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 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, Arapaw 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 Arapaw 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. Continue reading

Conner Prairie offers uniquely Indiana gifts on Museum Store Sunday Nov. 26

The Conner Prairie Store is one of 550 museums from throughout the U.S., 10 other countries and three continents participating in Museum Store Sunday on Nov. 26..

By Alicia Kelly
More than 550 museum stores throughout the world will be offering consumers a special shopping experience on Nov. 26. And the Conner Prairie Store is one of them.

Shoppers can expect a little more from the store on Museum Store Sunday.

The inaugural year of this campaign is inspired by the special shopping experience that museums offer their visitors in their one-of-a-kind stores. Museum Store Sunday is built around the idea that the shopping experience supports the missions and programs of each participating museum and cultural institution. Museums from all U.S. states, 10 countries and three continents are participating. Continue reading

Program for preschool-age children teaches what harvest season’s all about

Early Child Programs Manager Mary Uminsky teaches children the importance of harvest time during November’s Prairie Tykes “Happy Harvest” program.

By Ephraim Rudolph
Ghosts and ghouls came out to play in October. Gingerbread and candy canes swirl through December. During November, the month in-between, the autumn harvest is in full swing. It’s apple, corn and gourd season.

This month, children celebrated the harvest season during Conner Prairie’s “Happy Harvest” edition of Prairie Tykes, a program for preschool-age children ages 2-6. Mary Uminsky is the museum’s early child programs manager who plans and teaches the program.

“We’re going to grind corn, string apples and churn some butter,” she said. “We have a game with a turkey and bowling with pins that look like corn. We’ll even do a little weaving activity with paper plates and thread.” There are also harvest-themed snacks, crafts, singing, dancing and storytelling, she said. Continue reading

Nationally acclaimed Underground Railroad experience begins 19th season

Tickets are on sale online now for upcoming dates of Follow the North Star at Conner Prairie, a nationally acclaimed Underground Railroad experience.

By Ephraim Rudolph
Follow the North Star, an award-winning participatory theater program about Underground Railroad activities in central Indiana, is now under way for the 19th year at Conner Prairie.

The experience is set in the year 1836 and allows participants to assume the role of fugitive slaves as they escape their handlers and encounter an assortment of Indiana residents, both allies and foes, on their northbound journey toward freedom in Canada.

Follow the North Star is an invitation to step back into history and into someone else’s shoes,” said Michelle Evans, an interpretation program developer at the museum who led the creation of the experience more than 20 years ago. “People walk into this program knowing that they’re safe and that it’ll be over in an hour and a half. In that time, they do experience in some small way the fear, uncertainty and hopefulness of how it would have felt to be on the Underground Railroad.” Continue reading