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Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

Located in White River State Park in the heart of Indianapolis, the Indiana State Museum is a wonderful place to find everything you never expected. Whether you are a visitor to the state or a life-long Hoosier, this world-class institution will allow you to explore Indiana’s past, present and future through artistic, cultural and scientific exhibits. Starting with the birth of earth and tracing Hoosier history into the 21st century, the museum offers an eclectic and ever-changing adventure. Constructed of all Indiana materials including limestone, sandstone, steel, brick and glass, the museum’s exhibit space covers 72,000 square feet, and the organization maintains a collection of more than 400,000 artifacts. From the soaring Great Hall showcasing Robert Indiana’s INDIANA obelisk to 92 pieces of sculpture representing the 92 Indiana counties, even the building itself is a work of art. The museum is the crossroads of everything interesting, educational and unique about the state. The museum's collection began in 1862. The new building opened in 2002.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Day 9, July 25, 2006

A.M. was muggy and still. Cicadas drowned out the cardinals and the flycatcher. Far off whistle of a freight train, an annoyed Canada Goose somewhere out on the lake, occasionally the sound of an industrious woodpecker. More flies buzzin’ around than yesterday. Shadows in the canopy of 2-3 relentlessly circling turkey vultures. It all had kind of a Steinbeck quality to it. Really felt like late July in deeeep southern Indiana. Humidity dropped in the P.M. and it turned out to be a beautiful day. We could use some rain. The spring that feeds the screening stations is running a little slow. Doesn’t matter if it rains or not when you’re underground.

As you can probably guess from what obviously had my attention in the A.M., I started above ground – catching buckets like yesterday. We did over 100 buckets today, though, so it was no wuss job this time around. An extra 20 buckets means about an extra 700 lbs. of lifting. We worked today. Lots of buckets is a catch-22. Psychologically, it feels good to be moving a lot of dirt – makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something, and it keeps everyone busy and warm underground. On the other hand, lots of buckets means you’re digging fast, which probably means you’re not being too careful because you’re not seeing anything in the dirt to be careful with. When a skull, or some such is found, bucket-hauling practically grinds to a halt as the diggers go to gentler tools and methods. Anyway, today we moved a lot of dirt.

Had the chance to do a little sight-seeing. Move a few hundred tons of sediment out of a cave and you create a whole new cave. There are 12 foot pits where paths used to be and a couple of pretty good climbs have turned into belly crawls. There’s a new passage from the Squeeze into the Wood Rat Room. Its only about 15 feet long, but you have to lie on your stomach, stretch yourself out to become as skinny as possible and take your helmet off and push it ahead in front of you. And, you have to turn your head sideways to fit. It all interferes with your light, so you can’t really see where you’re going. The passage bends a little to the right, too. It’s not a straight shot. Only takes a minute or so to get through, but it really gets your heart rate up. No one has to do it. The passage doesn’t really go anywhere you can’t get to by an easier route. It’s just fun to see if you can do it. I mean, come on, it’s a cave for cryin’ out loud.

Had to go up to French Lick after we got back to the hotel (about 20 country road miles) to meet with a collector who’s loaning me a movie poster for an upcoming exhibit. I am, after all, still the Chief Curator of Cultural History. I have to spend some time on my real job and not dabble entirely in this hobby. My friend Peter in French Lick is a real trip, so’s this particular movie poster (it was worth the journey). But, that’s not what this blog’s about. Maybe we’ll get to that story some other time. Anyway, it’s another late night and I’m exhausted (not to mention a little homesick). Looks like the hotel room situation worked itself out and we’ll be here through Friday. More tomorrow.

R. Dale Ogden
Chief Curator of Cultural History
Indiana State Museum & Historic Sites