When the opportunity to tour a mansion housing Indiana art came my way, you can bet I signed up ASAP. A visit to the Haan Mansion had me marveling at Hoosier art and enjoying tons of lessons in Indiana history. From tours to hikes and walks in the garden, the Haan Mansion has multiple activities visitors can do, inside and out.
Indoor: A Guided Tour Full of History and Art
Heading into the light beige-colored mansion with prominent scroll columns, I was immediately greeted with paintings and other art pieces in the high-ceilinged vestibule.
My first steps inside revealed an immense oval-shaped opening to the second floor. A tiered chandelier hung its center, pulling me to explore.
The just-over-an-hour tour, led by a docent, first took me to an illustrated map larger than any flat screen TV. Depicting the layout of the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, the map made quite the impression.
Previously known as the Connecticut Building, the mansion itself was featured in the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. After the building's debut, they broke it down and reconstructed it in Lafayette. The 15,000-square-foot building was bought by Bob and Ellie Haan in 1984 and was eventually turned into a museum. This mansion truly gets around.
And that was only the first 10 minutes of the tour. The docent then showed me around the rooms of the mansion. One room had a 4-foot desk that holds a secret surprise and another had a furniture set with mother-of-pearl inlays. Art scenes ranging from pastoral scenes to circus performers hung everywhere in gold frames.
During the tour, I listened to stories about the Hoosier Five artists who all studied art in Germany and heard countless anecdotes like the ones about the twin glass decorations Ellie Haan bought for a steal and the candle table that at last returned home.
The mansion is open for tours at specific dates and times each month. You can book your tour no later than a day in advance of the tour; tickets cost $10. In accordance with COVID-19 regulations, it is required for guests to wear masks and follow social distancing. You can book your tickets and check for tour times here.
Outdoor: A Walk in the Sculpture Garden
Behind the mansion is the outdoor Sculpture Garden. At the beginning, a lithe green 6-foot bronze statue welcomed me. Down the graveled path, I encountered fixtures such as a repurposed mannequin, an interactive limestone fish ball and a carousel of rusted metal.
I loved strolling, gravel crunching under my feet while admiring each work down the two-tenth mile excursion.
The Sculpture Garden is open free to the public from dawn to dusk. There are also free guided tours of the garden with various times posted on the Haan Mansion's website. You can book your spot no later than 24 hours in advance.
Outdoor: A Hike or Bike on the Trails
Behind the Sculpture Garden begin the Nature and Mountain Bike Trails. Stretching almost a mile long, the scuttering of wildlife and the rustle of leaves serenaded me while walking on the sunlight-dappled path. Being in nature relaxed my mind, while hills and rocks on the Walking Trail made for a moderately challenging hike. A six-mile bike trail with advanced and intermediate routes can be ridden as well.
Both the Nature and Mountain Bike Trails are also free to the public and open dawn to dusk. You can enter the Nature Trail through the gate in the back of the Sculpture Garden. You can also enter both the Nature and Mountain Bike Trails from behind the carriage house.
The Haan Mansion is located at 920 State St., in Lafayette. Both the museum and the garden are wheelchair accessible. For further information, head to their website.
Full of life and stories to tell, the Haan Mansion has much to offer anyone who visits, indoors or out.
For more locations to visit in Lafayette-West Lafayette, check out HomeofPurdue.com.
Jill Reabe, Purdue University Student, shares this blog.