In June 1985 the museum opened Mysteries in History, an exhibit devoted to the exploration of history. To help visitors understand not only what happened at various points in the past, but how and why it happened, who was involved, and the consequences, the gallery was set up as a series of “now” and “then” sections.
Each “now” section emphasized a modern method for finding out about the past, with each method yielding a piece of an historical puzzle. Assembling the clues led to reasonable conclusions about the past. The “then” sections of the gallery were historical reconstructions of scene’s from Indiana’s past based on evidence uncovered in the “now” sections.
For example, one now/then pairing took visitors from a 1980s attic to a mid-19th-century homestead, and another used old photographs and architectural details to introduce an turn-of-the-20th-century Indianapolis street.
Mysteries in History contained several life-size recreations of structures from Indiana’s past that visitors could explore, which were extremely popular. The turn-of-the-century Indianapolis street scene—which featured a print shop, a bakery storefront, and Danner’s Clothing Emporium—was a favorite, as was the frontier trading post and the homestead, which included the museum’s 1830s log cabin.
Mysteries in History remained open until 2006 when it closed to make way for The Power of Children: Making a Difference.