Rolls-Royce North America has transplanted the company’s heritage museum from the factory in southwestern Indianapolis to the company’s downtown location on South Meridian Street, in the shadow of Lucas Oil Stadium. The goal, officials told the Indianapolis Business Journal, is to draw larger crowds—particularly young people who can be inspired to take an interest in aerospace careers.
The 6,000-square-foot James A. Allison Exhibition Center opened Jan. 24, bringing interactive displays that showcase the past—including Rolls-Royce’s local roots in the Allison Engineering Co.—as well as modern turbofan technology. The center offers visitors a hands-on and interactive digital experience, crafted with school visits in mind and equipped to help teachers spark an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Newill welcomed AOPA members in 2014, when the association held one of its Regional Fly-In events in town.
The exhibits showcase the history of locally produced aviation power from the 1920s, through World War II (when Allison engines powered many iconic aircraft of the era, including some models of the P-51 Mustang), and into the present-day turbofans and turbojets like the LiftFan that powers the F-35B that the company continues to produce a few miles away.
Retirees like Newill, as well as current Rolls-Royce employees, guide visitors through the exhibits, and organizers hope to welcome more of them in the new location. The previous exhibit center at the Raymond Street manufacturing plant saw only about 4,000 visits a year from 2008 through 2015.
The new location in the heart of downtown will be better positioned to draw crowds, just a few steps from the home of the Indianapolis Colts, as well as restaurants, shops, and other attractions.