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

Longtime interpreter recalls love of south’s railroads, people

Dwight Gallian has been an interpreter at Conner Prairie since 2000.

By Alicia Kelly
Just over the prairie and on the other side of the White River sits a home where one of Conner Prairie’s greatest storytellers and blacksmiths lives.

From catching bull frogs in the swamps of the Mississippi Delta as a child to working on railroads that date back to the Civil War, Dwight Gallian says he has always enjoyed working with his hands.

He took after his father and his grandfather by working as a third-generation foreman on the Illinois Central Railroad, starting in the early 1970s when he was 19. Continue reading

Staff networks with other heritage breed experts at international conference

There are only about 40 English Longhorn cattle, like the ones at Conner Prairie, in the U.S.

By Ephraim Rudolph
Three of Conner Prairie’s agricultural staff members recently attended the Livestock Conservancy’s 2017 Heritage Livestock Conference at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Agriculturalists interested in heritage breed animals traveled from all corners of the world to attend.

The working farm and agriculture experience at the museum boasts a number of rare heritage breed animals, including Ossabaw Island hogs, Arapawa goats, Tunis sheep and English Longhorn cattle. The Livestock Conservancy tracks the health and population levels of rare species like these, and measures their endangered status on a five-point scale from “study” to “critically endangered.”

Conner Prairie’s Arapawa goats and Ossabaw Island hogs are at the critically endangered status while the slightly less-endangered Tunis sheep are at a mid-level watch status. “They’re still on the endangered list, but they’ve hit bottom and since been recovered, which is a great sign,” said Livestock Manager Kevyn Miller, who attended the conference with livestock interpreters Stephanie Buchanan and Emily Nyman. Continue reading