Indianapolis is a city of rich history. Throughout the centuries, men and women have molded the Circle City into a place where industry blossoms, families flourish, and community grows. Perhaps one of the most noted historical figures, Eli Lilly fostered a pharmaceutical business in 1876 that would change not just our city but the health and lives of people all over the world. While most recognize the name of one of our city’s biggest employers, few know the beginnings of the company or of the man who pioneered it. Now you can step back in time to discover exactly who Eli Lilly was and why this multinational corporation began manufacturing pharmaceutical drugs in Indy.

You Are There : Eli LillyThe Indiana History Center’s newest exhibit, You Are There: Eli Lilly at the Beginning, transports visitors back in time. Visit Civil War veteran Colonel Eli Lilly’s original laboratory on Pearl Street of Indianapolis during its nascent days of development. Discover what drove Eli Lilly not only to found Eli Lilly and Company but also his passion for philanthropic living and giving. What would become a sprawling headquarters began humbly with very few employees. Depending on when you visit, you may encounter Josiah K. Lilly, Colonel Lilly’s teenage son. Or you could chat with Augustus Keifer, an Indianapolis drug wholesaler who believed Lilly should strike out on his own. Maybe Caroline Krueger, one of Lilly’s first employees will give you insight on what it was like to work for the burgeoning business. Or perhaps you can be a fly on the wall as a local reporter interviews Eli Lilly about how his early experiences shaped both his business and personal philosophies. 

Lilly led a life filled with personal setbacks and disappointments, but both seemed to fuel his endeavors to change the world. With artifacts on loan from Eli Lilly and Company, this exhibit gives visitors to the Indiana History Center an upfront and firsthand opportunity to interact with an important piece of Indianapolis history. But like all You Are There experiences, this special peek into the past is not permanent. Newly unveiled on October 1st, you can be among the first to time travel to Pearl Street in the late 1800s. While you’re there don’t miss the 1948: Communities Can! exploration of the Ball Brothers’ Canning company’s efforts in Muncie, Indiana or the 1816: Indiana Joins the Nation journey to statehood exhibits. And as always, you can visit the Cole Porter Room for delightful musical entertainment, explore Destination Indiana for a dazzling digital visual history of our state, or grab a snack at the Stardust Terrace Cafe. Don’t forget to take a stroll along the lovely White River Canal Walk, too. 

There’s no limit to all you can learn about the men and women who have made the Hoosier State great at the Indiana History Center this fall or anytime of the year!