The Bob Ross Experience at Minnetrista

Heather Raulerson

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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.

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.

Minnetrista Information

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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 online 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.

Bob Ross Experience

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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.

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Oakhurst

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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.

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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!

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Summary

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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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Freelance travel writer and photographer who loves sharing her adventures from around the world. It is never too late to pursue your dream!

Rochester Hills, MI
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