Descendant of early Hamilton County settler has sole Christmas wish granted at Conner Prairie

Sara Wood heard many tales about her family’s 1847 journey in an old covered wagon from Pennsylvania to Indiana and always wanted to feel the wagon’s presence herself. Today, that happened at Conner Prairie.

By Duane Brodt and Ephraim Rudolph
On Thanksgiving, 89-year-old Sara Wood told her family a tale about how her ancestors relocated from Pennsylvania to Indiana in 1847 by traveling in an old covered wagon pulled by oxen.

Passed down through generations since built in 1797, she said the relic was a special family heirloom that she’d always heard about but never seen. Wood told her family she didn’t know where it is today, though she’d heard rumors that it might be somewhere in Chicago.

She told her family that she had just one Christmas wish this year. Her wish was to see that covered wagon herself.

That happened today. At Conner Prairie. Continue reading

Volunteer group raises $95,000 to support play area improvements, programs at Conner Prairie

Conner Prairie Alliance President Linda Tyler presents a check to museum President and CEO Norman Burns for $95,000 to support three museum initiatives in 2018.

Staff Report
Today at its annual meeting, an all-female, all-volunteer group that raises funds to support Conner Prairie announced its major gift for 2018.

Conner Prairie Alliance President Linda Tyler awarded museum President and CEO Norman Burns $95,000 to support three museum initiatives — $90,000 for improvements to the River Crossing play area inside the Civil War Journey experience, $2,500 to support the textiles operations and $2,500 to the agriculture department. Continue reading

Maker’s space now under construction latest step in Conner Prairie’s evolution

Conner Prairie program staff tested a temporary maker’s space last year, resulting in plans to build a permanent experience. Makesmith Workshop is now under construction and is set to open Jan. 11.

By Ephraim Rudolph
Now under construction inside Conner Prairie’s Welcome Center is a 500-square-foot experience that will engage people of all ages and skill levels to make, craft and create like never before.

Makesmith Workshop will offer opportunities for visitors to work with textiles, wood, metal, pottery and more. The space will host multiple making themes throughout the year which will change out on a monthly or bimonthly basis.

“The focus will be on one singular craft, tool or making theme at a time,” said Richard Cooper, vice president-chief programs officer at Conner Prairie. “The first theme will be textiles and the second will be related to woodworking. We’re excited to see where those two themes lead us.” Continue reading

New maker’s space under construction at Conner Prairie to open Jan. 11

The aviation section of Create.Connect (at top in photo) will be relocated and some other portions of the exhibit will be affected to make room for the new Makesmith Workshop.

Staff Report
Today, Conner Prairie’s indoor exhibit Create.Connect will close temporarily to the public as construction starts on a new permanent feature inside our Welcome Center, the Makesmith Workshop.

This new, 500-square-feet space will allow visitors to hone their skills while exploring historic making and trades through numerous hands-on activities. Staff will guide visitors through projects and help them acquire new experience with tools and materials.

The installation of this maker’s space will cause the reorganization of some areas of Create.Connect, which will reopen to the public Dec. 2.

Discovery Station, Craft Corner, the Conner Prairie Store and the current holiday exhibit Gingerbread Village will be unaffected by construction.

Makesmith Workshop, made possible by funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, is scheduled to open Jan. 11 as a permanent exhibit.

Play shares power of letters at Christmas between Civil War soldiers, loved ones

A new live play at Conner Prairie shares the power of letters at Christmas between Civil War soldiers and their loved ones. The play’s run began today and continues through this Saturday and Sunday, as well as four dates in December.

By Ephraim Rudolph

An original live play about the meaning and the magic of mail at Christmastime during the Civil War era, titled “Tales at the Holidays: Letters from the Civil War,” is now showing at Conner Prairie.

Bill Wilkison wrote and directs the play, which is inspired by the Thomas Nast illustration “Christmas Eve,” published in the Christmas 1862 issue of Harper’s Weekly.

Performances of the play began today, and will continue Saturday and Sunday at 12:30, 2 and 3:30 p.m. It will also run at those same times on Dec. 2, 9, 16 and 23. The play is free with paid general admission to Conner Prairie, and it is showing inside the Lilly Theater on the second floor of the Welcome Center. Continue reading