Permanent Exhibits | Allen County Innovation | Digital Collection


Permanent Exhibits

Little Turtle

There are more than 26,000 artifacts in our collection, many of which are on permanent display in a series of exhibits at The History Center. Many of the exhibits include interactive elements, offering families a true "hands-on history" experience. The contributions of women and minorities are also well-represented, demonstrating the rich diversity of a multicultural community. Here are some of the highlights of what visitors may see.

Earliest Inhabitants
Tools and weapons provide evidence of an early society that apparently moved into this area as the last Ice Age came to an end. A mastodon's broken rib bone and a large tooth (molar) may be the remnants of a successful hunt.

Miami Indian History
Histories and images of Pacanne, Little Turtle, and Jean Baptiste de Richardville pay homage to the period when the Miami Indian village of Kekionga (near the confluence of our three rivers) was a major trade center in a world-wide market for furs and pelts. Items belonging to the great Miami chief Little Turtle are on display, most notably his watch and a ceremonial sword presented to him by President George Washington.

Model Miami Indian Village

Anthony Wayne
A fold-up camp bed designed for easy transport in the wilderness helped General Anthony Wayne sleep comfortably when he came to this area and ordered a fort built that would bear his name. The dedication of that fort on October 22, 1794 is recognized as our city's birthday.

Anthony Wayne exhibit, including camp bed

An Emerging City
Displays devoted to the Wabash & Erie Canal and the railroad recall the rise of a city that, like the village of Kekionga, would be built on commerce and transportation. Founding fathers like Samuel Hanna and Jesse Williams (chief engineer for the canal) are recognized for their accomplishments.

Recreations of a blacksmith shop and a foundry demonstrate our growth as an industrial city. Silvanus F. Bowser created the self-measuring gas pump (they are still called "bowsers" in some parts of the world); Wayne Pump and Tolkheim made significant improvements to secure our place in transportation history.

A re-creation of a foundry

Allen County Innovation

In 2012, the History Center opened the first new permanent exhibition gallery since the museum opened in 1980. Allen County Innovation details the many inventions conceived and produced in our area. As the birthplace of magnet wire to Sweetwater Sound, Vera Bradley and Bad Dad motorcycles, Allen County and Fort Wayne have been at the forefront of entrepreneurship throughout their history.



Digital Collection

In partnership with the Helmke Library at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), the History Center has created an online Digital Collection. Go to  for access to many historic materials owned by the Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society, including photos, maps, and manuscripts.

History Center Notes & Queries

Continue to learn about Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana history by following along at the History Center's blog

Tracking ID UA-51656718-1