While we don’t see as many school groups visiting Monticello during the summer as we do in the spring and fall, we love it when a group makes a special effort to visit us. Today, I had the pleasure of working with a high school group that’s part of the Shepherd Community Center in Indianapolis. After looking at a map of where Thomas Jefferson had traveled in his lifetime, we could tell he never made it far enough west to reach Indiana. So I issued a challenge to the group. Based on Jefferson’s interests, what sites would he visit in Indianapolis today? While the group first thought about Lucas Oil Stadium – home of the Colts – or Conseco Field House – home of the Pacers, we refined Jefferson’s “must-see” list based on his interests that we discovered during the field trip.
Here’s a top 10 list of things the students and chaperones thought Jefferson would enjoy in modern Indianapolis…
10. Arts Garden – We spent some time exploring Jefferson’s vegetable and flower gardens, and the students thought he’d enjoy the Arts Garden attached to the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
9. The mall – Might sound like an offhand answer at first, but the students suggested this after we talked about Jefferson’s efforts to make and sell nails.
8. Indianapolis Public Library – The students saw time and again how important Jefferson thought reading and writing were to the survival of our republic.
7. State Capitol – Classical influences similar to Monticello. Dome. Check. Columns. Check. Plus Jefferson was a politician, after all.
6. Canal Walk – Rather than playing sports, Jefferson enjoyed walking and horseback riding. He could easily feel at home taking a few laps around the canal.
5. The Eiteljorg Museum – The students immediately thought of this museum dedicated to American Indian art after seeing Jefferson’s collection of Indian artifacts in his hall.
4. Butler University – The students would want to show Jefferson one of their local universities to see how it compared with the University of Virginia, Jefferson’s “retirement” project.
3. Indianapolis Museum of Art – Jefferson would have loved seeing the IMA’s extensive collection. Plus I think he’d be a fan of the museum’s innovative use of technology.
2. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis – Hands-on experimentation to learn about science. Oh, and, a great exhibition about dinosaurs. Jefferson would be so pleased.
And at the top of the list… drum roll…. 1. Urban Garden at Shepard Community Center – The students’ own urban garden. They would love the chance to show Jefferson what they’ve created.