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Exploring the storage facility at the Indiana State Museum

Many of the estimated 30,000 fossils at the museum will never make it to the museum floor.

INDIANAPOLIS — You may have been to the Indiana State Museum before, but you've likely never been inside its massive storage facilities that hold tens of thousands of fossils found in Indiana.

“We have the most Mastodon bones in the Midwest," said Peggy Fisherkeller, curator of geology at the Indiana State Museum. The museum says they have Mastodon bones that are 12,000 years old.

"It's really exciting," Fisherkeller said. "It's even better when you're excavating or pulling something from the ground and you're the first person to touch it. You're the first thing to touch it in 12,000 years or in some cases millions of years."

Many of the estimated 30,000 fossils they have will never make it to the museum floor.

"Most of them are never on display," Fisherkeller said. "We do have a lot of bones on display. We have lots of mounted skeletons on display in the galleries."

A majority of the fossils the museum has stored belonged to much smaller animals than mastodons.

"We have drawers and drawers of tiny bones also," Fisherkeller said. "Everyone's excited about the big bones, but the tiny bones can really tell us what was going on 20,000 years ago, 40,000 years ago.”

They use the collection for research of our region.

"These bones are going to tell us a richer history about what happened in Indiana over the past 100,000 years," Fisherkeller said.

There is also a biology storage room at the State Museum that holds taxidermized animals.

“Our oldest specimen is from 1869, and then, our newest one we brought in just couple months ago," said Damon Lowe, senior curator of science and technology at the Indiana State Museum.

They say about 3-5% percent of the biology storage is on display at one time. Some of the collection, including preserved reptiles, will be used for research and never see the museum floor.

"We want people to obviously learn about Indiana, both in the galleries, but also, we want people to learn about Indiana through the research that we do here," Lowe said.

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