Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana Medical History Museum: Brains in Jars

Highlights include a real autopsy room and a room filled with brains in jars. Abby Normal!

Indiana Medical History Museum

3045 W. Vermont St., Indianapolis, IN
On the grounds of the old Central State Hospital, three miles west of downtown, between 10th St. to the north and US Hwy 40 to the south. Take either 10th or US Hwy 40 to Tibbs Ave., then take Tibbs to Vermont St., then turn east. The entrance road into the Hospital grounds and to the Museum will be off of Vermont, on the right.
Th-Sa. One-hour tours start every hour 10-3 (Call to verify)
Adults $10.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
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Indiana Medical History Museum.

Indiana Medical History Museum

As an avid fan of medical museums great and small, I never pass up the opportunity to make a visit to one part of any road trip. This one was a little hard to find, the GPS kept telling me I had arrived, but the actual (unguarded) gate was a little further down. A small sign by a nondescript lane was the only marker to announce the entrance.

The museum is set up in a former Pathology building on the grounds of the old mental hospital. From the lecture hall to the chemistry lab to the transcription room to the mortuary, the volunteer guides tell the story of each room and answer questions. The exhibits consist primarily of authentic rooms of furniture and equipment set up as it was when it was a working research facility. Most if not all the artifacts are original to the location, rediscovered when restoration efforts began.

There is one room of pickled brains, each with a small card containing arcane and sometimes baffling information more or less related to the slice of gray matter in the jar. Other than that, there's not a lot of grotesque anatomical specimens. No mega-colons, hunchbacks or pickled punks, just the "wall of brains" and a couple skeletons for teaching purposes. But overall a fascinating side trip, a great way to spend a leisurely hour or so for those with an interest in history as well as the sciences.

[Robyn Carozza, 07/20/2010]

August 2015: Photo added.

Indiana Medical History Museum

This museum, in the old Pathology Building on the grounds of Indianapolis's former Central State Hospital, houses more than 15,000 artifacts from the 19th and early 20th centuries. You'll see diseased human brains, antique stethoscopes, X-ray machines, and quack devices such as the "ultraviolet ray kit," once used to shoot electric currents through the skin to relieve pain. Medical Landmarks USA refers to the Indiana Medical History Museum as a "marvelous museum quite simply without peer in the entire country."

[Liz Joss, 11/05/2000]

Highlights of this atmospheric museum include the teaching amphitheater, the autopsy room, and a room filled with brains in jars.

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November 30, 2015

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