Each year, Native American Days draws crowds of 10,000–15,000 visitors to celebrate North America’s ancient cultures on the site of a former Mississippian settlement. After parking a car or roller-skating horse on-site, attendees can head to a performance area at the center of the grounds to take in traditional dancing, storytelling, and music, including performances by Estun-Bah, a musical group led by world-champion hoop dancer Tony Duncan. For an additional fee, a variety of workshops teach patrons time-tested skills such as archery, beadwork, and how to construct a drum out of a laptop case. Native American Days kicks off at 9 a.m. each day and lasts until 2 p.m. on September 23 and until 5 p.m. on September 24 and 25.
A quintessential example of Second Empire architecture, the Victorian–era Reitz House enchants guests with a glimpse of bygone American culture. Built in 1871 as the home to lumber baron John Augustus Reitz, the immaculately maintained manor lures guests with antique luxuries including period furniture, hand-painted ceilings, and steam-powered Nintendos. French gilt chandeliers illuminate hand-laid wood parquet floors and marble fireplaces, and stained-glass windows cast multihued mosaics on the ground in the afternoon. The old carriage house holds the museum's gift shop and visitors' center, where themed mementos await visitors commemorating first visits or last Jane Austen dissertations. Scholars also lead one-hour group tours starting at the visitors' center, guiding guests into the least known nooks of Reitz history.
One of Southwestern Indiana’s most established and significant cultural institutions, the Evansville Museum is a general museum with comprehensive collections in art, history, anthropology and science, as well as a planetarium and Transportation Center.
At the Adsmore House & Gardens, the story of one family has continued uninterrupted for more than 100 years. The old house and grounds, meticulously restored to their Golden Age glory, serve as a stage of sorts, where visitors can interact with chapters in the history of the Smith-Garrett family. They can relive youngest daughter Selina's wedding to Dr. John Osborne, and see the bride and matron of honor's dresses being readied in an upstairs bedroom. Or they can mark daughter Katharine's birthday by learning how a 6-year-old's birthday would have been celebrated in 1907. The exhibits provide a glimpse into the day-to-day life in another era, rich with stories of trials, tribulations, and triumphs.
Between AD 700 and 1400, the city of Cahokia gradually rose from the floodplain of the Mississippi River to become the largest city north of Mexico. Across 6 square miles, its population of 20,000 people worked together to create a thriving community grounded in astronomy, agriculture, and economics. To this end, they erected large, lasting structures such as an enormous wooden calendar that notified citizens about the changes of the seasons. Giant earthen mounds served as the foundation of the city and the site of the big mud fight that decided the mayoral election each year.
Through careful excavation, research, and reconstruction, the Cahokia Mounds Museum Society aims to preserve the site and educate visitors about its importance. During visits, guests on self-guided tours can explore 800 acres of the city, including the 100-foot-tall Monks Mound and Woodhenge, the giant calendar.
Though built as a private home in 1901, the Victorian mansion stood vacant for years—until its first children's hands-on exhibits opened to the public more than 30 years ago. Since then, The Magic House's curators have worked to engage children of all ages in learning and creative thought through a range of interactive multimedia exhibits. Their exhibits enable visitors to service cars, climb treehouse ladders, and go fishing in a child-centric community, or play with pumps and pipes in a waterworks playground. They can also climb a three-story fairy-tale beanstalk or use detective skills, fingerprint analyses, and secret passageways to solve mysteries.
Museum staffers also organize a range of themed birthday parties, during which attendees play and complete special tasks as time travelers, scientists, or fairy-tale nobility. Family programs encompass monthly visits from outside professional artists, and special events designed to get the whole family moving. Visitors can refuel for exploration at the on-site Picnic Basket Cafe, whose menu highlights whole grains and healthy ingredients.