Athenaeum Tour

Sound Thinking

Discover the evolution of an Indianapolis landmark from a German clubhouse to a hub of modern urban life on guided tours with Indiana Landmarks and the Athenaeum Foundation.

Photo by Chris Bucher

Explore a German-American Landmark on our Athenaeum Tour

The Athenaeum, built in 1894 and 1898 as Das Deutsche Haus, remains true to the “sound mind in a sound body” ethos of its freethinker German founders. Author Kurt Vonnegut’s architect grandfather’s firm Vonnegut & Bohn designed the German gymnasium and clubhouse, which the author declared his favorite of all of his ancestor’s works. Anxious to preserve their culture, and accustomed to clubs, German-Americans created societies for music, recreation and social activity, political and philosophical discussion, theater, exercise, and more.

In partnership with the Athenaeum Foundation, Indiana Landmarks proudly offers guided tours of this National Historic Landmark.

On the 60-minute guided tour of the Athenaeum, tourgoers will:

  • Learn about the Athenaeum’s unique German-inspired architectural features.
  • Explore the evolution of the building from a German clubhouse to a hub of modern urban life, with a theater, YMCA, and the Rathskeller, a restaurant/pub in continuous operation since the landmark’s earliest days.
  • Discover how the Athenaeum was saved when it faced an uncertain future and restored, still fulfilling the role of clubhouse for cultural development and physical health.
  • See spaces usually inaccessible to the public, including rooms overlooking the Biergarten and gym, and the theater’s stage. Please note these spaces are subject to room availability and all spaces may not be available depending on building programming.

Please be advised that the tour includes trips up and down three sets of stairs. If you need accommodations for a more accessible route, please alert your guide prior to the tour.

Tour Schedule

Tour dates for 2023 will be announced April 3, 2023.

Tours last approximately one hour and depart from the vestibule inside the Coat Check Coffee entrance to the Athenaeum, 401 East Michigan Street, Indianapolis.

Parking: Park at meters on the surrounding streets. On-street parking nearby is typically free on Sundays.

Bier and Building Experiences

A special, adults-only Bier & Building experience is offered on select Thursday evenings. Public tour tickets will go on sale April 3, 2023 and tour dates will be announced at that time.

Please address any questions to or 317-639-4534.

Another time? We offer Athenaeum tours for groups, arranged for the date and time of your choosing. Visit the Indianapolis Group Tours & Field Trips page for full details.