South Bend Mishawaka is home to more than a dozen exciting and unique museums and attractions that offer a look at history, art and education for people of all ages. From a kids’ museum that teaches with infectious fun to opulent mansions, you don’t want to miss this community’s best-hidden treasures!
The Otis Bowen Museum contains artifacts and memorabilia that tell the story of Dr. Otis Bowen’s beginnings as a rural country doctor in Northern Indiana and his subsequent political career that saw him become the Governor of Indiana from 1973 to 1981 and also the Secretary of Health and Human Services under Ronald Reagan. The museum contains a display of some of the items that Dr. Bowen used in his medical practice along with many items that were given to him by individuals throughout his long political career. The museum is open by appointment only.
Investigate a collection of unique artifacts that encourages families to explore, learn and enjoy the history of the Mishawaka area at the Hannah Lindahl Children’s Museum! Distinctive rotating exhibits give perspective to the historical heritage of our region and offer a look at how it has grown and changed over time. Explore exhibits of natural history, enjoy the tranquility of the Japanese tea room, or walk through a pioneer village of the past which includes a one room school house, general store, pioneer home and more.
Head to the Studebaker National Museum and cruise through a priceless collection of vehicles, artifacts and automobiles spanning 150 years of Studebaker and South Bend industrial history. Experience the largest collection of Presidential carriages in world including the one taken by Abraham Lincoln on that fateful ride to Ford’s Theatre the night he was assassinated. View the iconic “Bullet Nose” Commander, military vehicles from five wars, and the Studebaker Super Service Center children’s hands-on exhibit.
Step back in time as you tour the 38-room Oliver Mansion, complete with all original furnishings. Stroll through the lush gardens surrounding the mansion and explore the Worker’s Home, reflecting life in the 1930s. Head inside to The History Museum to check out the museum’s galleries, discover compelling stories of local history, the University of Notre Dame and the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, whose story was immortalized in the film A League of Their Own.
Located inside Century Center in downtown South Bend, the South Bend Museum of Art provides insight into the art, history and culture of the region and nation, offering a full spectrum of historical and contemporary art in five galleries. The museum’s shop, The Dot Shop, offers art created by local and regional artists.
Experience the magic behind the South Bend Chocolate Company. During the factory tour, get an inside look at how chocolate is made. You will also have the opportunity to make you own chocolate spoon. Reservations are best for large groups and the tour is 45 minutes long.
The Military Honor Park and Museum was established to recognize, acknowledge and pay tribute to all veterans, living and deceased, from each of the five military branches. It has become the home for military artifacts from all branches of service and represents all branches of U.S. conflicts. Uniforms, weapons, artifacts and motorized vehicles are on display.
The Snite Museum of Art is considered one of the finest university art museums in America. It contains more than 28,000 works that represent many of the principal cultures and periods of world art history. The 70,000 square-foot building was a gift of the Snite family in memory of Frederick Jr., class of 1933.
HealthWorks! Kids’ Museum has been infectiously contaminating kids of all ages since doors first opened in February 2000. HealthWorks! is a one-of-a-kind place that merges the best of both worlds from children’s museums and health education centers with its own creative spin. Today, HealthWorks! is the educational arm of Beacon Children’s Hospital and more than half of a million people have experienced its irresistible health “edu-tainment.”
Civil Rights is portrayed in the past, present and future at the Indiana University South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center at The Natatorium. The historic site memorializes the struggle for equal access to a public swimming pool that once excluded blacks. Today, it pays tribute to civil and human rights contributions of local citizens. It serves as an active center that promotes social justice. Visitors can access local histories, tour the facility, or participate in community-based programming.
The Potawatomi Conservatories are a haven of tranquility within Potawatomi Park. Wander paths through the lush tropical foliage of the Ella Morris and Muessel-Ellison Conservatories, explore the shapes and textures of succulent plants in the arid Arizona Desert Dome, or just sit quietly in the peaceful surroundings. The Conservatories act as a center for botanical education. Every year, they offer a variety of classes in gardening and plant care, science workshops for children, and special lectures. The Conservatories are also available for public and private events.
Explore Indiana’s first zoo! Home to more than 500 animals, Potawatomi Zoo boasts many rare and endangered species. Recently added to the zoo are the Okapi! Closely related to the giraffe, the Okapi have extremely long tongues that can range from 14-18 inches in length. The Potawatomi Zoo is also the only zoo in Indiana and Michigan who can say they have Okapi on site. Enjoy 23 acres of beautifully landscaped Zoo grounds, take a ride on the Potawatomi Zoo Train, and don’t forget to visit the full-service concession stand and gift shop.
Built in 1903, this church was an effort of Clem and Anne Studebaker. It features exquisite stained glass windows and the largest pipe organ in Indiana. St. Paul’s Memorial United Methodist Church also houses an ancient baptismal font, the oldest in the country and made from the marble of ruins found in Rome. Tours available by appointment.
Request a print version of our Guide to South Bend Museums brochure to further help you plan your visit!