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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.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Day 5, August 25, 2006

My first day to post and it looks like we’re pretty much done with the site. We removed eight more ribs from the ground before we left yesterday, but nothing else. Brought the backhoe in this morning to explore what we thought was a hopeful perimeter area, but no luck. Nothing in the few pedestals we took down or a few other sample shoveling squares either. We’re bringing the backhoe in again tomorrow for one final aggressive scouring, but unless something really surprising turns up, it looks like we’re left with a representative of Peggy’s new species of legless, invertebrate mastodon.

Actually, a ribs-only find isn’t all that bad. This is my 8th mastodon expedition and the first in which we turned up just ribs (we did get a molar, both tusks and a few stray odds & ends). Every dig has its own surprises. At Gumz Farm we got feet & knee caps, but no legs. At Shafer, we got pollen & seeds (that was fun). At Bothwell, we ended up with, what, seven young females? Ron says that every dig provides another piece of the puzzle – another clue. Maybe some future paleontologist will put them all together to explain how the world worked 12,000 years ago. Maybe she’ll cite the data we uncovered and we’ll be famous in absentia. Would have been fun to find 80% here, rather than 20%, though. I like being famous now. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

Mostly, we’re a bit disappointed for the good folks of Marshall County. When I was a high school wrestler 20 miles down the road in Warsaw, the Plymouth Pilgrims were our mortal enemies. All these years later, it was still a little surprising to discover that some of their old athletes (and their sons & daughters) can, in fact, see their reflection in the mirror. We’d have liked to have given them all a little more of an opportunity to show off for their friends and family.

Ron says it’s about the SCIENCE, but he’d be the first to admit that it’s not ALL about the science. Some of it’s about hanging out with people who aren’t afraid to get mud under their fingernails and a little swamp water in their shorts. And, a lot of it’s about the new friends we have the privilege of meeting. Maybe it’s Hoosiers, or maybe it’s Midwesterners, or maybe it’s even Americans, but I think it’s just people. No matter where we dig; Crawford County, Grant County, LaPorte, Hebron, Plymouth, wherever, we’re always met with friendship and enthusiasm from the people who live there.

Two busloads of schoolkids showed up today and even though we didn’t have much to show ‘em they generally seemed excited to be there and their teachers were endlessly grateful for us “allowing” them to watch. Peggy mentioned the homemade peach cobbler and hot coffee after yesterday’s rain. Today we were offered copies of various photos people had taken and everyone always wants to know how we’re getting along and if we’re eating well and eating enough.

From dig-to-dig we never talk about Iraq, or stem cell research, or the relative strength of this religion or that. We do swap stories and (usually lame) jokes, poke fun at one another and get let in on the latest gossip. We know who’s having trouble with her new bi-focals, what 93-year-old doesn’t like the local football coach, which ol’ boys have stand-up reputations and which not so much. Science aside, we wish we had more to show them. We like them as much as they seem to like us.

I’m worn out. More tomorrow.

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