Modern Campus

The Children’s Museum’s modern campus began to take shape in 1976 with the opening of the five-story building that is the core of its current facility. Over the decades since, the museum has added new structures, greatly increasing the space available for exhibits, educational programs, and special events. It also has expanded the boundaries of its campus, allowing it to add visitor amenities and help improve surrounding neighborhoods. What follows is a look at the changes that have taken place since 1976. To learn more about our historic buildings and grounds, click here.

1976 Building

In 1967 the board of trustees briefly contemplated moving The Children’s Museum from its home at Meridian and 30th streets to the former J.K. Lilly estate at Michigan Road and 38th Street in Indianapolis.

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Ruth Allison Lilly Theater

Named for one of the museum’s most generous benefactors, the Ruth Allison Lilly Theater is the oldest theater in Indianapolis dedicated to children’s theater. As modest as she was generous, Ruth Allison Lilly —wife of pharmaceutical magnate Eli Lilly ,...

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1988–1990 Expansion

Designed by the architecture firm of Woollen, Molzan and Partners, the museum’s first Welcome Center opened in 1988, marking the completion of the first phase of a $15.8-million expansion project.

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SpaceQuest Planetarium

Since 1989, the museum’s SpaceQuest Planetarium has offered a changing schedule of shows about space, astronomy, flight, and other subjects for children and families as well as school groups. When The Children’s Museum opened its SpaceQuest® Planetarium in 1989, it...

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Cinedome & Festival Park

When it opened in 1996, the Cinedome at The Children’s Museum was the only theater in Indianapolis capable of showing large-format films.

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Dinosphere Transformation

Although it was only five years old, by 2001 the Cinedome’s days were numbered. Lower than expected attendance—affected in part by the opening of an IMAX facility downtown in White River State Park—coupled with the ongoing expense of operating and...

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2009 Expansion

In 2009 The Children’s Museum completed the second phase of its master campus plan, the first phase of which had debuted five years earlier with the conversion of the Cinedome to Dinosphere and the construction of a parking garage, elevated...

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