Students experience history firsthand at The Historic Artcraft Theatre in Franklin, Indiana.

History talks, movies and tours for school groups can be arranged at the 1922 art deco movie house.

Artcraft Theatre
Marquee, The Historic Artcraft Theatre, Franklin, Ind.
Credit: The Historic Artcraft Theatre

“Our goal is twofold,” said Jaime Shilts, programming and events coordinator. “First, we want to expose children to the Artcraft experience, which is the same as what their parents and grandparents would have experienced. And two, to offer an affordable, fun field trip for all ages.”

The 15-minute history talk presents an overview of the 625-seat theater’s past.

“We’ll talk about the early beginnings of the theatre,” Shilts said. “We talk about what a silent movie is and what vaudeville was and about the orchestra pit and how it was used. We also tell them about our 35 mm projectors and how they differ from what other theaters use. We always talk about the restoration of the theatre and why saving it is important. And we like to mention our volunteers and what volunteering means. We have over 280 volunteers, and they keep us in business.”

Smaller groups are able to take tours of the theater. Tours include the stage, adjacent green room and original projection booth.

A classic movie viewing includes a small drink and popcorn. Students love the popcorn, as it is locally grown and tastes different than the popcorn they are used to.

“The Artcraft is a wonderful place to bring students, and we can hold a lot of them,” Shilts said. “Our volunteers help run the field trips and they make it pretty easy for the teachers. We love to talk about the history of the theater and also why recycling and preservation is important. We’re actually owned by Franklin Heritage, Inc., one of Indiana’s longest running preservation groups.”

Artcraft Theatre
Student program, The Historic Artcraft Theatre, Franklin, Ind.
Credit: The Historic Artcraft Theatre

Franklin is located about 25 minutes south of Indianapolis, just west of Interstate 65’s exit 90. Motorcoaches drop off students in front of the theater. Drivers are directed to local parking lots.

For more information on The Historic Artcraft Theatre call 317-739-0458 or go to