Indy Like a Local: Julia Whitehead

Who is Julia?

Founder and executive director of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.

Q. What excites visitors to the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library the most? Any particular exhibit?

A. I think people love seeing some of Kurt's personal items such as his typewriter, reading glasses, or original artwork, but what really excites visitors is the conversation about Vonnegut. They listen to the stories we share...we listen to why they have made a pilgrimage from Russia or Vancouver or Barnstable, Massachusetts, for example. We get carried away in conversations about prison reform, workers rights, alternatives to war, climate change, or maybe things less daunting like Kurt's fantastic sense of humor, his plays, his favorite music, his love of ping pong. People leave with new information and maybe a book or a t-shirt but also with thoughts about Kurt and his words like: "We are what we pretend to be so we must be careful what we pretend to be."

Q. Any other Vonnegut-related stops you recommend on a trip to Indy?

A. We've actually started partnering with friends at IUPUI to give Vonnegut bus tours in Indy for groups. We always conclude the tours at the Athenaeum with a visit to the Rathskeller. Vonnegut's grandfather designed the Athenaeum, and it is worth a tour of the building and a beer in the Vonnegut Room of the Rathskeller. Kurt loved it!


Q. Where do you personally shop for books?

A. My husband, kids, and I have this family tradition of going to HalfPrice Books on Sundays. Our house, the "silverfish farm," runneth over with books. We also love IndyReads.

Q. What's Indy's best-kept secret?

A. The Garfield Park Conservatory is definitely a fave for me. And you can't go wrong with many of the restaurants, these little hidden gems, around Lafayette Rd./38th Street (International Marketplace) representing great flavors from around the world.

Q. Where do you take friends when they're visiting?

A. I take visitors first to, of course, the Vonnegut Library but our next stop is definitely the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) and the grounds of the IMA. From the art museum itself to the beautiful public art to the Lilly House and greenhouse to the trails, this venue always proves to be a crowd pleaser.

Lilly Houes and Gardens

Q. Where do you take family members?

A. While we may fit in a visit to a Pacers game, the ISO (Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra), or one of our great theaters, one of my favorite places is Eagle Creek Park. We catch a late afternoon hike or walk around the beautiful Lilly Lake, where I was married, and then head over to Rick's Boatyard down the street for a beautiful sunset and jazz on the deck overlooking Eagle Creek Reservoir.

Q. What's your favorite Indy hangout? 

A. That's a tough one! I love the Jazz Kitchen and Morty's Comedy Club, the bar at the Alexander Hotel downtown, a host of places on Mass Ave, First Fridays at Fountain Square, and, of course, the Vonnegut Library. How fortunate we are to live in a city with so many unique neighborhoods.

Q. What's your favorite summer activity in Indianapolis?

A. My family loves Animals and All That Jazz at the Zoo, Symphony on the Prairie, and the Indianapolis Public Library's summer reading program. And it's hard for me to beat dinner on Mass Ave or in Broad Ripple with a walk on the Monon Trail.

Monon Trail

Q. What should visitors to Indy absolutely not miss?

A. Visitors should not miss the Vonnegut Library, or paddle boats on the canal, an Indy Eleven game, or the gravesite of James Whitcomb Riley - the Hoosier Poet - at the peak of Crown Hill Cemetery. Oh, come on... is it creepy that I like graveyards? But Crown Hill isn't just any old graveyard...


Get an insider view and experience Indy Like a Local


Josh Baker

Music Club Owner and Promoter


Oreo Jones

Hip-Hop Artist


Walter Lobyn Hamilton

Vinyl Record Collage Artist


Yoshiko Kamikusa

Ballet Dancer


Meredith Kong and Kelly Ryan

Ice Cream Innovators


Jingo M. de la Rosa

Illustrator and Educator


Josh Rush

Painter and Biking Enthusiast


Consuelo Poland

Manager, RUCKUS Makerspace, and Executive Director, Latinas Welding Guild


Sonja and Alex Overhiser

Food Bloggers and Authors


Mab Graves

Artist and Illustrator


David Ranalli

Magician and Illusionist


Michael Pettry

Choir Director


Andrea Hunley

Public School Principal


Ben "Action" Jackson

DJ and Founder, Rad Summer


Trip (Butler Blue III)

Mascot, Butler Bulldogs


Marisol Gouveia

Zoo Membership Director


Martha Hoover



Pedro Fernandez

Symphony Percussionist


Hattie McDaniel

Pastry Chef, Vida


Brian Kelly and Alex Janeczek

T-Shirt Shop Owners


Chris Eley

Owner, The Smoking Goose and Goose the Market


Clay Robinson

Co-Founder, Sun King Brewing


Cole Farrell and Aric Furfaro

Writer and Exhibit Designer


Ed Carpenter

IndyCar Driver and Team Owner


Ersal Ozdemir

Owner, Indy Eleven soccer club


Gary Brackett

Former Colt Linebacker and Owner, Brackett Restaurant Group


Beth Chappo

Blogger, Seersucker + Saddles


Jamie and Martine Locke

Fine Artist and Musician


Julia Moffitt

News Anchor, WTHR


Julia Whitehead

Executive Director, Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library


Mali Jeffers

Director of Marketing and Community Initiatives, Ambrose Property Group


Peter Dunn

Personal-Finance Guru/Comedian


Polina Osherov

Executive Director, Pattern


Sam Cronk

Hair Stylist


Tamika Catchings

Former WNBA Star, Indiana Fever


Erin Edds

President, Garden Party Botanical Hard Soda


Frank Mickens

News Anchor, CBS4 This Morning


James Hinchcliffe

IndyCar Racer, Contestant on Dancing with the Stars


Januarie York

Spoken-Word Artist


Mina Starsiak and Karen Laine

Stars of HGTV's Good Bones


Neelay Bhatt

TedX Speaker


Shane Brown

Chalk Artist and T-Shirt Shop Owner


Charlie Kimball

IndyCar Racer


Ben Hardy

Owner, The Gallery Pastry Shop


Kimberly Schrack

Owner, Manayunk Calligraphy


Robin Staten

Founder and Owner, Tiny Urban Escapes

Maria Romaine Brace

Maria Romaine Brace

Owner, Like the Lettuce: Fitness + Health Coach

Visior Guide Request

Plan Your Getaway