New 10,000-Square-Foot Interactive Nature Experience to Open in July at Conner Prairie

FISHERS, Ind.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A four-story treehouse offering panoramic views will be the centerpiece
of a new 10,000-square-foot outdoor nature experience set to open July 1
at Conner Prairie.

Construction on Treetop
started in late October and continues today in the
southwest corner of the museum’s grounds. Several diverse activity areas
will surround the treehouse in which guests can engage with natural
materials, experience archaeology, build, create unique nature-based
artwork, explore music with instruments and more. Also, a connecting
nature walk will lead visitors through woods and along the river to the

Visitors will enter the treehouse by spanning a suspension bridge or
walking up an elevated walkway.

The $750,000 exhibit being built by general contractor Hagerman Group
was announced at Conner Prairie’s 2016 Annual Meeting Wednesday, during
which a nationally renowned dinosaur paleontologist and popular
children’s show host told the audience that now, more than any other
time in history, we have to get youth connected with nature.

“The indoor migration that has occurred in just a single generation has
contributed to a growing rate of obesity, attention deficit syndrome,
diabetes, myopia and other diseases among children,” said Dr. Scott
Sampson, host of the popular PBS KIDS series “Dinosaur Train.”

“A screen looks the same in Indianapolis as it does in Miami, Tulsa or
anywhere,” he said. But outdoor destinations, he said, like local back
yards and parks, Indiana’s McCormick’s Creek State Park, his own native
Canadian wilderness and even the Paris streetscapes lead to nature
discovery, interaction and appreciation.

“There’s a huge disconnect between youth and nature now and if we don’t
narrow the gap by getting kids outside now, people probably won’t even
care about the outdoors in a generation.”

Sampson, who is an executive at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
and recently authored “How to Raise a Wild Child,” said adults need to
instill and encourage three basic behaviors in youth to connect them
with nature for a lifetime.

“Notice that nature’s everywhere. Look at it and be curious,” he said.
“Let them engage. Let them grab a stick and play, jump in the mud and
climb a tree. Don’t say no. And let them wonder. Kids are naturally
inquisitive and want to learn on their own. Share your own stories about
your life in nature and encourage them to create their own lifelong

At the Annual Meeting, Conner Prairie shared its successes and
milestones achieved in 2015:

  • 386,057 people visited Conner Prairie;
  • 22,581 visitors flew on the 1859 Balloon Voyage;
  • 52,578 school tours visited, including students from 80 of 92 Indiana
  • 2,113 youth attended Conner Prairie summer day camps; and
  • 7,301 families, consisting of 34,313 adults and children, were active
    Conner Prairie members.


  • More than $8.5 million was raised through corporate and individual
    gifts and grants;
  • A $7.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. was the largest single
    gift ever made to Conner Prairie;
  • More than $544,000 in revenue was generated through membership sales;
  • $17 million was given in operating and capital support.

Spanning 800 wooded acres in central Indiana, Conner Prairie welcomes
nearly 390,000 visitors of all ages annually. As Indiana’s first
Smithsonian Institute affiliate, Conner Prairie offers various outdoor,
historically themed destinations and indoor experiential learning spaces
that combine history and art with science, technology, engineering and
math to offer an authentic look into history that shapes society today.


Conner Prairie
Duane Brodt
Director of Public Relations