The Lilly Center Museum and Archives is the repository for historical records of Eli Lilly And Company and its founders, the Lilly family. Located at the Lilly Center at 893 South Delaware Street, the seeds of the Lilly Archives predate the company’s founding. As a result of Col. Eli Lilly’s service during the American Civil War, the Lillys were a history-minded family. From generation to generation they saved family heirlooms, portraits, and memorabilia that date to the early 19th century. Later generations of Lillys continued to be conscious of the value of saving records representative of the growth of the company, as well as items pertinent to the life of both the family and the business.

In 1940 Josiah K. Lilly Sr. began to collect family relics, mementos, Bibles, genealogies, and other family writings to be retained in an archive. In 1949 Josiah K. Lilly Jr. asked the corporate librarian to begin collecting and cataloging “anything in print or near-print originating during the company’s first fifty years and similar items of more recent origin which mark milestones in the company’s progress.” Records of the company, representing more than 140 years of operation, include journals, ledgers, manuals, handbooks, memoranda, reports, advertising materials, corporate publications, speeches, employee records, and photographs. 

The combined result of the efforts to collect both family and company historical materials became the Lilly Archives, an official department of the company, in 1956. The purpose of the archives is to preserve the corporate memory and to supply authentic documentation of company activities.

The Heritage Hall Museum includes exhibition space, display cabinets, interactive consoles, recreations of important rooms, and a full-size replica of the company’s original laboratory, located on Pearl Street and known as “the Replica Building,” that was built in 1934 to honor the company’s founder. Exhibition space features both static and rotating displays highlighting the company’s history, achievements, and the people who have made the company what it is today.

The Replica Building uses artifacts dating to the opening of the company on May 10, 1876, to illustrate the pharmaceutical manufacturing processes of the time. Here, visitors can see the various devices and processes used by the company to manufacture both raw medicinal chemicals and finished medicines. The same stuffed blackbird that was discovered mounted on the wall in the original Pearl Street structure continues to watch over all visitors to the little Replica Building.

The Eli Lilly and Company Archives and Heritage Hall Museum are not generally open to the public. Research requests are occasionally permitted, assuming the research activity is relevant to the archives’ holdings and the company archivist is available. Museum visits are generally only available for company employees and their friends and guests.

Revised June 2021

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