Indianapolis—It is the end of an era at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center. Saturday, Aug. 6, marks the closing of the Indiana Historical Society’s (IHS’s) fashionable exhibit, You Are There: That Ayres Look.
For more than a year, the exhibit has transported guests back in time through the iconic history of L.S. Ayres and Company. It has allowed guests to reconnect with fond memories of family, friends and a company that holds a special place in the hearts of Hoosiers.
“For many of them, it has been a rewarding but emotional experience,” said Robert Davie, who portrays Ayres doorman and elevator operator Lewis “Brownie” Brown. “Many visitors have commented that they wish L.S. Ayres would return, but since they know it can’t, this experience gives them something to hold on to. It may very well be that we will see a number of guests returning in the closing weeks. They don’t want to see it go.”
The exhibit will also leave an imprint on the actors who devoted more than a year to researching and portraying historical characters from the department store’s downtown Indianapolis location.
Carol Shaefer portrays Ayres Fashion Bureau director Elizabeth Patrick. She says the best part has been getting a feel for the fun, strong and influential woman that Patrick was.
“It has been a gift to portray Liz Patrick,” said Shaefer. “She had a great sense of humor, a big heart and an influence on fashion for which many today would be grateful if they only knew. I hope our guests are able to take away a bit of the wisdom and whimsy of Liz Patrick.”
For the remainder of its run You Are There: That Ayres Look will continue to tell the story of the company through interactions with its dedicated, costumed actors. Other highlights include video interviews with former employees such as managers and models, iconic images such as the Ayres department store clock and prized artifacts such as the cherub, which is on loan from Downtown Indy.
When the time comes for the doors to close on You Are There: That Ayres Look, the exhibit, much like the company, will leave behind its own unique legacy. It has brought to life the story of L.S. Ayres and Company for a new generation and allowed them to connect with a special piece of Hoosier history.
“Working in the Ayres exhibit has shown me just how special the downtown store was to the culture of Indianapolis,” said Erin Becker, who portrays Ayres model Bea Fatout. “Even nearly 25 years after it closed, guests can recall their shopping experiences as if they happened yesterday. Ayres was clearly a special place, and it is wonderful to see visitors relive those memories.”
There is still time to visit You Are There: That Ayres Look before it closes on Saturday, Aug. 6. The exhibit is included with admission to the Indiana Experience, which is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays. Through the end of July, guests can also take advantage of $2 Tuesdays and Free Admission Thursdays.
You Are There: That Ayres Look is presented by Ayres Foundation, Inc. and Nancy Ayres, with support from Nicholas H. Noyes, Jr., Memorial Foundation, Inc. and Lisa Carrington Bohn; Ruth Lilly Philanthropic Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. Peter Nicholas; and Griffith Family Foundation, Inc.
For more information on this exhibit and other ways IHS is celebrating the legacy of L.S. Ayres and Company, call (317) 232-1882 or visit IHS online at www.indianahistory.org.
About the Indiana Historical Society
Since 1830, the Indiana Historical Society has been Indiana’s Storyteller™, connecting people to the past by collecting, preserving and sharing the state’s history. A private, nonprofit membership organization, IHS maintains the nation’s premier research library and archives on the history of Indiana and the Old Northwest and presents a unique set of visitor experiences called the Indiana Experience. IHS also provides support and assistance to local museums and historical groups; publishes books and periodicals; sponsors teacher workshops; produces and hosts art exhibitions, museum theater and outside performance groups; and provides youth, adult and family programs. IHS is a Smithsonian Affiliate and a member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.