The Hoosier Harvest: Family, Food & Fun

Amazing Maize in Indiana

You probably already know that Indiana is one of the top agricultural states in the U.S. In fact, it’s in the top five for the production of corn, soybeans, popcorn, tomatoes, peppermint, chicken eggs, ducks and ice cream. In Indiana, there are a total of 61,000 farms adding up to 14.7 million acres. So, this October, the Indiana State Museum invites Hoosiers to relish in the bountiful harvest of Indiana’s rich soil through sampling events, workshops, hands-on activities and food.

 The Hoosier Harvest event, lasting throughout the month of October, has special weekend events and on going daily activities for the entire family that dive into the rich and diverse agricultural heritage through conversing with area urban and rural farmers, growing, processing and canning own food and learning the history of farming in Indiana.

 Weekend events include the Harvest Jubilee, Oct. 1 through 3, which features “Bodacious Gourd Birdhouses” that you can make and take.   Oct. 9 and 11 is the Crocked, Sauced and Pickled event (including a workshop where you can make refrigerator pickles); and Oct. 16 and 17 is the Urban Fresh event, with composting and rain barrel workshops and a Farmer’s Chic Buffet.

 For more information about this fun-for-all celebration,  call 317.232.1637 or visit

Contributed by Chris Della Rocco, Indiana State Museum.


The Naturalist’s Lab needs you!

by Karine Huys, Coordinator of Volunteer Services

Coral reefs and crochet, photomicrography, and animal noises! It’s an exciting time to be a volunteer in the R.B. Annis Naturalist’s Lab here at the Indiana State Museum.

Just outside the door in the Ancient Seas gallery The Indiana Reef has opened. A coral reef in landlocked Indiana? Absolutely! Volunteer crocheters from across Indiana have created all aspects of a real coral reef. The Lab volunteers can answer questions about the reef, talk to people about the fossilized remains of the real coral reefs that used to be in Indiana or just enjoy the view through the large glass wall.

A new videomicroscope has been installed in the Naturalist’s Lab! With this microscope guests (and volunteers) can capture images of items at the microscopic level and then e-mail the images to their home e-mail. I was just downstairs explaining the process to today’s volunteer and we captured a microscopic view of the fossilized coral! 

Of course, guests can still mimic animal calls and replay them over the loudspeaker, try to figure out the difference between mastodont tusk and bone, and all the other great things always going on. And lots of volunteers have been reporting great interaction with guests visiting Indianapolis from different countries.

Join us as a Naturalist’s Lab volunteer — find the crab in the Reef, take a microscopic picture of your hand and make new friends … what more could you want?! More information about volunteering is available on the museum webpage at

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Smoking is bad for the complexion!

by Gaby Kienitz, Textile Conservator

The infamous smoking boudoir doll from the museum’s collection needed an extreme makeover before she was ready for her debut in the recently opened Odd Indiana exhibition.

While she’s been successfully holding the same cigarette in her mouth for more than 80 years, she didn’t manage to hold onto her original good looks. I wonder sometimes what happened to her in the years before she was donated to the museum; why she came here in such terrible condition. Like the movie, Toy Story or the book, The Velveteen Rabbit, I imagine a secret and difficult life for our doll. Was she shut in an attic, left exposed to the heat of summer and the cold of the winter?

The result of her secret past life was not pretty. She was grimy overall. There is a network of deep cracks throughout her entire body, even under her hair. Worse, the “skin” of her legs had split vertically down the center of each leg and curled back. Most noticeable, however, was that her face was missing nearly half of the original paint and the surface below was cracked and embedded with grime. 

Getting the smoking doll ready for exhibition was not going to be a quick fix. Attempting gentle cleaning of her face using a tiny swab dampened with water, resulted in paint flakes detaching. Before the doll’s face could be cleaned, loose flakes of the original, remaining paint layer were stabilized and reattached by wicking a consolidant along the edges and at cracks. Exposed sub-surface on her face was carefully covered with a brushed coat of consolidant, and the areas with original paint missing were in-painted using tiny brushes under magnification. The new paint colors were blended to closely match the original colors and provide a seamless transition from the original, remaining paint, to the newly in-painted areas. 

The makeover was finished with a gentle vacuuming of her clothing and hair (oh, there was lots of dark grey dust!), hand stitched repair of holes in the front of her skirt, careful steaming of her skirt and attachment of a new waist sash.

Now she looks like she’s ready for her return to infamy.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

From shabby to chic!

by Jennifer Schoening, Sales Associate in the Indiana Store

In a day and age when most of us have to choose between unconscious consumption of material goods and the conscious acquisition of experience, there are more and more of us choosing experience.

You can now buy the experience of shabby turned in to chic at the Indiana Store!

Leather flower bracelets.

We would like to welcome life-long Indiana resident and artist Anita Hopper and her 3-year old company Refind Originals! A line of re-purposed old leather garments that have been transformed into unique one-of-a-kind bracelets, coin purses, clutches and headbands with vintage fabrics and embellishments. With a mission of being mindful of the stuff we consume, Anita has taken her passion for antique and vintage shopping combined with her panache for sewing and quilting and has created these beautiful objects from items that most others wouldn’t even glance at twice! You can feel the connection between the artist and the item in every piece!

Memories can last a lifetime, so trade in your $5 Old Navy handbag for one that tells a story to its observer! Trust me, I know! I own two of her pieces and hope to add a third to my collection shortly!

Buy indie and create happiness!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Do you like puzzles?

by Elizabeth M. Scott, Natural History and Archaeology Preparator at the Indiana State Museum

When archaeologists and paleontologists excavate bones, sometimes they are found in several pieces or are so fragile that they break into pieces during excavation or processing. So, how are these finds identified, tracked and pieced back together? Why bother to mend bones back together? What do we learn from this process? It’s a giant 3-D puzzle!

Let’s follow a group of bones from the Bothwell mastodont site, a site in northern Indiana that yielded material representing seven individual mastodonts.

Pieces of jaw oriented and laid out prior to mending.

Paleontologists in the field found a group of bones. The characteristics of the bones and the presence of teeth led scientists to identify this clustering to be a jaw. They gave this grouping of bones a field identification number and marked its location on the excavation’s site map. Back at the museum, the material was washed, dried, catalogued and consolidated (saturated with a resin for preservation). After this, the preparator —me! — began the process of mending the material back together.

Many things can make it difficult to piece a bone back together. Material can be damaged or lost at the time of the animal’s death; or as the carcass deteriorates, pieces may be moved during a site’s development over time; damage can happen during excavation or laboratory processing. Also, non-fossilized bone material acts similar to wood in that it can warp and distort as it takes in and gives off moisture. This can dramatically affect the bone’s shape and preservation during a site’s formation, excavation and laboratory processing.

During the mending process, there are several ways to deal with distortion and lost or damaged fragments. The piece may be placed at an angle during mending, and there’s the addition of fill material to replace missing pieces and to strengthen weak areas. This takes a complementary blending of biology knowledge and art skill.

This fully mended jaw contains 80 pieces.

But why bother with mending these bone fragments? Well, mending bone fragments is important for several reasons. First, it can assist in better specimen identification. One group of small fragments originally listed simply as “vertebra?” can now more accurately be identified as “third or fourth cervical vertebra.” Second, it can reveal better biological information. Only after mending was it possible to determine that one of the five jaws recovered from the site was from a fully mature older adult. Third, it means fewer fragments to track in storage. The jaw in our example is now one large item and not 80 individual ones. Finally, it can give us clues about site formation processes and the relationships between different bones and individuals found across the site. The jaw in our example was constructed of fragments from two different areas of the site.

Check out this video from the Bothwell site.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

The Turner Garden

Contributed by Donovan Miller, Master Gardener and Museum Volunteer

Just in front of the museum, above the parking garage and out along Washington Street is the Turner Garden, a small green space you may never have noticed. But as you drive down the parking ramp, catch a glimpse of flowering plants above and beside you. This is the Turner Garden presently designated as “Wildflower Meadow.”

Over the spring and summer a group of volunteers began renovation to update the plot. The goal is to replicate a Midwest prairie — typical of the grasslands of the Great Plains. Devoid of trees, this area will feature native grasses and forbs (prairie flowers) in an approximate ratio of 50/50 grasses and flowers. The project is being attacked in sections with an eye to completion in four years.

The plan to make changes in the garden arose with the recognition that two species of plants, Rosinweed and Bee Balm, were becoming dominant in the plot. Without attention it appeared that we would gradually see only a tall yellow flowering plant, Rosinweed, and the violet of Bee Balm. Though attractive native plants, these were crowding out the brilliant orange of Butterfly Weed, the white flowers and bluish foliage of Wild Indigo and many other natives. Installation of the first section is now complete. Note photos for a contrasting view before and after renovation.

An inviting wood-chip path has been cut through the growth to give up-close access to the plants, insect and bird life. This time of year the goldfinches and other seeding-eating birds are in profusion. The pollinating bees and other insects are everywhere to be viewed at a safe distance. Come take a walk, see all the color and fauna activity along the path. You may catch a glimpse of a mouse scurrying across the path. Lift your eyes to the museum roof where a resident red-tailed hawk may be waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting rodent. In the center of the city, at the Indiana State Museum, lives this vibrant slice of nature … a true respite from the bustle of the city.

What is it?!?

by Sarah Boutwell, Museum Store Sales Associate

Check out this unbelievable creature! Does it remind you of something from the Kevin Bacon movie Tremors

Fossils of this unidentified species were found in a cave in Quilpie, Australia. Several experts have examined this “worm-like” creature and its young ones, but have yet to determine the species. Some of the fossils we sell at our store are from the same cave and are thought to be sponges that inhabited the same living space. What’s truly amazing about these fossils is that they are filled with opal! When held under light, you can see the beautiful colors of the opal shining through the rust colored rock exterior.

The Indiana Store at the Indiana State Museum now has an entire wall dedicated to fossils, rocks and minerals! Many of them are from Indiana and the surrounding states, but we also have some of the rarest fossils in the world. Come check out these fossils and more at the Indiana Store today!

And don’t forget to mark you calendar for GeoFest on Oct. 22, 23 and 24!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine