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Elizabeth Ball Center-Minnetrista.jpg
Elizabeth Ball Center, located at the Minnetrista Cultural Center in Muncie, Indiana
Location Muncie, Indiana

Minnetrista, is the home of the Ball Jar and a Gathering Place located in Muncie, Indiana with exhibits and programs that focus on nature, local history, gardens, and art. The 40-acre (160,000 m2) campus includes a museum with changing exhibits, the historic home called Oakhurst, many themed gardens, outdoor sculptures and a portion of the White River Greenway. It is located in the Minnetrista Boulevard Historic District, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

Located on the grounds, visitors can tour George Alexander Ball's house, known as Oakhurst, which was built in 1895 and designed by architect Louis Gibson. The first floor is furnished to appear as it did in the 1920s. Visitors can also tour the grounds that feature many outdoor sculptures purchased by members of the Ball family.

There are many themed gardens, which include:

  • Nature Area - three representations of Indiana native habitat, a pond, woodland and prairie
  • Oakhurst Gardens - located by the Oakhust house, features a formal garden, sunken gardens, woodland gardens and courtyard garden
  • Wishing Well Garden - designed in 2000 by the Delaware Master Gardeners, features themes of Four Seasons, Moon and Bird & Butterfly gardens
  • Rose Garden
  • Backyard Garden, formerly the Children's Gardens which was renovated in 2012
  • Colonnade Garden
  • Orchard Courtyard - a seasonal container garden display


Minnetrista Visitors Bureau
Minnetrista Visitors Bureau.

In 1887, the Ball family moved their glass manufacturing company from Buffalo, New York to Muncie, Indiana. Ball Brothers Glass Company became one of America's best-known manufacturers of canning jars.

The family purchased most of the land along the north bank of the White River in 1893. They committed themselves to community projects that would improve the quality of life for East Central Indiana residents. An unfortunate event, the burning of one of the Ball family homes in the late 1960s served as an inspiration for the second generation of the Ball family. That inspiration would eventually blossom into more than they ever imagined: A place for lifelong learning.

The word "Minnetrista" means "a gathering place by the water", and was the name of the original home built by Frank Clayton Ball in 1894, which burned in 1967. The Ball family created the word from the Sioux word "mna" which means "water" combined with the English word "tryst". The Minnetrista Cultural Center was built on the same site in 1988.


Minnetrista Colonnade Garden
The Colonnade Garden, located outside Oakhurst Gardens.

More than 10,000 square feet of behind-the-scenes space at the Minnetrista is devoted to the preservation of the artifacts and archival material that documents the history of East Central Indiana. There are more than 15,000 objects within the museum's collection that include artifacts and archival materials such as photographs, diaries, clothing, quilts, furniture, locally manufactured products, and more. A selection of the objects and archival records are now available online. Currently, the records accessible include: postcards, photographs, objects, and over 2,300 book catalog records. Some of the topics included are Muncie Pottery, the Ball Corporation, Ball family, business, clubs and organizations, gardening, collectibles, and artwork. The library and archives are open to the public.

Family Fun

Minnetrista Orchard Courtyard
The Orchard Courtyard, located in Minnetrista.

The Minnetrista has events for the whole family that includes the Imagination Playground, Explorer Bags that allows visitors to explore and great their own adventure, step into the past and play in Betty's Doll House and Cabin, and special Saturday events. The Minnetrista has four annual events: Garden Fair in the spring, Faeries, Sprites, and Lights in July; Summer Stage Fest at various times throughout the summer, and Enchanted Luminaria Walk the first weekend of December. In addition, Minnetrista hosts a Farmers Market that draws 45,000 visitors each year. Throughout the year, the Minnetrista holds various workshops such as a glass workshop and a canning workshop.

Adult Programs

Orchard Shop by Minnetrista
The Orchard Shop, located in Minnetrista.

Minnetrista also has specific adult programing such as Senior Free Admission Day, Tea and Talk where specific topics are covered like Women's Suffrage, adult workshops, and After Hours themed events.

In 2020 two rooms in the historic Lucius L. Ball home were transformed into the Bob Ross Experience, adding new life to the space that was once the iconic painter's studio where he filmed "The Joy of Painting." Ross filmed at the home from 1983 to 1988 when the home was owned by WIPB, the local PBS affiliate in Muncie. The Minnetrista exhibit, cosponsored by Bob Ross, Inc., was opened on October 31, 2020, and will be open Wednesday through Sunday.

Natural beauty

Minnetrista has acres of formal and natural gardens, an expansive restored natural area that includes interpretive signs, ponds, and hiking trails. Minnetrista is currently working to create a comprehensive GIS-based map of the entire campus, including a detailed database of the plants available. This project is a partnership between the Horticulture Department at Minnetrista, the Delaware County Office of Geographic Information, and Ball State University (providing internship positions through the Landscape Architecture, Natural Resources, Geography, or Biology Departments).

Related links

  • Ball brothers
  • Ball Corporation
  • Beneficence sculpted by Daniel Chester French
  • Appeal to the Great Spirit sculpted by Cyrus Dallin
  • Hemingray Glass Company
  • Wheeler-Thanhauser Orchid Collection and Species Bank
  • Cardinal Greenway

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