Three southern Indiana museums to visit this summer
Howard Steamboat Museum
1101 E. Market St.
Jeffersonville, Indiana 47130
Tuesday – Saturday:
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Sunday: 1 – 3 p.m.
Seniors, Military, AAA, AARP: $8
Children, Students: $5
Just off the Ohio River in Jeffersonville, Indiana, sits a museum dedicated to the steamboat. Housed in the Howard family mansion, the Howard Steamboat Museum is a time capsule to the late 1800s. Built in 1894, the mansion has withstood flood and fire, yet the furnishings are still 90% original to the house.
Along with being an architectural site of interest, the museum contains many different steamboat replicas and items from a variety of famous Ohio River steamboats.
The museum tells the story of the Howard family, who ran the Howard Shipyard in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Started by James Howard in 1834, the Howard Shipyard became the largest inland shipyard in America, building more than 3,000 vessels running on the Ohio River in its 107-year, three-generation history.
The late-Victorian mansion was built by shipbuilders as a way for the company to showcase its craftsmanship even if a steamboat was not available. Since it was built at the end of the steamboat era and the end of the family’s fortune, the interior was never updated, leaving it virtually the same as when the family lived there.
While original furnishings are spread throughout the mansion, the second floor is dedicated to the steamboat. Visitors can view full ship models, photographs, shipbuilding tools and more from the steamboat era. Fans of architecture, steamboats and history will find something new and exciting to learn at the Howard Steamboat Museum.
Travis Vasconcelos, administrative assistant at the Howard Steamboat Museum, says, “It doesn’t matter what interests you historically. We have a little bit of everything, so you don’t have to be a steamboat fan to enjoy the museum.” Visitors will enjoy learning about this unique element of Indiana history regardless of previous steamboat knowledge.
Along with the mansion, the site contains the original carriage house, which was recently restored to allow the space to be a rental facility for various events. This allows the museum to be fully self-funded relying solely on event revenue, admission and donations.
The museum relies heavily on volunteers to tell its story. The friendly volunteers, many of whom have ties to the steamboat industry, are always ready to use their vast knowledge to answer any questions visitors might have. To learn more, visit: www.howardsteamboatmuseum.org.
Dubois County Museum
2704 Newton St.
Jasper, Indiana 47546
Tuesday – Friday:
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday: 1 – 4 p.m.
High School Students: $3
Elementary, Middle School
Located in the unassuming former Jasper Corporation factory building in Jasper, Indiana, the Dubois County Museum tells the story of Dubois County through a variety of historical items from photographs and letters from soldiers to farm equipment and a replica log cabin.
Since the museum is about a single county, one might think the subject matter would be limited. However, the museum, which opened in 1999, has more than 9,000 objects on display of its 41,600-piece collection and covers many different topics through the lens of Dubois County.
Visitors might be particularly interested in the large exhibits on sports, military and farm exhibits. The exhibit space dedicated to sports covers everything from high school state champions to pro athletes from the area.
In the military exhibition, visitors can read the stories of veterans from Dubois County. Visitors can walk through a replica turn of the century Main Street Village to view how people once lived in the area. Visitors with young children will enjoy the Little Pioneer Play Area, where children can play and learn about pioneers. Programming for children is also offered throughout the year. To learn more about the Dubois County Museum, visit: www.duboiscountymuseum.org
Mathers Museum of World Cultures
416 N. Indiana Ave.
Bloomington, Indiana 47408
Tuesday – Friday:
9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday:
9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
The Mathers Museum of World Cultures works to bring the world to Bloomington though many different exhibitions. While each exhibition is only on display for a limited time, there is always something new to learn.
The Mathers Museum began when Indiana University started acquiring objects and exhibiting them to the public. Originally the Indiana University Museum, which opened in 1963, the museum became the Mathers Museum of World Cultures in 1980.
The museum has a permanent collection of more than 30,000 objects and 10,000 photographs representing cultures from around the world. The collection is particularly strong in musical instruments, South and Central American artifacts, North African, Middle Eastern and Central Asian textiles and jewelry.
Along with many different exhibitions, the Mathers Museum of Cultures puts on many different events from speakers and lectures to interactive family events, so there is always something going on at the Mathers Museum. Currently visitors can enjoy many exhibitions including: “Echoes of the Rainforest: The Visual Arts of the Shipibo Indians,” “México Indígena” and “Sacred Drums, Sacred Trees: Haiti’s Changing Climate.” For more information on the Mathers Museum, visit: www.mathersmuseum.indiana.edu.