Step into the Story

aka Conner Prairie   |   Fishers, IN   |
GuideStar Charity Check


EIN: 20-3402627


Conner Prairie is a unique historic place that inspires curiosity and fosters learning by providing engaging and individualized experiences for everyone.

Ruling year info


President and CEO

Mr. Norman O. Burns II

Main address

13400 Allisonville Rd

Fishers, IN 46038 USA

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Subject area info

Arts and culture


Environmental education

Agriculture for youth


Population served info

Children and youth



Low-income people

People with intellectual disabilities

Show more populations served

NTEE code info

Museum & Museum Activities (A50)

History Museums (A54)

IRS subsection

501(c)(3) Public Charity

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Tax forms




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What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Daily Experience

Spanning more than 1,000 acres of land in central Indiana, Conner Prairie is an innovative living history museum, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and a Smithsonian affiliate museum. Conner Prairie offers a variety of indoor and outdoor experience areas, which combine history, art, nature, science, technology, engineering, and math to offer an authentic look into history and how it shapes society today. Guests can converse with costumed interpreters to learn about life in the 1800s, create new inventions, be immersed in nature, and more.

Our guests are invited to “step into the story” of Conner Prairie’s Four Pillars, outlined below.

Population(s) Served

Inspiring curiosity and fostering learning are the foundational elements of the Conner Prairie mission. Learning permeates everything we do – from the daily guest experience and school fieldtrips to our wider spectrum of offerings, which includes Preschool on the Prairie, Prairie Pursuits, Spark!Lab, Discovery Station, festivals, and the Conner Prairie Learning Portal - our digital classroom.

Conner Prairie honors the learner by emphasizing the process of learning over knowledge outcomes. The interests of each guest are at the heart of every experience.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Since opening to the public in 1974, Conner Prairie has been changing the way the world views and uses museums. Today, stories of our past run like woven fibers through everything Conner Prairie presents. History intersects the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, art, and math in countless stories that help us link the past to the present and make meaning for the future.

Throughout the property, Conner Prairie’s exhibits and programs energize guests with presentations that reflect our shared humanity. At the same time, we work toward an aspirational goal of sharing stories in which every guest can see themselves in history and feel welcome with each visit.

We are brought together in the present and across time through stories, traditions, and celebrations. These are the vehicles that Conner Prairie embraces to drive community connection and grow our understanding of one another.

Population(s) Served

Conner Prairie invites guests to step into the story of nature. With 1,046 acres of woodland, farm, and river, our geographic location also makes Conner Prairie a nature preserve where wildlife prosper. The land and waterways, once in the care of the indigenous people of the Delaware Tribe, are today our responsibility to protect and steward.
One of our signature outdoor experiences is Treetop Outpost, a 4-story treehouse on 3 acres of woods where guests are invited to explore, observe, wonder and play. Families immerse themselves in hands-on learning and make new discoveries about the natural world.
The tranquil prairie acres and 3.3 miles of White River contribute to an idyllic setting for Conner Prairie Camps, one of our most popular programs, which serves more than 3,200 youth annually.
Conner Prairie works with community partners to protect the future of the prairie, woodlands, and White River. Together, we are promoting ecological literacy and empathy for our land and waterways.

Population(s) Served

As a working farm that specializes in preserving and caring for hundreds of heritage breed animals, Conner Prairie invites guests to step into the story of agriculture.
In the early 20th century, Eli Lilly established his experimental farm on the property, raising horses, cattle, sheep, and hogs. Today, Conner Prairie continues this tradition through animal preservation and education.
Conner Prairie’s Heritage Breed Program helps ensure the survival of historical livestock while contributing to the local farm-to-table movement.
Conner Prairie is home to five heritage breeds: Arapawa goats, English longhorns, Tunis sheep, Ossabaw Hogs, and American rabbits. We work to protect them from extinction because their genetic value cannot compete with the production of modern livestock. Our expert agriculture staff not only care for these rare breeds but also raise awareness as to their importance. Daily, guests can interact with and learn about these rare animals in the Animal Encounters Barn.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Children and youth
Children and youth
Children and youth

Where we work


National Medal 2010

Institute for Museum and Library Services

Life Without Limits Award 2019

Fishers City Council

Partner Award 2019

CICOA Aging and In-Home Solutions

Best of the Midwest 2022: Best Historical Site 2022

Midwest Living

Best Historical Site 2020

Indianapolis Star Official Community Choice Awards

Best Summer Camp 2020

Indianapolis Star Official Community Choice Awards

Best of the Midwest 2022: Best Historical Site 2022

Midwest Living

Affiliations & memberships

Smithsonian Affiliate 2008

National Register of Historic Places 1980

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of students educated through field trips

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Related Program

Daily Experience

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Each total includes students, staff, and chaperones.

Total number of paid admissions

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served


Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Each total includes daily admissions, seasonal festivals, Symphony on the Prairie, and school tours. 2020 totals were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Number of grants and research funding awarded to the institution

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served


Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success


Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Conner Prairie's mission is to be a historic place to inspire curiosity and foster learning by providing engaging and individualized experiences for everyone. In doing this, Conner Prairie will expand the boundaries of our historical and natural resources by exploring, celebrating, and improving the human experience.

The museum’s 2018-2023 strategic imperatives are as follows:

1. Enhance museum experiences
2. Engage the community, land, and brand
3. Connect people and partners
4. Sustain resources, revenue and river

The strategic imperatives for 2024 – 2026 are currently in review and will be published in 2024.

Conner Prairie first survived and then pivoted to provide in 2020 before learning how to thrive again in 2021 by practicing the “Business of the Unusual.” In 2022, we used our annual SMART Plan to thrive and achieve the “Business of Enrichment” for our organization and guests and began to activate our future. In 2023, the “Business of Change” is helping us realize the future laid out in the last year of the 2019-2023 Strategic Plan and prepare for the 2024-2026 Strategic Plan.

Annually, the museum creates SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound). The SMART Goals align with the Strategic Plan; the objectives of the 2023 SMART Plan are as follows:

o Provide year-round experiences to grow visitation and engagement through existing core initiatives.
o Enhance opportunities for experiential learning through new or refreshed exhibits, programs, and core experiences.
o Activate Site Master Plan projects and others to expand the use of our campus and the White River to create educational opportunities about the history and science of the land and river.
o Amplify the Mission of Conner Prairie through cohesive marketing and PR strategies that highlight our community engagement, natural assets, and brand value.
o Create an engaged, collaborative, and inclusive culture to support and sustain strategic partnerships internally and externally.
o Create a cohesive brand voice that represents both our Explorer and Sage Archetypes.
o Create sustainable financial models to fund operational, strategic, and master plan needs.
o Protect our natural resources to preserve our cultural landscape.

Conner Prairie has an operating budget of over $15M in 2023 and employs approximately 114 full-time, 63 part-time, and 294 seasonal staff. The museum is governed by a Board of Directors totaling 39 community leaders. The Museum Foundation Board totals six individuals.

With strong leadership, Conner Prairie is in a unique position to model how museums can adapt to meet the needs of our changing world. As a steward of public resources, Conner Prairie considers how our mission-driven investments will provide returns for not only the organization but for the community as a whole.
We will continue to raise our bar in service to the community, and we will work collaboratively with stakeholders to address challenges that inevitably accompany change. Many contributors play important roles in the ecosystem, and on a foundation of trust we have earned to date, we will regard our long-standing partnerships while staying open to new ones. We will value staff expertise and lean both confidently and humbly on a track record of achievement.

We have created an environment where, over the years, increasing numbers of visitors of all ages, backgrounds, and interests come to our 1,046 acres to have fun, learn, and spend time together. Year over year, we have practiced good stewardship of our financial, human, and natural resources. We have established a reputation for planning carefully, engaging our community, and creating mutually beneficial partnerships.
The confluence of all these factors ideally positions us to add new chapters of innovation and success to the Conner Prairie story. We are changing the way the world views and uses museums by adapting in unexpected ways and by providing extraordinary experiences that enrich the lives of all our constituents.

• Conner Prairie counts itself among the 4% of American museums that hold AAM accreditation and one of even fewer that is a Smithsonian Institute Affiliate. A recognized and respected cultural institution both locally and nationally, Conner Prairie is committed to upholding a level of museum professionalism that meets and exceeds industry standards, and we remain dedicated to learning and sharing new ways to better serve the public.
• Today, we are faced with an undeniable shift in what it means to be a museum. We, like our peer cultural institutions, emerged from the global pandemic as a changed organization. One of our most important lessons over the last three years was recognizing that meeting our audiences where they were during difficult times required adapting a number of approaches to our work. In and since 2020, the museum has substantially increased its online presence and online content, invested in new technologies, and built more inclusive programming.
• Perhaps like no other time in our history has it been more critical for Conner Prairie to assess and adapt many of the ways we use our museum and historic grounds. Yes, we are addressing changes prompted by the pandemic, but we are also addressing the community at-large.
• In examining some of these new realities (below) and consequential challenges we will face together, Conner Prairie continues to demonstrate its willingness and ability to partner with community stakeholders and philanthropic supporters toward solutions.

Conner Prairie has evolved from a historic site focused on pioneer life to a dynamic multi-disciplinary place of community engagement. Conner Prairie gained a national reputation as an award-winning museum whose “Opening Doors” approach to visitor engagement has been embraced by more than 1,200 museums in the country. The very foundation of Opening Doors is inclusion. By placing each guest’s interests and learning styles at the center of the Conner Prairie experience, we invite everyone to become active participants in the stories that are shared throughout our grounds.

Conner Prairie aims to create experiences for everyone - regardless of background or abilities. We are guided by our DEAI Promise, which deems diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion paramount to the success of our mission. This philosophy influences all aspects of Conner Prairie's mission as we continue to develop and improve programming for all members of our community.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We act on the feedback we receive, We conduct evaluation & employ evaluation staff to know if we are achieving our mission effectively

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time


Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31
Financial documents
2021 Consolidated Financial Statements 2021 A-133 Single Audit
done  Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant. info

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2021 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 1.86 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2021 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 2.1 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2021 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 29% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of CONNER PRAIRIE MUSEUM INC’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

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Business model indicators

Profitability info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation $228,437 -$19,830 -$135,150 -$569,826 $54,862
As % of expenses 2.1% -0.2% -0.9% -3.2% 0.4%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation $26,245 -$224,040 -$340,861 -$767,621 -$90,809
As % of expenses 0.2% -1.7% -2.3% -4.3% -0.7%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $11,309,375 $12,950,634 $14,966,083 $17,879,069 $13,178,426
Total revenue, % change over prior year -6.8% 14.5% 15.6% 19.5% -26.3%
Program services revenue 24.6% 20.2% 19.9% 10.2% 21.3%
Membership dues 3.5% 3.1% 2.6% 1.9% 2.2%
Investment income 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Government grants 1.3% 0.9% 0.8% 13.8% 24.9%
All other grants and contributions 54.1% 61.2% 62.8% 70.8% 35.8%
Other revenue 16.5% 14.6% 13.8% 3.3% 15.8%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $11,096,598 $12,734,441 $14,715,950 $17,653,361 $12,999,046
Total expenses, % change over prior year -6.8% 14.8% 15.6% 20.0% -26.4%
Personnel 63.7% 60.0% 54.1% 39.8% 60.4%
Professional fees 7.4% 7.6% 8.6% 5.3% 12.3%
Occupancy 3.4% 3.1% 3.0% 1.9% 2.9%
Interest 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Pass-through 5.0% 11.1% 17.4% 41.5% 3.2%
All other expenses 20.5% 18.2% 16.9% 11.5% 21.2%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Total expenses (after depreciation) $11,298,790 $12,938,651 $14,921,661 $17,851,156 $13,144,717
One month of savings $924,717 $1,061,203 $1,226,329 $1,471,113 $1,083,254
Debt principal payment $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $0 $0 $786,865
Total full costs (estimated) $12,223,507 $13,999,854 $16,147,990 $19,322,269 $15,014,836

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Months of cash 2.1 2.2 3.0 2.5 3.4
Months of cash and investments 2.1 2.3 3.1 2.5 3.4
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 3.0 2.6 2.1 1.4 1.2
Balance sheet composition info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Cash $1,945,279 $2,384,369 $3,722,507 $3,720,942 $3,670,697
Investments $22,300 $21,473 $21,473 $21,473 $21,473
Receivables $1,466,514 $1,236,893 $2,103,592 $6,737,607 $3,071,389
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $2,647,805 $2,659,225 $2,667,510 $2,145,613 $2,932,478
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 48.9% 56.4% 63.9% 63.6% 51.5%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 14.4% 25.1% 45.6% 66.6% 54.1%
Unrestricted net assets $4,112,959 $3,888,919 $3,548,058 $2,780,437 $2,689,628
Temporarily restricted net assets $136,120 $372,143 N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $0 $0 N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $136,120 $372,143 $272,860 $1,068,394 $1,192,912
Total net assets $4,249,079 $4,261,062 $3,820,918 $3,848,831 $3,882,540

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Material data errors No No No No No


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

President and CEO

Mr. Norman O. Burns II

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990


Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization


Highest paid employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of highest paid employee data for this organization


Board of directors
as of 11/08/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Steve Hageman

Hageman Group

Brian Timmerman

Corteva Agriscience

Suzanne Gaidoo

Roche Diagnostics Corporation

Constance Brown

Civic Volunteer

Reggie Henderson

Telemon Enterprise Ventures

Karen Arland

Kennedy Downs & Arland, PC

Jessica Bastin

Anderson University

Doug Battaglia


Ryan Berry

Meyer Najem Construction

Marvin Blade

Duke Energy

Jessica Brand

Freelance Marketing Director

Melissa Caito

Indy Championships Fund

Kip Chase

Lilly USA, LLC for Eli Lilly and Company

Christina Hale

U.S. Small Business Administration

Clint Hangebrauck

National Collegiate Athletics Association

Ross Hendrickson


Leonard Hoops

Visit Indy

Christine Johnson

Strategic Consulting

Kerry Keffaber

Prairie Systems

Dave Kinard

Elanco Animal Health

Julia Church Kozicki

Sigma Kappa Sorority

Naomi Kwang

Barnes & Thornburg

Deon Levingston

Radio One

Eric Lucas


Graham Melendez

Indiana Department of Administration

Drew Miroff

Ice Miller

Clarence G. Newsome

National Underground Railroad Center

Jane Niederberger

CoreTech Revolution

Don Orr

United Animal Health

Greg Schahet

Schahet Hotels, LLC

Rebecca Schrum


Chris Simpkins

Christie Farrell Lee & Bell

Denny Sponsel

RJE Business Interiors

Selina Stoller

Concord Servicing

Jon Stolz

Christopher B. Burke Engineering, LLC

Megan Wiles

Riverview Health Foundation

Whitney Wolf

Wolf & Co. Exposition Solutions

Geordan Coleman

Chris Cooke

Cooke Financial Group

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 6/27/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data


Equity strategies

Last updated: 03/31/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.


Fiscal year ending
There are no fundraisers recorded for this organization.