Wedding Belles

by Meredith McGovern, Art and Culture Collections Manager

Wedding season is upon us! As a guest, one of my favorite moments is waiting for the bride to walk down the aisle, wondering what her dress will look like. These days, brides are faced with so many options: strapless, one-shouldered, a-line, mermaid, white, ivory, princess, old Hollywood glam, retro, cathedral train, and tea-length; the list goes on! But what about brides of yesteryear? What look did they go for on their big day? Let’s sample a few wedding dresses from the Indiana State Museum collection to find out. Click on the images to enlarge them.

Are those dresses or elements of those dresses still in vogue? You bet! Count on seeing a full skirt, sweetheart neckline, bustle or tight waistline at a wedding this fall.

Where’s Your Snap-Link?

By Krystle Buschner, Science & Technology Interpretation Specialist

Photo courtesy of Value Added Promotions

I love carabiners. I use them all the time to fasten my lunch box to my purse, my water bottle to my backpack and even my car keys to my jeans. These handy clips come in all different shapes (the horse is my favorite!), sizes and colors, and can be used for almost anything.

Black Diamond Quicksilver Screwgate Carabiner; Photo courtesy of Extreme Gear

The carabiners that I use are essentially key rings; they do not lock and are not to be used for climbing. The expert cavers, on the other hand, need reliable carabiners to perform advanced vertical caving. Of course, this is only one small piece of equipment that is used when exploring caves.

So you may be asking, what do carabiners and this cave “talk” have to do with Indiana?  Well, for starters, southern Indiana is covered with caves because that is where the limestone is. Put simply, slightly acidic water dissolves limestone and forms Indiana’s solution caves (the one and ONLY trivia answer I will give away from our Underground Jeopardy cave activity — to win a key ring carabiner of course!).

Vertical Caving; Photo courtesy of You Cave

Now, what does all of this have to do with the Indiana State Museum? Despite the limestone on the museum’s facade, annual excavations at Megenity Cave, and the museum’s purpose to represent all things Indiana, we will have an event titled What’s Wild About Indiana Caves? this Saturday, Aug. 27 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy seeing live bats up close, asking your burning caving questions to cave experts, excavating dire wolves and peccaries in our mock cave, and posing in caving equipment in front of a green screen to make your friends and family believe you’ve gone on a caving adventure. Personally, I will be hanging out by the live bats as I’ve recently learned that, in the wild, they eat over 1,000 insects in an hour, including those pesky mosquitoes. Who could ask for anything better than that?

Toy Story

by Meredith McGovern, Art and Culture Collections Manager 

I promise this is the last blog post I will write about the Indiana State Museum photograph collection (for now). You can see my other posts here: Date this Photo and What a Beautiful Baby Boy … Ooops, I mean Baby Girl. I just couldn’t resist showing you these sweet portraits of children. Even though they were taken in different decades by different photographers, each child poses with a favorite toy. Click on the photos to see larger images.


Darling, right? I just think there’s something sweet about the common thread that is woven throughout these photographs of children taken over a span of 100 years — toys! Which toys appear in your childhood photos?

Calling all Hoosiers!

In 1861, in the wake of the start of the War Between the States, Abraham Lincoln called the nation to action to quickly raise an army and Indiana answered. Men of all backgrounds stepped forward to preserve the Union, many whom had no military training of any kind. These men had to leave their homes, families and lives behind to train and become a part of a larger cause, one that brought our country back together, but not without sacrifice.

2011 is the first of four years the country will celebrate the sesquicentennial (that’s 150 years) of the Civil War. Battle recreations and other events are happening all over the United States to honor this period in American History. Indianapolis itself has a piece of Civil War history and is a place that thousands visit every year. Ever wonder how Military Park received its name? This patch of urban landscape, then known as Camp Sullivan, was used to train and stage, or muster, troops during the Civil War.

To honor Indiana’s, as well as Military Park’s, role in the war, the Indiana State Museum is hosting Muster in the Park on Saturday, Aug. 20 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Get a taste of what it was like for both the men and women who sacrificed their livelihood for the greater cause of preserving the Union. Meet soldier re-enactors on the museum’s front lawn as they demonstrate the drills that turned everyday men into war-ready soldiers. Don’t miss a chance to get into the thick of the action by joining the ranks to see if you have what it takes to train as a Civil War soldier. See how medical practices created during the Civil War have influenced modern medical procedures. See how women adjusted to life without their husbands, fathers and brothers. Hands-on activities will help children experience 1860s life for children of the same age. And don’t miss Abraham Lincoln and other historical characters as they all give their perspective on the war itself.

Come prepared to watch the Civil War come alive!