Indiana Medical History Museum

Visiting: Indiana Medical History Museum

“Are you SURE you want me to drop you off here?” the Uber driver said as she turned left onto the road to the abandoned-looking grounds of the former Central State Hospital near the west side of Indianapolis.

“This doesn’t look right.”

But that is exactly where were wanted to be.

Central State Hospital, which opened in 1848, was originally known as the “Indiana Hospital for the Insane,” and the grounds sprawled across 160 acres. During the 150 years the hospital was open, people diagnosed with everything from schizophrenia, depression (melancholia), and hysteria to alcoholism, and epilepsy were patients here.

The hospital’s Pathology Department building, which first opened in 1896 for the purpose of studying the conditions of the hospital patients, is now the Indiana Medical History Museum.

Courtesy IMHM

It’s also the oldest surviving pathology facility in the nation. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. And it still has much of its scientifically equipped interior intact.

Courtesy IMHM

We joined a tour that made stops in the teaching amphitheater, various laboratories, the library, the autopsy room, and the early-day anatomical museum which houses preserved specimens–mostly brains, organized by pathology.

Laboratory – courtesy IMHM

Here are some more images from the museum.

Autopsy table


Love the layover: Indianapolis International Airport

All of a sudden there are lots of (free) reasons to visit Indianapolis.

The city has just opened its brand-spanking-new terminal at Indianapolis International Airport (IND), complete with free wireless Internet access, swanky shops and restaurants, and several million dollars worth of brand new public art.

Now museums, attractions and tourist destinations in town have banded together to offer free admission and other freebies, one each day, during the 12 days leading up to Christmas. The promotion begins Saturday Dec 13, with free admission to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum and ends on Christmas Eve with free admission to see Santa, a snow castle and other attractions at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. I have my heart set on flying in by Dec. 20th. That’s when there’ll be free tours at the Indiana Medical History Museum, which bills itself as the “nation’s oldest surviving pathology laboratory.”

(The “Anatomical Museum” room inside the Indiana Medical History Museum. Photo courtesy the IMHM.)

Here’s a link to more information about the 12 days of free events in Indianapolis leading up to Christmas.