Have a Ball at Minnetrista in Muncie

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Photo courtesy of Minnestrista

Chances are you’ve heard of Ball jars, and you may even have a few in your kitchen. The world’s most popular canning jars have been a household name since the since the late 1800s and they are still in use today. Nowadays, Ball jars hold everything from sweet iced tea to fresh-cut flowers – they’re not just for canned goods anymore.

Did you know the story behind the world-famous Ball jar lies right here in Indiana? Minnetrista in Muncie is known as the “home of the Ball jar” because its multiacre campus was once home to the five Ball brothers and their families.

“No matter what time of year it is, there’s always something new and cool to discover at Minnetrista,” Sam Condon, communication specialist, says. “In our main building, visitors of all ages can explore our latest exhibits and Heritage Collection Gallery, play on the Imagination Playground or even check out a seasonal Explorer Bag for adventures all over campus. Next door in The Orchard Shop at Minnetrista, you can browse products from over 75 local artists and vendors, and in the fall, you can enjoy the best apple cider in town.”


The George A. Ball home. Photo courtesy of Flickr user David Ellis

The Ball Family’s Impact on Muncie

Upcoming Events at Minnetrista

Summer Stage Fest at Minnetrista: “America’s Hometown Band”
July 4, 8 p.m.
Free community event

Faeries, Sprites, & Lights
July 26-28, 5-9 p.m.
Cost: $8; $7 member; $6 presale through July 16
Kids 2 and under free

Summer Stage Fest at Minnetrista: “Picnic & Pops with the Muncie Symphony Orchestra”
Aug. 23, 7 p.m.
Free community event

Minnetrista, which means a “gathering place by the water,” is part of the legacy of the Ball family. The Minnetrista Heritage Collection includes 25,000 artifacts and 2,000 linear feet of material, about half of which is made up of Ball family and company materials.

“The Ball brothers built a branch factory in Muncie in 1887 and made their first glass product here in March 1888,” says Karen Vincent, director of collections at Minnetrista. “Originally, the brothers didn’t intend to close their factory in Buffalo, New York, but eventually decided to do so. By the late 1890s, all five brothers and their wives were living in Muncie.”

The Ball company thrived in Indiana. By 1900, Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Co. was the largest producer of canning jars in the world, becoming a major employer in the region.

“The brothers and their wives were community-oriented and became involved in many organizations, giving generously of their time and money,” Vincent says. “The family was involved in the arts, both visual and performing. They also gave generously to a number of churches, even those they did not attend.”


Photo by Jeff Adkins

Two major entities bear the Ball family name: Ball State University and IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital. The family also provided funding for Minnetrista and several other organizations, including the YMCA and Camp Crosley.

“Even though glass manufacturing ended in Muncie in 1962 and the headquarters were moved to Colorado in 1998, the Ball family continues to have a presence and influence in the area,” Vincent says. “Ball Brothers Foundation and George and Frances Ball Foundation regularly grant more than $7 million yearly to organizations in Indiana, including Minnetrista.”

Plan Your Trip

Consider a day trip to Muncie to take in all Minnetrista offers. In 2018, Minnetrista is renovating and installing an exhibit in the George and Frances Ball family home, which will share stories of the family, specifically their love of books, literature and collecting. The exhibit will be an interactive experience for the entire family.

The vast campus of Minnetrista also includes the Cardinal Greenway, perfect for a stroll, and various themed gardens.

“Visitors are impressed when they discover how much there is to do here,” Condon says. “There’s always something new to discover, explore, learn about and enjoy together.”


Photo by Jeffrey S. Otto

During the summer months through October, the Farmers Market at Minnetrista is held every Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon. Two exhibits opening in summer 2018 include “Dinosaur Discoveries: Ancient Fossils, New Ideas” (through July 29) and Chad Pregracke’s “Message in a Bottle Collection” (through September 30). Kids can enroll in summer camps at Minnetrista with themes such as junior chefs, glass artists and creative arts.

If You Go...

Minnetrista is located at 1200 N. Minnetrista Parkway in Muncie. The exhibits and orchard are open year round, Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The Nature Area and Oakhurst Gardens are open April through October, Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is $5. To learn more, visit minnetrista.net or call 765-282-4848.

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