Ryan White Room at the Children Museum of Indianapolis

Sometimes an acquisition becomes the impetus for an entire exhibit: that was the case with The Power of Children: Making a Difference®, a permanent exhibit that opened on Nov. 10, 2007. The culmination of five years of planning and development, it began with an inquiry from Jeanne White-Ginder, the mother of Ryan White, the Indiana teenager who became internationally known in the early 1980s when he contracted HIV/AIDS.

Jeanne White-Ginder had contacted another museum about acquiring Ryan’s things, but that institution was only interested in a small segment of his belongings—primarily those things that were gifts from Ryan’s celebrity friends. But Ginder-White wanted a museum that would dedicate space to fully telling Ryan’s story. In 2000 she contacted The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis to see if there was any interest. When curators visited White-Ginder’s home they discovered that she had kept Ryan’s room intact—it was exactly as it had been before his death 10 years earlier. Although no one knew at the time how Ryan’s belongings would be displayed or interpreted, executive director and CEO Jeffrey Patchen and the curators concurred: “We want the entire room,” they said.

For complete information about the Ryan White room at the Childrens Museum of Indianapolis, click here.