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 Elizabeth Nelson at education@imhm.org


To present the rich medical history of Indiana - past, present and future -

by preserving the Old Pathology Building, collecting medical artifacts,

and providing exhibits, publications and programs.

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: Robert M. Pascuzzi, M.D., Director, Department of Neurology, Indiana University School of Medicine
Board Vice-President: Alan Schmetzer, M.D., Retired Professor of Psychiatry, Indiana University School of Medicine
Board Treasurer: Steven K. Stucky, CPA
Board Secretary: Kathleen A. Hull, M.D., Professor Emerita of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine
Immediate Past President: Guy Hansen, Research & Development, Eli Lilly & Company


Board of Directors 

George C. Charbonneau, CRE, Vice-President, Colliers Turley Martin Tucker

Walter J. Daly, M.D., Retired, Dean of Indiana University School of Medicine

Norma Erickson, Executive Director, Indiana Association of Pathologists

Richard D. Feldman, M.D., Director of Medical Education, Franciscan St. Francis Health

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

Christopher Kellams, MHA, Service Line Administrator, Kidney Diseases, IU Health Physicians

Jeffrey Kellams, M.D., Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Indiana University School of Medicine

Juliet King, MA, ATR-BC, LPC, Director of the Graduate Art Therapy program at Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI

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

Shirley M. Mueller, M.D., Retired Faculty, Indiana University Department of Neurology

Janice K. Pascuzzi Hrisomalos, J.D., Attorney-at Law, Hall, Render, Killian, Heath,& Lyman, PC, 

Pamela S. Perry, Director, Public and Media Relations, Indiana University School of Medicine.

Marilyn Pfisterer, Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council, District 14

Julie Ruschhaupt, RN, BS Clinical Nurse Manager- Cardiovascular Surgery. IU Health Physicians

George Sandusky, DVM, Ph.D., Professor of Pathology, IU School of Medicine Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

William H. Schneider, PhD, Professor of History and Director of Medical Humanities at IUPUI

Jane Schultz, Ph.D., Professor of English and Adjunct Professor of American Studies, Women's Studies, Medical Humanities, Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis

James W. Smith, MD, Nordschow Professor Emeritus in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at IU School of Medicine

Clay Stuckey, DDS, Bedford, IN.

Peter L. Winters, M.D., Dermatologist, Past President, Indiana State Medical Association

David R. Zauner, Forensic Scientist

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

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software