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Summer Quest: A Safari In One’s Own Backyard

The Summer Quest is a chance to uncover the wonders of the world - animal, vegetable and mineral - without ever leaving the comforts of Bloomington.

  • 2nd floor: Fluorescent Minerals

    Image 1 of 14

    Photo: Indiana Geological Survey

    Fluorescent minerals on display at the Indiana Geological Survey.

  • Aggregate Display

    Image 2 of 14

    Photo: Indiana Geological Survey

    Aggregate display at the Indiana Geological Survey.

  • Seismograph

    Image 3 of 14

    Photo: Indiana Geological Survey

    A seismograph on display at the Indiana Geological Survey.

  • IGS building & arboretum

    Image 4 of 14

    Photo: Indiana Geological Survey

    The exterior of the Indiana Geological Survey's building, and its surrounding arboretum.

  • Plant Fossils from Coal Bearing Rocks

    Image 5 of 14

    Photo: Indiana Geological Survey

    Display of plant fossils from coal-bearing rocks at the Indiana Geological Survey.

  • Silurian Reef reconstruction display

    Image 6 of 14

    Photo: Indiana Geological Survey

    A reconstruction of the Silurian Reef at the Indiana Geological Survey.

  • IGS Bookstore, room 103

    Image 7 of 14

    Photo: Indiana Geological Survey

    The bookstore and gift shop at the Indiana Geological Survey.

  • Border mimosa and obelisk

    Image 8 of 14

    Photo: Hilltop Garden and Nature Center

    A mimosa and obelisk at the Hilltop Garden and Nature Center.

  • Fern wall

    Image 9 of 14

    Photo: Hilltop Garden and Nature Center

    A wall of ferns at the Hilltop Garden and Nature Center.

  • Passion flower, front fence

    Image 10 of 14

    Photo: Hilltop Garden and Nature Center

    A purple passion flower at the Hilltop Garden and Nature Center.

  • Thoughts, Things and Theories

    Image 11 of 14

    Photo: Mathers Museum

    The exhibit "Thoughts, Things and Theories...What Is Culture?" at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures.

  • Cradleboard

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    Photo: Mathers Museum

    A Lakotah cradle board featured in the Birth and Infancy section of the exhibit "Thoughts, Things and Theories" at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures.

  • Skull

    Image 13 of 14

    Photo: Mathers Museum

    A ceremonial skull from Papua, New Guinea, in the exhibition "Thoughts, Things and Theories" at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures.

  • Kimono

    Image 14 of 14

    Photo: Mathers Museum

    A Japanese wedding kimono, featured in the Wedding section of the exhibition "Thoughts, Things and Theories" at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures.

Event Information

Summer Quest

Treasure maps are available at all participating institutions, and online. Seekers of all ages may participate; prizes will be awarded in early August.


Through July 31, 2010

Ahhh… summer! A time when life in a college town slows down a little, and year-round residents might be open to something different.

Add to that equation a group of arts organizations looking to gain traction with locals and summer visitors and voilà! It’s the Alliance of Bloomington Museums’ Summer Quest, now in its second year.

A Hunt Through Summer

The Summer Quest scavenger hunt takes participants from cultural institutions with the word ‘museum’ in their name to other venues whose accessibility might not be so readily apparent. It’s a chance to uncover the wonders of the world–from the animal to the vegetable to the mineral—without ever leaving the comforts of Bloomington.

At the Indiana Geological Survey, for example, “there’s not one breathtaking, huge dinosaur, but there are small vignettes,” says research scientist Nelson Shaffer. “You can come in here and get a smattering of knowledge.”

“Bloomington has a really vibrant museum community,” adds Judy Kirk, Assistant Director of Indiana University’s Mathers Museum of World Cultures. “There are so many different kinds of museums – small and large – that have a wide range of appeal, from art and history to science.”

Charting The Way

A treasure map with clues provides incentive for tourists and Bloomingtonians alike to visit the venues. Its answers may be found at each of the twelve participating institutions. Surprisingly enough, locals can be somewhat hard to reach during the summer.

“We have a lot of families that visit us during the year,” Kirk explains. “But sometimes you don’t visit what’s in your own backyard.”

It is the very mission not only of the Mathers Museum, but also of the Hilltop Garden and Nature Center (Indiana University’s botanic garden, which is another stop on the Summer Quest) to encourage visitors’ awareness that what’s in their own backyards – or living rooms – is culture too.

Hilltop’s director Greg Speichert delights in surprising visitors with the unlikely plants he can grow in south-central Indiana, from artichokes to pineapples to indigo. He’s equally thrilled to show a gardening ‘virgin’ that it’s not that complicated to grow tomatoes.

The Venues

The list of museums participating in the 2010 Summer Quest includes:

  • Hilltop Garden and Nature Center
  • The Hinkle-Garton Farmstead Historic Site
  • The Indiana Geological Survey
  • The Indiana University Archives
  • The IU Art Museum
  • The Kinsey Institute
  • The Lilly Library
  • The Mathers Museum of World Cultures
  • The Monroe County History Center
  • SoFA Gallery
  • WonderLab
  • Wylie House Museum

According to the Alliance, prizes include a stay at a local bed and breakfast, toys, a DVD package complete with a copy of the film Hoosiers, and more.

See The Sites

Get The Maps

Yaël Ksander

WFIU's Arts Desk Editor, Yaël seeks out and shepherds the stories of artists, musicians, writers, and other creative people. In addition, Yaël co-hosts A Moment of Science, writes essays for A Moment of Indiana History, produces Speak Your Mind (WFIU's guest editorial segment), hosts music and news hours throughout the week, and lends her voice to everything from accounting courses to nature documentaries. Yaël holds a MFA in painting from Indiana University, an MA in art history from Columbia University, and a BA from the University of Virginia, where she studied languages and literature.

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