Kids used to have to keep quiet in Evansville’s old Central Library. Not anymore. The place echoes with children’s delighted squeals as they explore the landmark, now in its second life as the Koch Family Children’s Museum of Evansville. It’s a great example of adaptive use, a green alternative to demolition.
Built downtown in 1932, the building was designed by the Cleveland firm of Walker and Weeks, already well-known in Indiana for designing Indianapolis’s World War Memorial. Henry Hering, the artist who created the War Memorial’s Pro Patria sculpture, designed a carved bas relief pattern that gave the library’s Indiana limestone exterior an Art Deco flair.
By 2004, the library had outgrown the forward-thinking landmark and moved on to a new building four times the size. The city’s children’s museum, on the other hand, was squeezed into a storefront in a local mall where it could only accommodate one class at a time. The museum saw the old library as a perfect fit.
Sturdily constructed to hold the weight of thousands of books, the adapted landmark now houses three floors of interactive exhibits. Where Dewey Decimals once reigned, kids find a Giant Nose in the Live Big Gallery. The Quack Factory introduces them to Moe, a 20-foot tall duck they can climb while learning about the physics of water flow.
For parents and grandparents who once silently paged through books in the reading room, the Speak Loud gallery may take some getting used to.
Koch Family Children's Museum of Evansville
cMoe on Indiana Insider blog
Where We Live
Presented each week by Indiana Landmarks, Where We Live is a two-minute radio program airing on public radio stations around the state. Where We Live highlights historic places – their stories, their meaning, their place in our lives today. Find a list of stations airing the program on our website www.indianalandmarks.org.