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Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana Medical History Museum: Brains in Jars Team Field Report

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.
W-Sa 10-4 by appt only. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $10.
RA Rates:
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Indiana Medical History Museum.

Indiana Medical History Museum: Brains in Jars

Highlights include a real autopsy room and a room filled with brains in jars. Abby Normal! Report... [12/06/2015]

Visitor Tips and News About Indiana Medical History Museum: Brains in Jars

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Indiana Medical History Museum

We enjoyed our visit this past Friday. Just know that due to COVID-19, you must schedule your tour and pay in advance. In addition, you must wear an actual mask and not a random face covering.

[Brennon Hightower, 11/07/2020]

Brain samples in jars.

Indiana Medical History Museum

The 23-year-old who stole human brain specimens from the Indiana Medical History Museum has been sentenced to a year of home detention and two years of probation, according to various news sources. David Charles stole dozens of jars of brain tissue samples in the Fall of 2013, then sold them on eBay and his Facebook page, with timely pitches such as, "yo I got a bunch of human brains in jars for sale... u know u want one for Halloween."

At the time it was suggested that the thief could be a ghoul or even a zombie, and that entire "brains in jars" had been stolen by breaking into the museum, none of which turned out to be true.

"There's definitely some misconceptions about what happened," said Sarah Halter, the museum's Executive Director, who told us that Charles had broken into the museum's storage facility, not the museum, that he had stolen jars of brain tissue samples, not jars of brains, and that his motive was profit, not hunger for human organs.

As a final condition of his sentence, Charles will be forced to get a high school diploma.

[ Team, 12/01/2015]

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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