie achieve a record-breaking year in 2016. Check out more highlights from 2016 and preview what's coming this year and in 2018 by viewing our 2017 Annual Meeting, below.


Conner Prairie spans more than 1,000 acres of developed and undeveloped land in Fishers, Ind., a northern suburb of Indianapolis. The museum features eight, seasonal outdoor destinations and three, year-round indoor experiences plus the Conner Prairie Store, a retail outlet that sells items made at the museum and gifts made in Indiana.

Founded in 1934 by Eli Lilly, the museum offers seven outdoor destinations, five of which are historically themed, and two indoor exhibits that combine history and art with science, technology, engineering and math. The museum also features a retail store.

Conner Prairie offers special programming for toddlers and preschool-age children, a series of week-long summer day camps for youth, a robust youth volunteer program and special adult programming, including culinary events and skill-building classes.

Conner Prairie stages a host of community special events throughout the year, including Headless Horseman, Follow the North Star, Passport to Hi-Tech, Curiosity Fair and Festival of Machines. Symphony on the Prairie welcomes thousands of guests each season to a summer concert series performed by the renowned Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. The museum also features unique spaces for catered corporate events, meetings, weddings, family outings and more. As Indiana’s first Smithsonian Institute affiliate, Conner Prairie’s mission is to inspire curiosity and foster learning about Indiana by providing hands-on, engaging, individualized and unique experiences.

New in 2016
Treetop Outpost, a 6,000-square-foot outdoor experience nestled in woods along the banks of the White River, opens in July.

The exhibit features a four-story, 45-foot-tall tree house surrounded by areas that allow visitors to investigate nature and its resources, dig in a re-created archaeology site, build, create art and fill the forest with music. The exhibit also includes a connecting Nature Walk that leads visitors through the woods and along the White River to a prairie lookout.

Treetop Outpost is an official Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Project as part of the Bicentennial Nature Center Network, a statewide coalition created to ensure that all Hoosier youth have access to environmental education and creative outdoor experiences within 60 miles of where they live.

Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, Conner Prairie is a 501(c)3, non-profit organization that relies on grants and gifts from corporations and individuals for sustainability and growth.

Norman Burns
Norman Burns
President, CEO
(click on photo for hi-resolution image)

Jay Ricker
Jay Ricker
Chairman, Board of Directors
(click on photo for hi-resolution image)


  • Earned a national exhibit excellence award from the American Alliance of Museums
  • Awarded the National Medal from the Institute for Museum and Library Services
  • Earned a $2.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation
  • Named a magnetic museum in “Magnetic: The Art and Science of Engagement”
  • Named one of the top, most-visited outdoor museums in the U.S. by Education.com, Ancestry.com, Family Living Magazine and Outdoor History Museum Forum

Destinations and Experiences

  • 1836 Prairietown: Step back in time and join a bustling community where people, animals, objects and daily routines are exactly the same as they were many years ago.
  • William Conner House: Enter one of Indiana’s first brick homes where you will discover the story of William Conner and how Indiana’s history changed at Conner Prairie.
  • Lenape Indian Camp: Live like a Lenape Indian as you toss a tomahawk, climb inside a wigwam and try your hand at fur trading.
  • 1859 Balloon Voyage: Soar high above Conner Prairie in a helium-filled, tethered balloon and learn how manned flight moved from dream to reality.
  • 1863 Civil War Journey: Immerse yourself in Hoosier life during the Civil War and enlist to help defend the state from Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan and his raiders.
  • River Crossing: Inside 1863 Civil War Journey, children ages 2-10 can get wet and explore indoor and outdoor play areas and activities, including boats, Civil War dress-up time, climbing areas and water play.
  • Animal Encounters: Step inside the barn of a real working farm, where you can feed, pet and play with livestock while learning from their caretakers.
  • Treetop Outpost: A four-story treehouse will be the centerpiece of this new experience, inviting visitors to climb to the top and take in the view. Connect with nature as you walk along the White River and through scenic woods and prairie terrain.
  • Create.Connect: Design a new invention. Fly a plane. Create an electrical circuit in this fun, ever-changing indoor exhibit that celebrates Indiana innovation.
  • Discovery Station and Craft Corner: Create, climb, explore, play and pretend in a one-of-a-kind play area perfect for children up to age 8 that’s open year-round.
  • Conner Prairie Store: The Conner Prairie Store located inside the Welcome Center offers unique gifts, old-fashioned candy, toys, games, jewelry and more.

2016 at a Glance

  • $8.7 million economic impact on city of Fishers, Ind.
  • $22 million economic impact on Hamilton County, Ind.
  • $39 million economic impact on state of Indiana

  • 85 full-time employees
  • 72 part-time employees
  • 206 seasonal employees

  • 391,261 total attendance
  • 111,413 Symphony on the Prairie attendees
  • 50,808 visits by students, teachers and chaperones on school field trips
  • 2,199 youth attended summer day camps

  • 7,947 member families
  • 37,606 adults and children
  • 98,405 visits by members
  • $703,839 in income generated through membership sales

  • $2,196,666 total operating and capital support
  • $1,120,487 from individual giving
  • $243,311 in corporate support
  • $510,825 in foundation giving
  • $322,043 in government support

  • 645 total volunteers
  • 43,935 combined hours that volunteers gave

Audited statistics finalized June 15, 2017; updated September 2017

Download the 2016 Fact Sheet

Mission Statement

Conner Prairie’s mission is to inspire curiosity and foster learning about Indiana’s past by providing engaging, individualized and unique experiences.

Conner Prairie

13400 Allisonville Road
Fishers, IN 46038
(800) 966-1836