The program will support development of its new exhibit, Promised Land as Proving Ground, which will explore the experience of Black settlers in Indiana.

Dec. 1, 2021

(INDIANAPOLIS, IND – December 1, 2021) Conner Prairie has been selected by the Smithsonian Institute to take part in a new pilot initiative to support strategic community engagement initiatives that foster important — and sometimes difficult or ignored — conversations in their communities.

Conner Prairie — Indiana’s first Smithsonian Affiliate institution —  joins nine other Affiliates in this program, which will run in collaboration with the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. 

Conner Prairie will commit two staff members to the year-long pilot, which will focus on the development of Promised Land as Proving Ground, a new permanent exhibit opening in June 2022. Promised Land as Proving Ground will provide an exciting expansion of the Prairie Town experience, exploring the vital role of religion in the lives of antebellum Black settlers, who often thought of the Northwest Territory as their Promised Land.

A study by the American Alliance of Museums predicts that, by 2033, people of color will make up 46 percent of the population in this country. Conner Prairie is deeply committed to serving these diversified audiences with inclusive, representative programming that is highly accessible, telling more inclusive stories, and representing those in history who have often been misrepresented or underrepresented.

“Promised Land as Proving Ground is Conner Prairie’s first wholehearted attempt to address these disparities and reach excluded communities in an authentic and supportive way — and we know there is more work to do,” said Dr. Charlene Fletcher, curatorial director. “These are just the first steps in Conner Prairie’s broad implementation of DEAI initiatives. Support from the Smithsonian and participation in this pilot program will guide our work and provide a critical space to ideate with like-minded and experienced professionals.”To learn more about Promised Land as Proving Ground, and Conner Prairie’s other DEAI initiatives, visit our website.