Once home to the celebrated Hoosier poet, the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home welcomes visitors into a world of stunning turn-of-the-century splendor. The elegant Victorian revival house hosts informative tours that guide guests through the home of the man who gave the world Little Orphan Annie and the Raggedy Man.
1930 was a watershed year in the effort to preserve Indiana's state history. For starters, it was the year Julia Meek Gaar donated her personal effects to the Wayne County, Indiana Historical Society. That would have been enough to celebrate on its own, but then the Whitewater Monthly Meeting of Friends donated their historical Friends Meeting House as well. In the decades following those two gifts, local residents have filled out the Wayne County Historical Museum's exhibition halls with their own contributions, both small and large. When viewed together, these gifts paint a vivid picture of Wayne County from the pioneer era through contemporary times.
The museum itself consists of eight buildings, the most impressive of which is a log schoolhouse built in the early 19th century. These buildings house hundreds of artifacts from the museum's permanent collection, including everything from a 3,000-year-old mummy to a restored 1922 Pilot Speedster. More vintage rides grace the museum lawn during cruise-ins?just one example of the many events held here throughout the year. Others include a heritage festival and a haunted-house night, during which the aforementioned mummy comes to life and stalks visitors.
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.
More than 50 years old and 8,500 members strong, the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) strives to promote percussion through education, research, and performances across the world. To carry out this mission, the organization includes more than 50 chapters in the US and 28 chapters abroad, all of which communicate online via resources such as lessons, free practice exercises, and annual events. Each year PAS hosts the annual Percussive Arts Society International Convention—the largest of its kind in the world—in which exhibitors convene to showcase the newest developments in percussion technology, instruments, and publications. The convention also includes over 120 clinics and performances with lauded artists covering all genres and styles of music.
The staff at Art of the Soul encourages an inner examination of the self through artistic expression. Creative Spirit classes grant students three hours of freedom to delve into the process of creating art without the constraints of a specified media and models that refuse to pose in fruit baskets. During each course, artists adorn surfaces such as canvas, fiber, and metal work with eco-friendly materials to visually interpret the workings of the subconscious, and Picassos can take home their finished masterpiece after class. The program’s only goal is to inspire personal expression and build upon a love of art and a penchant for wearing smocks.