Every time the Darke County Historical Society unearths a new finding, there’s a good chance that the public’s first look at it will come in the exhibition halls of Greenville’s Garst Museum. More than 300,000 American artifacts fill the museum's six wings, many of which were discovered—or rediscovered, as the case may be—over the course of the society's archeological digs, genealogical research, and historic preservation activities.
Among the century-spanning exhibits, the softer side of sharpshooter Annie Oakley unfolds in the Coppock Wing, and antique cannonballs and Humvees speak of the wartime exploits of General "Mad" Anthony Wayne. Down on the first floor, a painting of Chief Tarhe, Grand Sachem of the Wyandots, presides over a collection that focuses on America during the 1700s but leaves room for anachronistic elements such as mastodon bones. The newest exhibit, "Diversity in Darke County: The Story of Longtown," celebrates local history with its visual chronicle of a tri-racial settlement in Greenville.
Aside from the main two-story brick Colonial home—which was built as an inn in 1852, according to Touring Ohio—the society and the museum maintain several properties of historic note. A free, self-guided tour of Bear's Mill and its 800-foot water channel can be capped with a cup of gourmet coffee, and the Lowell Thomas house provides insights into the childhood of the broadcaster and adventurer who once famously dined with the Prince of Wales inside an actual whale.
Crestwoods Frame Shop and Gallery protects clients' cherished paintings and possessions and displays work from celebrated local and regional artists. The studio boasts more than 2,500 types of frames, paired with acid-free archival materials and UV glass to reduce fading. The staff also restores old photographs and provides crisp, professional digital printing services.
Artlink, a non-profit, independent visual-arts gallery, showcases artwork from both emerging and established artists. Unlike many other Indiana galleries, it's not associated with any university or artist co-op, preferring to roam freely through the forest of artistic expression, harvesting the heartiest redwoods and capturing the most exotic birds. With an individual membership ($20), you'll get unlimited access to the gallery’s 16 annual exhibits. Currently on display, The Member’s Show features the work of Artlink members, and the Landscapes: Urban and Rural exhibit that opens August 20 will display pictures of area landscaping companies in action, shaping hedges, mowing grass, and winning the hearts of mail carriers.
Inhabiting the former Auburn Automobile Company's national headquarters, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum brings visitors up to speed on highway history through interactive exhibits and a collection of more than 120 cars from the 19th and 20th centuries. Six galleries of fine automobiles adorn the space, each with a different theme and rotating assortment of retro roadsters. The Gallery of Classics houses a 1932 Duesenberg Model J Murphy convertible sedan, one of only 32 such examples bodied by the Walter M. Murphy Company that year. Non-automobile galleries range from a Clay Model Studio and a Hall of Technology to the original Auburn conference room, honoring art deco ingenuity with classic built-in banker’s lamps and chalkboard sketches for a flying car powered by the sound of jazz trumpet.
There is nothing run-of-the-mill about Idle-Hour Ranch. With more than 200 animals, including 40+ species, the Iddings family's exotic menagerie has grown quite a bit over the years. Guests to the ranch can meet one of its most beloved residents, Sam the giraffe, or catch glimpses of mountain lions and peacocks. Open to visitors on the weekend, various attractions include a mini farm market, a safari-themed corn maze, and face painting.