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  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hall of Fame MuseumIndianapolis Motor Speedway and Hall of Fame Museum Indianapolis, Indiana
    The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum is the automotive museum that sits on the grounds of the internationally famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana; all intrinsically connected to the Indianapolis 500. The museum includes many other marvelous exhibits that include various forms of motorsports, general automotive history and passenger cars. Their 50th anniversary was held in 2006, and the museum houses many of the winning cars of the race. The first museum here was finished in 1956, on the southwest corner of the park, just outside of the first turn of the famous oval track, at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street. Included is the 1911 Indy 500 winning car driven by Ray Harroun, as well as other vehicles; Karl Kizer becoming the first curator, and it opened with only 6 cars. Just a few years later, there were dozens, including collector cars, that had been donated or acquired. But it wasn't long before all involved realized that it was too small and would require more space soon. It wouldn't be until 1975, that the speedway broke ground on the new 96,000 square foot admin building and museum; locating it on the infield of the track. It was a 2 story white structure made of Wyoming quartz, with the ticket office, photography department, gift shop, museum and administrative offices inside. It opened on the day of this country's bicentennial celebration; while the old building converted into office space. The entire complex was put on the National Register of Historical Places in 1975 and became a National Historic Landmark in 1987.  The original building was demolished in 1993, to make room for the multi-million dollar new administration building, with the admin offices and ticket office being moved from the infield building to the new one; allowing a bigger gift shop and other displays to be put in the old spaces. That same year, the parking lot for the museum held the first Indy 500 Expo during the race festivities; which became an outdoor interactive spectator display. Two years later, it was enlarged and called the Indy 500 Fanfest; but after two years of that, it also was discontinued, although lately, Chevrolet has sponsored many smaller displays and exhibits that have showcased former pace cars and other types of displays. Inside the museum, there are at least 75 cars shown that are rotated regularly, since there isn't enough room to show more, without crunching everyone together. The museum contains over 300 of the winning cars, as well as other Indy vehicles and racing cars from other venues. Some of the wonderful other items shown include; plaques, gloves, driver suits, trophies, helmets and more. There is a marvelous display of models, toys, photographs and paintings; with another that holds a timeline of scoring devices. The list of cars is huge, and very impressive, and can only be understood and enjoyed by going there. It is well worth the trip, or time spent there since this is a big part of racing and automotive history. 

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  • Children's Museum of IndianapolisChildren's Museum of Indianapolis, Indiana
    The world's biggest children's museum is located in Indianapolis, Indiana that was started in 1925, and is said to be the 4th oldest such type institution in the world. The building that houses the museum was constructed in 1976, and has enjoyed 6 main expansions. The place is full of miniature displays with resource centers for schools and visitors; and the main stairwell is really a huge spiral ramp that offers visitors access to all the five levels of the building, by walk or by using strollers or wheelchairs. Glass artist Dale Chihuly created a magnificent 4 story glass sculpture inside the central atrium of the huge ramp in 2006. It is called the "Fireworks of Glass" and includes a wonderful display of his glass blowing methods. The lower level had a marvelous what if? venue, but will be replaced within a year. There is also a planetarium in the lower level; actually the biggest in the state, that seats 130 people, a theater and the 55 ton steam engine that was designed by Reuben Wells in 1868 to overcome the state's Madison Hill, and a caboose from the Pennsylvania Railroad that you can see in the All Aboard Gallery. The ground level has a large courtyard, parking garage and parking lot. The entrance to the museum holds the North America's biggest water clock, a good sized gift shop and food court. A 3000 square foot branch of the Indianapolis-Marion County Public library was located here until they moved it to the second floor in 2009. And that space was changed to house a new welcome center. Besides the library on the second floor, the temporary exhibits are located here, with a permanent gallery called Take Me There. Their focus will change every two or three years, and the next phase will be called Take Me There: Egypt and will show the culture of modern day Egypt. On the third level, the Power of Children: Making A Difference, is another permanent display that has the exciting stories of Anne Frank, Ryan White and Ruby Bridges; and the impact that these children has had on the world. Story Avenue is also on the floor, with an African-American community shown, then the preschool play area known as Playscape. On the fourth level is Science Works, and the huge 1917 carousel. Dinoshpere is on the next level, which houses the newest exhibit of the Dracorex hogwartsia, a recently discovered new type of dinosaur.

January 11, 2011