Columbus, Indiana has a population of only 44,000, yet has been ranked 6th in the nation for architectural innovation and design by the American Institute of Architects, right behind the much larger cities of Chicago, New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
Smithsonian Magazine called Columbus a "veritable museum of modern architecture. The Chicago Tribune said, "Columbus is a small-town architectural mecca." USA Today said, "Columbus is one grand, landscaped park."
Visitors to Columbus can see more than 70 buildings and pieces of public art by internationally noted architects and artists, including I.M. Pei, Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen, Richard Meier, Harry Weese, Dale Chihuly and Henry Moore. To learn more about the architects, you may view a selection of short online videos.
And a visit to Columbus wouldn't be complete without a tour of the Miller House and Garden, to experience the heralded designs of Eero Sarrinen, Dan Kiley, and Alexander Girard.
Even if you are not an architecture buff, the story about how this small town strives to be its best is both interesting and inspiring. The Columbus story has been featured in dozens of regional and national publications, including National Geographic, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, Midwest Living, Dwell and Wallpaper. Read excerpts here.
The best way to learn the Columbus story is to take a guided tour. Experienced, trained tour guides lead tours daily aboard the Visitors Center bus. During the two-hour tour, visitors travel throughout the community, looking at historic and modern building exteriors, landscaping, parks and public art. Guests on the tour also get an inside look at two buildings. Tours originate at the Columbus Visitors Center. Click HERE for details about tour schedule and fees.
To get a quick overview of the Columbus story and what you can see and do, view the current Visitor Guide here.
There are several self-guided tour options available in the Visitors Center Gift Shop:
- Self-guided tour maps with color photos of the architecture and art.
- A self-guided cell phone tour highlights ten of the most important structures in downtown Columbus
- A smartphone app provides information and maps to the architecture and public art. (Go here for instructions.)
Click here for Visitor Center Hours. Note: Some changes in the schedule may occur during holidays.
The Columbus Area Visitors Center is proud to be a Distinctive Destination of The National Trust for Historic Preservation. We welcome all National Trust members to receive a discount 10% off gift shop purchases. Read about the role Columbus played in the National Trust's annual conference in November here. Visit the Distinctive Destinations website.