Local History Services staff are on the road a lot. And we love it. Ask any one of us (we have four full-time staff) and you’ll hear that we get a bit antsy if we haven’t been out of the office in a while.
On average, we are on the road at least one to two days every week visiting Indiana’s local history organizations, libraries and museums. For every trip we make, there is time spent in preparation. If we are delivering traveling exhibits, we work out schedules to determine the approximate arrival times at each location (because we often deliver and/or pick up more than one exhibit on the same day for efficiency). If we are visiting a site for a consultation, workshop, or meeting, there is more extensive groundwork to cover to ensure we have the necessary information and resources ready to share. And, of course, we map our routes.
Our travel days often start early. We meet around sunrise in our office, gather what we need for the trip (including coffee!), and head out. If we are delivering traveling exhibits, we make a stop at our fifth floor storage, bring down what we need on the freight elevator, and pack the cases in the back of the van.
As we set out from Indianapolis, we discuss the day ahead. We pass the travel time talking about what we’ve been working on lately, issues in the museum field and our personal lives. We are sometimes silent as we watch the sun come up over misty fields and forests and rivers; we smile when we see alpacas and horses and baby goats; and we laugh about funny billboards and odd sights. We drive through ice and snow and thunderstorms and rain and sleet and wind and sunshine. We follow major highways and back roads to every corner of Indiana. We know where to find the best (and the worst) gas station restrooms. We occasionally get lost, and we deal with any number of vehicle repairs, from flat tires to frozen windshield wipers. We see all of the beauty and complexity of the state, from cities to towns to countryside. And we never pass up the opportunity to sample all the variety of delectable foods that Indiana has to offer.
But when we reach each destination, the best part is just beginning. We are always welcomed by the warm and passionate staff and volunteers of the organizations that work to preserve Indiana’s history. Whether we are setting up an exhibit or presenting an in-depth training, we love meeting the people who are the keepers of our collective story.
Returning to Indianapolis at the end of the day, we are often tired and spent, but we are always fulfilled. Our Local History Services team is always stronger for our shared experiences. But we hope we are leaving Indiana’s history community a little stronger too, because that’s why we do this work that we love.