Seed Saving & ‘Seeds of Time’

News and Notes from Carey Beam, Director

Wylie House Museum opens up for regular walk-in hours March 1, 10am-2pm. We look forward to welcoming you for a visit!

We begin the season with our annual heirloom seed sale on Sat., March 5th, as well as our annual participation in the Indiana Heritage Quilt Show, March 3rd-5th ( For more than a decade the museum has been a Community Exhibitor for this wonderful Bloomington event. This year we are delighted to exhibit the collection of Chris Allswede. Chris has spent many years visiting antique shops and auctions to rescue handmade quilts from the 19th and early 20th century. Wylie House will be displaying a portion of her incredible collection throughout the home for the quilt show; they will remain on display through the month of April.

Work has begun on the limestone retaining wall which runs along the south perimeter of the property.  It will take several weeks but we will have a beautiful new wall and safe sidewalk upon completion. In the meantime, please look for parking along the alley behind the museum or along neighboring streets, being careful to avoid areas which are only zoned for neighborhood permits. The museum will still be open and accessible.

Note from Sherry Wise, Outdoor Interpreter at the Wylie House Museum

Spring is just around the corner. The winter aconites are blooming, the birds are singing, and on some days you can feel Spring in the air. Garden volunteers are packaging seeds, preparing for the Annual Seed Sale on Saturday, March 5th, which will be held in the Morton C. Bradley Jr. Education Center from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM. We will have over 80 varieties of herbs, flowers, and vegetables available for purchase. New seeds for 2016 planting have just arrived in the mail from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Royal Purple Zinnia, Mary Helen Marigold and Golden Runner Bean will add some color to the Wylie House beds. Burgundy Okra, Devil’s Ear Lettuce, and Black Futsu Squash are just a few of the vegetable varieties to look for growing in heirloom gardens this season. Plan a visit to the Wylie House to see the new kitchen herb garden and learn more about the use of herbs in 19th century living.

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Seed Saving, Cary Fowler, and ‘Seeds of Time’

We here at the Wylie House Museum practice the art of seed saving every year in order to preserve our living garden heritage and to preserve native plant species that may have been present when the Wylie’s themselves owned the property. For those that are unfamiliar with the practice of seed saving, it is the act of saving and properly storing seeds in order to preserve species of plants, flowers and vegetables. Many variations of plant and vegetable species are being lost due to poor preservation, making virtually thousands of species extinct with every passing year.  Not only is it part of our mission to preserve the heritage of the Wylie family through their home, but we have also incorporated the heirloom garden and seed saving into our interpretation of the Wylie family history. Due to this interpretation, every year our amazing Outdoor Interpreter, Sherry Wise diligently works to plan the heirloom garden, save seeds and oversee the work of our garden volunteers.

It is not every day in a house museum and archives that we find a connection between our work and current scientific happenings. Regardless of the fact our work at the Wylie House revolves around interpreting both the home and the gardens from the 19th century, there are still ways in which this work can connect to modern life. One way in which we have found our work at the Wylie House connected to the outside world is through the practices of Dr. Cary Fowler. Much like the museum, Dr. Fowler’s history is both varied and nuanced, in terms of contemporary value with a historical link. You may be wondering, what do an American agriculturalist and a house museum have in common? The answer is: more than you would think!

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Dr. Cary Fowler has worn a lot of hats during his career. Not only was the former Executive Director of Crop Trust involved in the Civil Rights movement during Memphis in the 1960s, but he has also been referred to as ‘The Man Who Saved the World’ for his work in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Dr. Fowler’s most notable work is the main focus of the documentary, ‘Seeds of Time’ and his establishment of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. The seed vault, which was entirely funded by the government of Norway, that Dr. Fowler established has more than tens of thousands of copies of over 4,000 plant species. There are several seed vaults that Dr. Fowler has now helped begin throughout the world, many organizations and gardeners, including the Wylie House, also participate in the efforts to save many plant species from going extinct. Although we don’t want to give away too much about the documentary, Dr. Fowler’s efforts have now reached a national level in the United States, as he is currently a member of the Board of International Food and Agricultural Development, as appointed by President Barack Obama.


On March 28th, 2016 at 7:00 P.M., the Wylie House Museum, in conjunction with the IU Libraries, will be hosting a viewing of the documentary ‘Seeds of Time’ at the IU Cinema. Not only will we be hosting a screening at the IU Cinema, Dr. Fowler himself will also be in attendance for a Question and Answer session to follow the screening. This event is free, but will be ticketed.  

To learn more about ‘Seeds of Time’, please visit the IU Cinema’s page with a description of the film:


Welcome to the New and Improved Wylie House Blog!

Happy New Year!

As you have surely noted, in 2015 Wylie House moved its web presence to a new home within the IU Libraries. The museum’s blog is now following suit in 2016! It will serve as the perfect place to bring you our monthly news, highlight recent and upcoming activities, and dig a little deeper into our history and collections.

Wylie House is off to a busy start this spring semester. We are looking ahead and planning spring concerts, lectures, and exhibits. Keep an eye on our Events page for details!

Of particular note is the opening panel discussion and reception for the Association of Indiana Historians that will be held at Wylie House on Friday, Feb. 19th. We are delighted to welcome noted Indiana historians and conference attendees to an evening in the parlor, followed by light refreshments in the education center. The event is open to the public; registration to the annual conference is not required. Details can be found here on the AIH website:


Wylie House is pleased to welcome a new student intern, Mary Figueroa, from the Anthropology Department. Mary has an interest in museum studies and will be curating our annual spring quilt exhibit as part of the Indiana Heritage Quilt Show, March 3-5 (

We also welcome volunteer students, Hannah Kappes and Taylor Bacchus, both studying in the Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Department. Hannah and Taylor will be assisting with marketing and event management. We have several upcoming events this spring and their help will be invaluable!

The museum’s involvement in I.U. classes continues to grow.  Classes from the Education Department, English Department, Parks, Recreation & Tourism, as well as Apparel Merchandising & Interior Design will be visiting the museum this semester for tours, class assignments, and research projects. The museum is particularly excited to be working closely all semester with Professor Ashley Hasty’s History of Fashion course in order to integrate skills in information and primary source literacy. We will be assisting Prof. Hasty’s students with research and writing skills, and they will be using several of our historic documents and textiles for engaging study opportunities. 19990010756c 20050030442

Candlelight Open House 2015

Before we jump too far forward into this semester, we want to take a look back at last month’s Candlelight Open House. We are still basking a little bit in its glow! Our Graduate Assistant, Bridget Albert, studying in the Arts Administration program shares her thoughts:

Wylie House Candle Lighting 12.06.2014

Brightly lit candles, live music, Christmas carols and warm apple cider. These were a few of the many highlights of our annual Candlelight Open House on December 5th, 2015. The experience of Christmas has changed exponentially since Wylie families celebrated the holiday during the 19th century. Long gone are the days when the Wylie family would gather to open their stockings and celebrate the holiday. We here at the Wylie House Museum try to replicate the spirit of a 19th century Christmas as best we can for the Indiana University and local Bloomington communities every December by hosting a welcoming and celebratory event. Minus the candle-lit pine tree, of course.  

Visitors of the 2015 Candlelight Open House enjoyed a variety of different holiday experiences. Live music was provided by students from the St. Charles School Band and Bloomington’s Horseshoe Stringband in the Morton C. Bradley Jr. Education Center. Visitors of the education center were privy to holiday treats, egg nog, and warm apple cider. Located directly next to the snacks, kid-friendly crafting activities were available in the form of stringing popcorn and cranberries, as well as paper-chain making.


Lining the walkways leading up to the Wylie House, luminaries were placed outside to welcome guests on the chilly evening. In order to bring the true feeling of a 19th century Christmas to life, docents dressed in period attire, greeted guests, and gave tours of the first floor by candlelight. Beautiful music filled the hallways of the home. Jacobs School of Music students, Kyle Schardt and Zechariah Landers, played classical guitar in the family room while Christmas carols were brilliantly sung by visitors and volunteers alike in the parlor. They were accompanied by the talented and generous pianist, Mark Wiedenmayer.


We were so fortunate to have around 300 guests visit the Morton C. Bradley Jr. Education Center and Wylie House Museum during our Candlelight Open House. If you missed out on the fun this year, make sure to check out our Events page and Facebook for updates on upcoming events. In the spirit of the Wylie family’s generosity and giving back to the Bloomington community, it is our pleasure to hold this event every December and would love to see you in December of 2016. Many thank yous to the musicians and the following volunteers:

Wylie House Docents

Steve Bailey

Paula Bourne

Ann Fierst

Linda Hunt

Malia Jackson

Diana Lambdin

Mary Anne Martin

Kay Thies

Sheryl Vanderstel

Helena Walsh

Jody Wintsch

IU Students

Taylor Bachus

Caroline Voisine

Courtney Mundy