The Bob Ross Experience at Minnetrista

Catalyst & Center Building in Minnetrista

On one of my many road trips to and from St. Louis, I saw a huge billboard with a photo of Bob Ross on it saying the “Bob Ross Experience.” Determined to figure out what it was and visit, I dug into it and found that the Bob Ross Experience was at Minnetrista in Muncie, Indiana. Here is everything you need to know about the Bob Ross Experience.

Catalyst & Center Building in Minnetrista
Bob Ross Experience Sign

I can remember waking up on Saturday mornings and anxiously waiting for the Joy of Painting show to come on. Watching Bob Ross make his painting masterpieces in little less than 30 minutes was amazing to a young girl with artistic tendencies. I was hooked and immediately went out and got painting supplies, so I could do what he did. And to this day, I contribute my passion for painting directly to watching Bob Ross.

One of Bob Ross' Paintings from his Joy of Painting TV show

Minnetrista Information

Columns at Minnetrista

Minnetrista Cultural Center is a 40-acre campus with historic homes, a museum, beautiful gardens, and interactive exhibits throughout. If you plan on visiting the Bob Ross Experience, you’ll have to check-in at the main building first. Then they will direct you to the exhibit. They are open Wednesdays to Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Sundays, the exhibit is open from noon to 5 p.m. Timed tickets for the Bob Ross Experience are available here and are $15/adult, $12/kid (4-12), kids 3 and under are free. Minnetrista can be found at 1200 N. Minnetrista Parkway in Muncie, Indiana.

Welcome Sign in Minnetrista

Bob Ross Experience

Joy of Painting TV Studio

Did you know that The Joy of Painting was filmed in a television studio in the historic Lucius L. Ball home at Minnetrista from 1983-1988? Now, you can tour the actual studio where Bob Ross painted his happy little trees and banged his paintbrush on the side of the easel to get the excess paint off. The exhibit is only two rooms, one is the TV studio, and the other is a living room.

Bob Ross' Joy of Painting Studio

When you walk into the TV studio, you will see the large TV cameras set up around the room, focusing toward the center where Bob Ross would paint. This is an interactive exhibit as you can operate the cameras or put on a painting smock and channel your inner Bob Ross. You’ll see shelves of memorabilia from Bob Ross and his time spent in the studio throughout the room. You will see empty tubes of paint, his 2″ paintbrushes, and the paint-splattered trash can that he used to beat his brush on.

The other room in the exhibit is the living room. It is set up like a traditional 80s living room to represent how we watched his show on TV. The room also has a bookshelf filled with Bob Ross memorabilia like the Bob Ross Chia Pet. Did any of you have that back then?

Did You Know?

One of Bob Ross' winter landscape paintings

Bob Ross was a very soft-spoken guy, which I think is why millions tuned in to his show. Not everyone painted along with him, but they enjoyed listening and watch him paint. With all of his popularity, there are some things I didn’t even know until I visited the exhibit. Did you know that his iconic hairstyle was for cost-cutting measures? He permed his hair because he thought it would be easy to manage. To his producer’s chagrin, it became the symbol for Bob Ross. A couple of other interesting facts are that Bob Ross was in the Air Force and that he lost a finger when he was younger in a woodworking accident with his dad. You couldn’t tell because he hid it by holding his palette in that hand.

Bob Ross Mountain and Lake painting

Did you know that Bob taught students in person how to paint like him? Those lucky artists learned all of his painting techniques, including reinterpreting perceived mistakes as “happy little accidents.” On the TV studio floor, I mistakenly thought they were Bob Ross paintings, but they were actually paintings from his students over the years.

Backyard Garden

Backyard Garden at the L.L. Ball Home

Once you are finished touring the TV studio, take a look at the Backyard Garden behind the Lucius L. Ball home. I can imagine that in the springtime, this is a great place for kids to run around and hide in the upside-down pots. This is a very creative and peaceful area with rocks designed to be turtles and butterfly benches for you to sit by the pond.

The Ball Family

L.L. Ball Home in Minnetrista

The five Ball brothers, Lucius Lorenzo, William Charles, Edmund Burke, Frank Clayton, and George Alexander Ball, moved to Muncie between 1888 and 1897. In 1894, Frank, Edmund, and George purchased thirty acres around the White River. The Ball sisters, Lucina and Frances, named the property ‘Minnetrista.’ Over 13 years up to 1907, the brothers constructed the historic homes along the Minnetrista Boulevard, so their families could live and grew up next to each other. Their homes and gardens are impressive! I can imagine what it would have been like to grow up in these mansions back in the early 1900s. Absolutely wonderful!

Oakhurst

Oakhurst Home & Gardens in Minnetrista

After visiting the Bob Ross Experience, your ticket includes a self-guided tour of the magnificent Oakhurst home and a Bob Ross painting gallery exhibit. The exhibit has a collection of Bob Ross Paintings given to the exhibit by friends and family. You can’t take photos of the exhibit’s paintings, but it was a joy to walk around and admire his work and the stories of who Bob Ross gave those paintings to.

Bob Ross' Paintings from the Joy of Painting exhibit
Entrance Parlor to Oakhurst

After wandering around the Bob Ross at home: Artist, Teacher, Friend exhibit, I spent considerable time exploring Oakhurst. This home was amazing, with its collection of over 10,000 books spread everywhere. Of course, a good amount is in the library, but you can find books all over the house. Books are under teacups, stacked on the floor; even stacks of them are sitting in the fireplaces. I love this house!

Oakhurst had secret swinging doors leading out to hidden sunrooms and little nooks and crannies fun to find. In the kitchen, they had on display canning recipes from back in the early 1900s. So cool! There were mementos and photos spread around like someone was going through a memory box in the dining room.

Secret Door to Sunroom in Oakhurst

Summary

Heather at Bob Ross' TV studio in Minnetrista

If you are passing through Muncie, you should stop in and check out Minnetrista. I would love to go back in the spring to see the gardens all in bloom and bring my camera next time! It was so much fun exploring Minnetrista and visiting the Bob Ross Experience. Even with social distancing practices and wearing masks the whole time, it was worth the visit! Visiting the Bob Ross Experience was a bucket list item that I didn’t even know that I had, almost like meeting my idol (after passing away, unfortunately). Have you visited Minnetrista yet?

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Further Reading

If you are coming to Indiana for a visit, check out these posts for extra travel inspiration:

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