A world-class art museum dedicated to Western and Native American art in Indianapolis sounds a little odd, and it certainly doesn’t sound very kid-friendly. But like its Midwest location, visiting the Eiteljorg Museum with kids is full of delightful surprises and easily tops our list as one of our favorite attractions for families in Indianapolis.
If you’ve never been, we’ve got some great tips for visiting the Eiteljorg Museum of Western and Native American Art with kids. Everything from planning your visit to finding out about special events and free days. Check out our tips below!
Tips for your Visit to the Eiteljorg Museum with Kids
Parking is underground
When it’s hot or cold or raining, it means you don’t have to mess with the weather. The underground parking garage services several museums, so follow the signs back towards the Eiteljorg Museum and take the designated entrance straight up to the museum. There is a brief outdoor walk once you reach street level (maybe 20 feet) but it’s covered. Bring your ticket with you when you go into the museum to have it validated for either discounted or free parking (depends on the event).
A Dedicated Kids Gallery
The entire basement is a hands-on experiential learning gallery for kids. Climb in the stage coach, dress up in western attire, build a sod house or your own family totem pole. This area usually isn’t super crowded and makes for a great place to let your little ones have some space to explore.
Create-Your-Own Art Opportunities
Also in the basement is a classroom space that we’ve often found open for art projects. I’m guessing this space is more often open on the weekend when school groups aren’t visiting, but it’s worth checking to see if you can pop in and create something. Sometimes there’s a volunteer to help, but other times it can be self-serve so you can create at your own pace.
Interactive Stations in the Galleries
Don’t think you can only visit the kids’ gallery. Almost all of the galleries on the first and second floors offer some kind of interactive spot for kids so you can peruse the beautiful collection of Western and Native American art while your kids weave a basket, do a puzzle, or assemble a tepee. On busier days there are also volunteers set up at tables or carts with artifacts that kids can touch as they learn about Native American history.
Related Post: Midwest Children’s Museums Your Kids Will Love
The Eiteljorg Museum Café
The Eiteljorg Museum Café is one of my favorite museum cafes in Indianapolis. Their food is delicious and fresh and they have a decent selection for kids too. Their Cactus Cobb salad and Sweet Corn Quinoa wrap are two of my favorites! If it’s a nice day, grab a table on the terrace outside overlooking the canal. You can also visit the cafe from the canal without paying for museum admission.
I also really love the gift shop at the Eitlejorg. The kids’ section is tucked a bit out of the way, so you can let your kids browse through books or look at toys while you check out the rest of the unique offerings without worrying about little fingers touching breakables. It’s also easy to skip if you want to since the entrance is off to the side as you exit the museum (unlike lots of other places where it can be a huge meltdown trigger as you’re trying to leave).
Special Events + Eiteljorg Museum Free Days
Throughout the year, the Eiteljorg offers lots of special events for families that make it totally worth combining your visit with. A few of our favorite include:
The Indian Market and Festival (Mid-June): A weekend festival that brings tribal artisans from around North American to the museum. Shop the beautiful jewelry, handmade pottery, and more, and then listen to a performance while you nibble on some fry bread. It’s a great option for summer and tickets include museum admission so it makes a great deal!
Jingle Rails (late Nov.-mid Jan.): This holiday train exhibit is a family favorite. Elaborate and detailed models of famous US landmarks, all made of natural materials + dozens of model trains. For more info, check out my Holiday Attractions for Kids in Indianapolis post.
Museum Free Days (varies): Throughout the year, the museum offers a handful of free admission days which are a great time to check out the museum. For current information, check out the Eiteljorg Museum website.
Looking for other family friendly things to do around Indianapolis? Check out my Mom’s Guide to Popular Attractions in Indianapolis for Kids for even more great ways to explore the city. I’ve also got the perfect downtown Indianapolis itinerary for kids.
Do you have a surprise museum in your town? Leave a comment below or post your questions about visiting the Eiteljorg Museum with kids and we’ll help you find the answers!