French Lick West Baden Museum; So Much History in One Place

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One of my favorite places to visit is a museum while I’m on vacation or traveling. A look inside a museum can teach you about history and some things you may never have thought possible. Each museum is different and unique in their own way and they are fascinating.

french lick west baden museum

The French Lick West Baden Museum‘s mission is to enlighten and educate visitors along with residents of the present and past culture by preserving that heritage. So much history in such a small space! It’s mind-blowing how much has happened there! Once you walk through the doors you’ll enter new worlds of illegal gambling, sharpshooting NBA players, mineral laden spring water, world class artists, and a circus headquarters…and so much more.

The French Lick West Baden Museum was opened for business in 2011, after forming a board of directors, business plan, and redevelopment. The museum now needed more the room to grow so the building went under a renovation and in 2012 was moved to the museums current location. The grand re-opening was held in June, 2013 and the museums entire 1,100 square foot space was unveiled. The space is a circus diorama of 1,500 pieces, making the museum home to the largest circus diorama.

Peter Gorman crafted and worked for several years on the scale model exhibit, the circus diorama exhibit took the museums team three months to set up. In the exhibit you’ll see the depiction of the Hagenbeck-Wallace circus, from the arrival of the train, parades, and into the dazzling show under the big top.

Although gambling was illegal in the state of Indiana, there are nine documented casinos but surely there were more from 1860-1949; that’s when the state stopped ignoring them. The exhibit tells about the characters that ran the old casinos and you’ll see relics from those days.

Pluto – a mythical god from the underworld found his way into the history of French Lick Spring Hotels mineral water. Tom Taggart bottled the mineral water that he sold nationwide for years. Pluto’s image could be found everywhere from soaps, postcards, menus, and even toy trains. French Lick West Baden Museum is the owner of the original Pluto figures. Pluto is ready for his close up, step up next to the full size figure and take a selfie for the road.

The Cross brothers – Henry and Ferdinand created and sold their pieces and work in a place called “Cross Cave”. Cross’ claim to fame was being a stone carver and Henry Cross’ claim was being an incredible artist. Step into their exhibit to see Ferdinand’s spectacular fireplaces and Henry’s magnificent paintings.

Larry Bird is a hometown boy of Indiana, one of the greatest players of the NBA got his start right here at Indiana State University before he decided to join the Boston Celtics in 1979. The sharp shooting Celtic forward lead the team to three NBA titles. Larry Bird was also awarded three MVP awards. You can follow Birds 13 year journey into the Hall of Fame and see where he got his start all those years ago.

These are just a few of the things that you will learn more about when you visit the French Lick West Baden Museum – they cover so much more over the history of this area, from pioneer times to current day. Make sure you take some time out of your schedule to see it all for yourself – you will be as amazed as I was! The French Lick West Baden Museum is located at 469 S. Maple Street in French Lick Indiana.

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