It's not every day a museum rolls into town.

The Freedom Bus and the Bicentennial Experience Bus brought Hoosier heritage on wheels to the Delaware County Fairgrounds as a part of the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Lighting Ceremony on Sept. 27. It displayed prominent Hoosiers, famous Indiana inventions and civil rights history in East Central Indiana.

The Freedom Bus, a retired MITS bus turned mobile museum, shows prominent national civil rights leaders on its exterior, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali, while the museum on the inside focuses on East Central Indiana, said Martin Luther King Jr. Dream Team chairperson Susan Fisher.

The MITS bus transformation into the current Freedom Bus began in 2005. Development was supported by various community and city grants, plus research and field tests from Ball State students from 2014 to 2016 about civil rights and possible civil rights exhibits.

“In the state of Indiana, local history is part of the curriculum for fourth- and fifth-graders,” Fisher said. "So it’s aimed at that grade level, but to be honest, everyone enjoys it."

The Freedom Bus project is run by the MLK Dream Team and based out of Muncie. The team is composed of community volunteers and hosts events such as a Black History Month celebration, canned food drives and an annual Day of Prayer event. The MLK Dream Team also gives back to the community through various essay contests and scholarships.

The MITS bus transformation into the current Freedom Bus began in 2005. Development was supported by various community and city grants, plus research and field tests from Ball State students from 2014 to 2016 about civil rights and possible civil rights exhibits.

“The displays wouldn’t be at the level that they are without the help of Ball State University and so many of the students there,” Fisher said.

Fisher said the Freedom Bus is a necessary reminder of how far the nation has come in terms of civil rights, and the message is an important one to send to the community. 

“I think in this day and age sometimes we take things for granted ... at one point, not everyone could use a municipal swimming pool, it was whites only," Fisher said. "So that’s kind of shocking for younger people to realize that, and that wasn’t that long ago."

The Bicentennial Experience Bus was also a hit during the Bicentennial Torch Lighting Ceremony.

Matt Hartzburg, who graduated from Ball State last spring, is the manager of the Bicentennial Experience bus. The position is his first job out of college, and Hartzburg said he couldn't be more proud to be a member of the project team.

“As they say, you only get one bicentennial, and it’s been really cool to be a part of that,” Hartzburg said. "To say, ‘hey, you remember the torch relay? I actually worked on that project.’ And as a first gig getting out of Ball State, it’s really not been bad."

The Bicentennial Experience Bus contains 200 years of Indiana history and follows the torch relay whenever possible. At the Delaware County Torch Lighting Ceremony, the bus provided the backdrop for the lighting of the torch itself.

“It’s quite a feat to take a museum, put it on wheels and take it to two stops a day every day,” Hartzburg said. "It’s not without its challenges but, like I said, it’s a very neat thing to take to people. It’s a lot of fun."

Students from Heritage Hall Christian School took a field trip to visit the two mobile museums, and Iris Martz, a fourth-grade student at Heritage Hall Christian, said he was excited he got to visit both of the museums.

“We’ve been studying Indiana history so we thought it would be good to come and look at all the things of Indiana,” Martz said. 

Ball State students were at the fairgrounds to check out the museums as well. Freshman psychology major David Bremon said he had never been to an experiential museum before, but after touring the busses, he hopes to learn more about Indiana's history and visit more museums.

"I had never heard of these before so I wanted to see what they were all about," Bremon said. "I'm so glad I did, because this has so much information and it's honestly really cool to walk through."

The buses will follow the torch to its next stops in Blackford, Grant and Wabash counties, which take place Sept. 28.