Conner Prairie investing in programming changes, expansion

The master plan is aimed at leveraging the museum's strengths to create a new experience. | Photo by Conner Prairie + MKSK

If you’re a Hoosier, you’ve probably been to Conner Prairie for a field trip at some point — whether it was as a kid in elementary school or a parent chaperone. 

The living history museum has an eye for the future + is looking to make some big changes

The Present  

Conner Prairie has made $3.2 million in investments to improve the visitor experience and if you haven’t been there recently, you’ll notice some of those changes

Recent improvements include:  

  • Reimagined balloon voyage
  • Ag Adventures at Estridge Park 
  • Treetop Outpost
  • Prairie Mobile 
  • Adult Rec + Camp

Promised Land as Proving Ground is a new permanent exhibit that has partially opened on the grounds this summer. It’s part of the Smithsonian Institutes’ affiliate program aiming to expand the Prairie Town experience + tell more inclusive stories. The exhibit will cover 500 centuries of African American history from pre-colonial Africa to the present day.

The Future 

Conner Prairie’s master plan is aiming to change the landscape of the grounds to activate its largest asset — 3.3 miles of the White River and 1,000+ acres of prairie and woodland

The master plan includes things like: 

  • 2.5 miles of trails 
  • 6 miles of shoreline stabilization and wetlands to improve drinking water 
  • Up to four nature education hubs with evolving content

The long-term plan looks to Conner Prairie’s land in Carmel for some of the most significant changes, featuring a White River Education & Ecology Center, which will include exhibits, a citizen science lab, classrooms, multi-purpose rooms, and offices. 

Map rendering of Conner Prairie’s Master Plan. | Photo by Conner Prairie + MKSK

Upscale farm-to-fork restaurants, a boutique hotel, spa, and cabin site are also part of the plan, among other park upgrades. 

The long-term plan is still in its early stages, but is expected to total ~$80 million

Upcoming events 

  • Symphony on the Prairie | June 24-Sept. 4 | Enjoy a range of live performances from classical, pop, and family-friendly by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Pro tip: Gates open at 6 p.m. and concerts begin at 8 p.m. each evening.  
  • Glorious Fourth | July 2-4 | Visit Prairietown as it celebrates 60 years of American independence, and also hear how others have questioned just how free America is.
  • Throwback Camp | Sat., July 9 | 9 a.m.-11 p.m. | Experience Conner Prairie’s Adventure Camp as an adult with a “grown-ups only” day of ziplining, archery, camp crafts, field games, and summer tubing — catered lunch + dinner with s’mores and beer/wine will be available.
  • Jupiter Flights Balloon Festival | Sept. 9-11 | 6-10 p.m. | This hot air balloon festival features a live concert, bounce houses, and activities for the whole family.