The Indiana Medical History Museum: A Short Summary

NOVEMBER 25, 2015
Shirley Mueller, MD

The teaching amphitheater in the Indiana Medical History Museum is original from 1896.
Photo by Thomas M. Mueller
A jewel in the rough is being transformed into a diamond surrounded by pearls in Indianapolis. The diamond is the Indiana Medical History Museum (IMHM). The pearls are its surrounding acreage and buildings.
The IMHM sits the grounds of Central State Hospital (a psychiatric hospital) that closed in 1994. Until a few years ago, this 150-acre patch contained numerous buildings that were run down. Now, a renaissance has taken place. Old structures have been revitalized and are being used for student dorms plus other purposes. The medical museum sits on the periphery of these restored historic building and receives the benefit of this rebirth. It also is its queen, an imposing structure when entering the Central State Complex from Vermont Street.

The Clinical and histology laboratories in the Indiana Medical History Museum are original from 1896. Photo by Thomas M. Mueller
What is now the IMHM opened its doors in 1896 to provide a designated area for teaching and research to the physicians and students practicing at Central State Hospital. In 1956 classes were dropped but the laboratory for research remained open. By 1968, however, things looked grim for the historic medical building. Plans were being made to close the lab and demolish the structure. It was a group of physicians that saved it.
Happily, in 1969, the teaching and research adjunct to Central State Hospital became the medical museum known as IMHM. In 1972 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. There is really very little more that needs to be said about this extraordinary building. The photos tell it all.

A medical laboratory in the Indiana Medical History Museum original from 1896.
Photo by Thomas M. Mueller
The museum is currently on a capital campaign to help it remain the oldest freestanding pathology building in the country. More about that can be found in the Indianapolis Star article cited below.

Nuts and Bolts

Visiting hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. There is a tour every hour on the hour until 3 p.m. The address is 3045 Vermont Street, Indianapolis, IN 46222. The museum if under new direction with Sarah Halter as the executive director. The telephone number of the museum is 317-635-7329.

For more please see:
The IMHM on Facebook—lots of good medical stories
The Indianapolis Star Article
about the museum
Medical Museums Bring American History to Life
information about other medical museums
IMHM website—how to contribute to the IMHM capital campaign
An aerial view of Central State Hospital in 1931—shows the numerous buildings and large acreage

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