Giving to the Museum

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Dear Friends,


Just weeks after I was appointed Interim Executive Director of The History Museum, our country began feeling the crushing blows of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, Indiana’s governor issued orders that closed our museum for more than 12 weeks.


While closed, we became aware of a shocking statistic from MarketWatch, which reported that 90% of museums around the world closed during the pandemic, and 1 in 8 might never reopen. I pulled our museum team together, resolute we would not succumb to this statistic.


Under new leadership and with renewed energy, our team was determined to reopen as a museum far better than the one that was forced to close. Therefore, while closed, we accomplished the following:

  • Increased our social media presence, achieving a 15% growth each month.

  • Added virtual programs and archival photos on our website, with more in process.

  • Asked the public to share experiences during the quarantine by sending us their stories, photos, and artifacts, so we can educate current and future generations.

  • Deep-cleaned our exhibits, organized, sanitized, painted, weeded, improved signage, fixed, repaired, and completed countless other tasks.

When nearing our reopening date, we became painfully aware that all of our programs and events for 2020 were at risk.  After careful deliberation, and for our community’s safety, we cancelled our programs, group tours, events, facility rentals, and our major fundraising events, including:

  • The Annual Dinner Gala, our largest and most significant fundraising event of the year.

  • Music in the Gardens, an event that attracted more than 1,500 to the Oliver Gardens last year.

  • Mystery at the Mansion, which has drawn over 8,000 visitors in the last decade.

Today, I am proud to say our doors are open, and we are a better museum. However, visitation and house tours since mid-June are down significantly to one-third of normal attendance. Uncertainty is negatively impacting group tours and facility rentals, and we are prohibited from holding regular programming or large events.


Despite maintaining strict control of expenses, the museum’s closure, event cancellations, and reduced attendance have created a very challenging 2020 financial state of affairs for The History Museum.


We need your help.  Please consider making a financial contribution to The History Museum so we can continue the important work preserving our community’s history.

To read more about the CARES Act click icon.


Brian Harding
Executive Director

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