Guides

Arts and Culture in Indianapolis

Hotel search

Petrolhead or sensitive artist? Indianapolis’ cultural identity is impossible to classify in simple terms. History and futurism sit side-by-side; classical music fills concert halls while the roar of race cars fuels excitement at the Speedway. But Indy’s talent lies in weaving its identities together into one rich and harmonious picture.

 

Landmarks

 

Indy’s downtown is still the city’s cultural and commercial heart. It’s laid out with a pleasing aesthetic, with notable historic buildings and museums radiating from Monument Circle. This physical center is home to some of Indy’s most important and visible landmarks.

 

Soldiers and Sailors Monument

 

Dominating Monument Circle in the beating heart of downtown Indy, this towering obelisk was created at the turn of the last century to commemorate the fallen soldiers and the victory of the Civil War. At the base of the tower, there’s an informative museum, while 330 steps up is the observation deck – and incredible, panoramic views.

 

1 Monument Circle, Indianapolis IN 46204 . Tel: +1 317 232 7615

 

Soldiers and Sailors Monument website

 

Museums and galleries

 

From small galleries in the cultural districts of Broad Ripple and Fountain Square, to vast museums encompassing modern architecture and natural landscapes, you could fill a year just exploring Indy’s museums and galleries.

 

Indiana State Museum

 

Modern, angular, and glass-fronted, the Indiana State Museum is strikingly confident in its architecture, but it somehow sits well in its leafy, green surroundings. Inside, a wealth of exhibits cover 3 floors, exploring Indiana’s history and heritage through artifacts, photography and film. It’s also home to the city’s IMAX cinema.

 

650 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis IN 46204. Tel: +1 317 232 1637

 

Indiana State Museum website

 

Indianapolis Museum of Art

 

Widely renowned as one of the finest museums in the nation, the Indianapolis Museum of Art blurs boundaries between art and nature. The main building contains in excess of 50,000 works, as well as thought-provoking temporary exhibitions. Outside, the museum’s reach extends into the surrounding wilds, with a sculpture park set into the natural landscape.

 

4000 N. Michigan Road, Indianapolis IN 46208. Tel: +1 317 923 1331

 

Indianapolis Museum of Art website

 

Performing arts

 

From the street performers bringing color and energy to Fountain Square, to the grande dame historic theaters which shine on Mass Avenue, performance is the lifeblood of Indianapolis. It boasts its own Symphony Orchestra, based at the Hilbert Circle Theatre on Monument Circle, while other great venues host Broadway shows.

 

Old National Centre

 

One of Indy’s most lavish theaters, the Old National Centre is a centerpiece of the Mass Avenue arts district. It’s the main spot to catch show-stopping Broadway productions, and any trip there feels like a real event. The interior is opulently decorated with plush red seats and an intricate, paneled ceiling, showing off its Neo-Classical origins.

 

502 N. New Jersey Street, Indianapolis IN 46204. Tel: +1 317 231 0000

 

Old National Centre website

 

Sports venues

 

Indy is perhaps best known as a sporting city, and the fast-paced, high-adrenaline world of the speedway certainly runs deep in the Indianapolis psyche. With a whole industry built around car racing, there are museums, hands-on experiences, and of course the thrill of race day, all dedicated to this Indy sport.

 

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

 

This internationally famed race track can only be described in superlatives: it hosts the largest single-day sporting event in the world, and it has the largest spectator capacity of any sports venue. When the Indianapolis 500 revs up each summer, the roars of the crowd can practically be heard in the next state.

 

4790 W. 16th Street, Indianapolis IN 46222. Tel: +1 317 481 8500

 

Indianapolis Motor Speedway website