Indiana Medical History Museum  |  3045 West Vermont Street  |  Indianapolis, IN 46222   |  (317)635-7329

The Indiana Medical History Museum is located on the grounds of the former Central State Hospital on the near west side of Indianapolis. The heart of the museum is the Old Pathology Building, the oldest surviving pathology facility in the nation. The Building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Inaugurated in 1896, the Pathological Department facilitated medical education and research on the physical causes of mental disease. In operation until the 1960s, the Pathological Department was reborn as a museum in 1969 and its scientifically equipped interior was left intact. 

Courtesy of Tom Mueller Photography, LLC 

Today, visitors can explore the teaching amphitheater; laboratories for bacteriology, clinical chemistry, histology, and photography; the library, reception room, and records room; as well as the autopsy room and anatomical museum which houses preserved specimens--mostly brains, organized by pathology.

In addition to guided tours of the beautifully preserved Old Pathology Building, the museum offers special events, exhibits, and programs on a range of topics, including the history of science and medicine, mental health care past and present, forensic science, and health careers today.


Central State Hospital, originally known as the "Indiana Hospital for the Insane," opened in 1848. The hospital grounds covered 160 acres on the outskirts of Indianapolis's west side. 

Throughout its 150-year history Central State Hospital treated patients with a variety of diagnoses, including schizophrenia (or dementia praecox), depression (melancholia), general paresis, hysteria, alcoholism, senile dementia, and epilepsy. The hospital's Pathological Department opened in 1896 in order to research causes and treatments of these diseases. 

At its height around 1950, 2,500 patients were housed at Central State Hospital. With the invention of new medications and the shift toward care in the community, the patient population dwindled in the following decadesAfter several scandals regarding patient abuse, Central State Hospital closed in 1994.

Researching the history of Central State Hospital?

Click here for some useful resources

The Pathological Department, now the Indiana Medical History Museum's Old Pathology Building, is circled on this 1898 Sanborn Map of the Central Indiana Hospital for the Insane. The 19th-century hospital wards, marked "Department for Men" and "Department for Women" were demolished between the 1940s and the 1970s.

1898 Sanborn Map of Central State Hospital, IUPUI Center for Digital Scholarship, Indianapolis Sanborn Map and Baist Atlas Collection.

Voices from Central State was a Fall 2016 event series spotlighted the patient perspective on life at Indiana's flagship mental institution, Central State Hospital (1848-1994).  Click here for more information.

We're currently planning a continuation of the Voices project, an initiative to gather stories from people with connections to Central State Hospital, including former patients, workers, neighbors, and families.

If you are interested in participating, please contact Sarah Halter shalter@imhm.org



Medical history is important!

The past informs the present and inspires the future.

Our mission is to present the rich medical history of Indiana

by preserving the Old Pathology Building, collecting medical artifacts,

and providing exhibits, publications and programs



To be the foremost institution in the region interpreting medical history and preserving it for future generations



To enhance appreciation for health care in the present and inspiration for its future by teaching about the past

To educate the public about the ever changing evolution of the science and practice of modern medicine

To preserve America's oldest (1895) intact free-standing pathology building

To excite students about science

To promote research in the history of medicine, especially as it relates to Indiana

To help train future museum and public history professionals

To take visitors back in time to the doctor's office of the 1950s

To cultivate important plants in the Medicinal Plant Garden, explain how they were used, and teach how some provided today's modern medicines

To protect artifacts important to the history of medicine in Indiana

To preserve and share the original collection of anatomical museum specimens, a vanishing resource as institutions turn to digital laboratory exercises

To present the history of health care broadly, including exhibits related to nursing, dentistry, and other disciplines

To trace the development of current medical practices from their origins and help health care practitioners embrace the roots of their professions

To preserve the history of Central State Hospital, especially concerning its scientific research and education about the causes and treatment of mental disease

To be a source of cultural enrichment in Indianapolis and Indiana


The IMHM is a private, nonprofit organization. It is not supported by any state, historical, or medical organization. The historical artifacts of Indiana’s medical past are preserved through admission fees, membership dues, and donations.


Officers of the Board of Directors

Board President: Jane Schultz, PhD, professor of English and medical humanities, Director of Literature, Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis
Board Vice-President: Cathleen Nine-Altevogt, JD, attorney, Indiana Department of Insurance
Board Treasurer: Lindsay Richey, CPA, Director- Integrated System Financial Services, Indiana University Health
Board Secretary: Kathleen A. Hull, MD, Professor Emerita of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine; head of IMHM Medicinal Plant Garden
Immediate Past President: Julie Ruschhaupt, MSN, RN, BS, ACC-ICF, Director, Experience Design Application, IU Health


Board of Directors 

Diane Arnold, MSW, LSW, retired Executive Director of Hawthorne Community Center

Norma Erickson, Executive Director, Indiana Association of Pathologists; Forensic and Clinical Toxicology Laboratory Specialist; past President, Midwest Association for Toxicology and Therapeutic Drug Monitoring

Richard D. Feldman, MD, Program Director for Family Medicine Residency Program and Director of Medical Education, Franciscan St. Francis Health; board member, Indiana Academy of Family Physicians and IAFP Foundation; past Indiana State Health Commissioner

Robert Flint, MD, PhD, Neurologist, Indianapolis, IN; past president Indiana Neurological Society; Chairman, Education Committee Indiana Neurological Society; member, Commission on Education Indiana State Medical Association.

Richard Gantz, PhD, former Executive Director, Indiana State Museum; former Assistant State Historic Preservation Officer and Director, Indiana Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology

Guy Hansen, Lilly Scientist in Residence, Eli Lilly & Company

Christopher Kellams, MHA, Vice Chair for Clinical and Academic Administration, Department of Psychiatry, Indiana University School of Medicine

Jeffrey Kellams, MD, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Indiana University School of Medicine; Medical Director of the Midtown Mental Health Center; Chief of Psychiatry Services, Eskenazi Health

Leah Knight, APRN-MH, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Midtown Mental Health Center, Indianapolis, IN

Sally Krause, MIS, Director of Marketing and Strategic Communications, Indiana University School of Nursing

Jon Marhenke, MD, retired psychiatrist, Indianapolis, IN

Shirley M. Mueller, MD, CEO/President MyMoneyMD, LLC; former tenured faculty, Indiana University Department of Neurology; board member, American Ceramic Circle; Board of Governors, Indianapolis Museum of Art

Cathleen Nine-Altevogt, JD, attorney, Indiana Department of Insurance

Robert M. Pascuzzi, MD, Professor and Chairman of Neurology, Indiana University School of Medicine

George Sandusky, DVM, PhD, Senior Research Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine; Director, IU Simon Cancer Center Tissue Bank; Co-Director, INBrain (Indiana Center for Biomarker Research in Neuropsychiatry

William H. Schneider, PhD, professor of history and Director of Medical Humanities, IUPUI

James W. Smith, MD, Emeritus Professor and Chairman of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, IU School of Medicine

Clay Stuckey, DDS, retired dentist, Bedford, IN

Steven K. Stucky, CPA

David R. Zauner, retired forensic scientist; Certified Latent Print Examiner, Indianapolis-Marion County Forensic Services Agency


Respected Board member and pathologist, Glenn B. Mather, M.D., passed away in June, 2009. The Glenn B. Mather, M.D. Memorial Lecture has been established in his honor.

Respected Board member and pathologist John E. Pless, M.D. passed away on March 17, 2014. A memorial has been established in his honor in the Morgue/Autopsy Room of the Indiana Medical History Museum.



Copyright © 2017 Indiana Medical History Museum

3045 Vermont Street, Indianapolis, IN 46222   (317) 635-7329

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