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We want to take you behind the scenes, to give you insider information you won't find anywhere else. This is where we pull Bloomington's hip happenings together with recommendations from our team, first-hand accounts from project producers, and guest blogs by local gurus.  The Backstage Blog helps you stay in front of it all.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Indiana University's Most Unique Attractions

Categories: Indiana University

Indiana University is one of Bloomington's most unique attractions, and within itself, the university offers several additional unique attractions to be explored & enjoyed. From attractions you can't find anywhere else in Bloomington to attractions you can't find anywhere else in the world, campus guests are in for a treat when visiting these special IU destinations.
 

Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall

Men's Basketball IU

Considered one of college basketball's most iconic arenas, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall is the site of Hoosier tradition, lore, victory, and comradery. It's a venue with rich basketball history — practically holy ground for college basketball enthusiasts. There's nothing quite like attending an IU basketball game and singing "Sweet Caroline" with 17,000 people as the Marching Hundred jovially plays the tune from the stands.

Even if you can't make it to town for a game, visiting the sports venue is still a special treat — wander the halls and check out the historic team photos & other memorabilia, including the scoreboard and center court from decades ago, cases of championship trophies, and the legendary NCAA championship banners.
 

Musical Arts Center

IU's Musical Arts Center stage

IU's Musical Arts Center (MAC) is one of the most state-of-the-art performance venues in the United States, featuring the second-largest stage area in the country — second only to New York City's Metropolitan Opera. The venue hosts ballets, operas, and musical performances by the Jacobs School of Music, seating nearly 1,500 guests during any given event. Visitors flock to the venue each holiday season for the annual production of The Nutcracker, as well as other performances throughout the year.
 

Lilly Library

Lilly Library

The Lilly Library is an internationally-revered collection of millions of cultural & literary artifacts that document some of humanity's highest achievements, available for observation & admiration to all in Bloomington, incredibly, at no cost. The museum boasts over 460,000 books, 8.5 million manuscripts, 120,000 items of sheet music, and thousands of other items.

Special artifacts that can only be found at the Lilly Library include a New Testament of the Gutenberg Bible, the First Folio of Shakespeare's works, over 30,000 comics donated by Batman producer, Michael Uslan, the first printed edition of The Canterbury Tales, George Washington's letter accepting the presidency of the United States, typescripts from many of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, four of John Ford's Oscars, Thomas Jefferson's personal copy of the Bill of Rights, 16,000 miniature books, all under 2.5-inches in height, 94 of Sylvia Plath's poems, and much, much more.
 

IU Auditorium

iu auditorium

From the outside, the IU Auditorium is a stunningly grand building inspired by the culture of Southern Indiana, constructed out of locally-quarried Indiana Limestone. When you walk inside, however, you're transported to a big-city-feeling venue — the high ceilings, classic art, and all-around opulent space feels more like Chicago than Bloomington.​ Visitors are greeted by the historic Indiana Murals created by Thomas Hart Benton for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair as they walk through the auditorium doors, then are wowed by the lavish theater's grand size and rich shades of cream, crimson, and gold.

The IU Auditorium holds around 3,200 people and hosts off-Broadway productions, concerts, comedians, and talks with notable celebrities & public figures each year. Over the years, guests have included Laverne Cox, Bob Dylan, Coretta Scott King, Tiffany Haddish, R.E.M., Maya Angelou, The Supremes, Sarah Silverman, Yo-Yo Ma, Mac Miller, Dave Chappelle, Tony Bennett, Trevor Noah, and many, many more. 
 

Indiana Memorial Union

Indiana Memorial Union from Dunn Meadow

The Indiana Memorial Union (IMU) is the second-largest student union in the country with more than 500,000 square-feet of space, making it one of the most significant landmarks on campus. The limestone building can easily be mistaken for Hogwarts, with its classic stone façade and all of the magic found inside.

The IMU is home to The Biddle Hotel & Conference CenterIMU Bowling & Billiards, a movie theater, a hair salon, the IU Campus Bookstore, Alumni Hall (where concerts, lectures, and other events are held each year), several cozy lounge areas, and many restaurants & cafes — including one of the largest Starbucks in the country and a locally-beloved Chocolate Moose kiosk. Overall, it's a place for visitors, alumni, students, and families to experience the warm and welcoming spirit of IU.
 

Eskenazi Museum of Art

eskenazi art museum

The Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University is a work of art itself — designed by I.M. Pei, the architect behind the Louvre Pyramid and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the museum has no 90-degree angles except where structurally-necessary. Throughout seven galleries, there are over 45,000 objects available for observation, including works from Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and Claude Monet, as well as ancient artifacts, Renaissance masterpieces, and much more — all available to the public with no admission cost. With works from nearly every art-producing culture throughout history, the museum prides itself on using art as a means to shape the way visitors understand the human experience.

If you're on campus at night, take part in a fun IU tradition: lay on your back with your legs propped up against the side of the museum that the light totem reflects on. Take in the effervescent energy of the night as you relax and watch the colors change — it's especially nostalgic if you're a Hoosier alum.
 

Cook Hall

Entrance to the Pfau Shine Legacy Court inside Cook Hall

Located beside Assembly Hall is Cook Hall, a state-of-the-art facility that serves as the practice, training, and conditioning domain for the men's and women's basketball teams. Beyond its primary purpose, Cook Hall is also home to the Pfau Shine Legacy Court, which is an exhibit that chronicles the history of Indiana Basketball. The space features photographs, artifacts, trophies, and interactive touch-screen kiosks that celebrate IU's championship teams and basketball traditions, giving students, alumni, and visiting fans a unique opportunity to experience the university's celebrated basketball history.
 

Biology Greenhouse

A section of the Biology Greenhouse filled with desert plants

A bit of a hidden gem, the Biology Greenhouse is home to nearly 800 different species of rainforest, desert, and insectivorous plants from around the world — the eldest of which, the sago palm, is over 100 years old. Other species include Venus flytraps, pineapple & coffee plants, a variety of orchids, Arabian jasmine, a cacao tree, and the incredibly unique (and smelly) corpse flower, which the greenhouse has fondly named Wally in honor of the greenhouse's first manager.

Fans of Harry Potter will especially enjoy a visit to the Biology Greenhouse, as it has a magical similarity to Professor Sprout's Herbology classroom — minus the screeching mandrakes, fortunately.

 

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Alyssa Davis

Alyssa Davis

Alyssa is the Digital Content Coordinator at Visit Bloomington. She's a proud Indiana University alumna, mom to four cats, and Formula 1 enthusiast. When she isn't at work, you can find Alyssa checking out the newest restaurants in the area with her husband, curled up at home with a great book, or planning her next trip to a destination near or far.

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