Indiana Medical History Museum: Complexities in Telling Stories

Written by - Elizabeth Nash

Since the Indiana Medical History Museum (IMHM) was placed on Indiana Landmarks’ “10 Most Endangered” historic places in April of 2015, attention has been brought to an issue that museum staff and patrons have long been aware of: preserving this unique and irreplaceable building. The Old Pathology Building, now the IMHM, is not only the oldest free-standing pathology building in America, it is the only space left dedicated to the on-site interpretation of Central State Hospital for the Insane (1848-1994). In addition to its original architecture, the IMHM holds many original furnishings, equipment, supplies, records, and anatomic specimens. However, the once state-of-the-art pathology building is now crumbling due to severe damage and lack of resources. With the repairs and restoration estimated to be $2,200,000, the work needed has been broken into three phases. With the start of phase one in November of 2015, the IMHM still has a long way to go before the building is considered safe from endangerment. This organization must garner enough support in order make sure that it functions far into the future, providing hands-on experience for an array of students and professionals in addition to promoting an understanding of Indiana’s cultural and historic past.