Conner Prairie is One Step Closer to Innovative Westside Expansion Project


The Carmel Plan Commission issued a favorable recommendation of Conner Prairie’s rezoning request to engage roughly 280 acres of land on the Museum’s westside property, moving the request to Carmel City Council for consideration.

CARMEL, Ind. — (July 25, 2023) – As a result of years of study, research and engagement Conner Prairie’s comprehensive plan to create innovative projects on the Museum’s westside property moves forward after a favorable recommendation from the Carmel Plan Commission Tuesday evening.

Conner Prairie remains committed to creating engaging, educational experiences for everyone, now and in the future. These specific proposed innovative projects on Conner Prairie’s westside property in Carmel have been developed in partnership with the White River Vision Plan to provide more opportunities for residents and visitors to learn about the history of the river and gain access for recreational and educational purposes while engaging more than 1,000 acres of land and revitalizing the 3.3 miles of the White River flowing through the Museum’s property.

“We are delighted and deeply appreciative of the Carmel Plan Commission’s passing of Conner Prairie’s PUD rezoning request,” Conner Prairie Foundation Chair Chris Cooke said. “Their approval of this request represents a pivotal moment for Conner Prairie and the broader community. With this crucial step now accomplished, we can move forward with confidence and enthusiasm towards realizing our vision of creating a world-class cultural and educational hub on the westside of our property as the request moves to Carmel City Council for consideration.”

The proposed projects, as outlined in the 2018 Conner Prairie Site Master Plan, are: The Food, Farm, and Energy Experience; the Land, Water, and Energy Innovation Center; White River Education and Ecology Center; a Farm-to-Table Restaurant and unique Eco Lodging opportunities. The proposed projects are set to revolutionize the way visitors engage with history, nature, and agriculture and bring forward best practices in the low-impact design of a cultural space.

As the proposed projects move forward, Conner Prairie will continue engaging with local stakeholders, collaborating with educational institutions, and working closely with city departments to ensure a seamless and sustainable implementation of the project.

“We have made a lot of progress as the Plan Commission has diligently considered Conner Prairie’s request.” Carmel City Councilman Adam Aasen said. “There is still more work to be done, but I am encouraged by the collaborative relationship we’ve created to create a great asset for nearby neighbors, the parks department, Conner Prairie and our entire community. I will continue to work to ensure neighbors’ voices are heard as this process continues.”

One of the first projects on the west side is the extension of the White River Greenway for Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation. Conner Prairie has demonstrated a commitment to providing access to the White River in a way that will positively affect the community and region at large by collaborating with Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation on extending the White River Greenway through Conner Prairie’s property, focused on giving the public access to the riverfront. Additionally, Conner Prairie is collaborating with Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation on shared programming elements within the White River Education & Ecology Center.

The Conner Prairie PUD rezoning request will now go to the Carmel City Council for consideration.


About the 2018 Site Master Plan
The Conner Prairie Site Master Plan lays out a vision and a series of projects for development over the next few decades. The Master Plan addresses not only new exhibits, buildings, access points, and infrastructure projects, but also plans for the green spaces: woodland, riverbank, wetlands, and the prairie for which Conner Prairie was named. The Plan is the result of 10 months of collaboration during 2017–2018 between Conner Prairie leadership, the Site Master Plan Task Group, the Conner Prairie Board of Directors, and more than 64 external stakeholders. In total, more than 225 people were engaged.

About Conner Prairie
Spanning more than 1,000 wooded acres in Central Indiana, Conner Prairie welcomes more than 400,000 visitors of all ages annually. As Indiana’s first Smithsonian Institute affiliate, Conner Prairie offers various outdoor, historically themed encounters 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. Conner Prairie is a 501(c)3, nonprofit organization – accredited by the American Alliance of Museums – that relies on grants and philanthropic donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations for sustainability and growth. For more information visit

Holly Pasquinelli
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