Tucked away in a storage room on the lower level of the Indianapolis Children’s Museum between the dinosaur and railroad exhibits is the memorabilia that marked the life of Ryan White.

Neatly stacked on wooden shelves are boxes, furniture and objects that once filled the bedroom of White’s Cicero home.

White, a native of Kokomo, died in 1990 at the age of 18 after contracting AIDS through a blood transfusion.

The Children’s Museum will have White’s bedroom, just as he left it for a final trip to a hospital, on display starting in 2007 as part of the Power of Children display.

Despite White’s rise to national prominence in the fight to raise AIDS awareness, the mementos from his bedroom show that he was like any other teenager.

There are his fuzzy slippers, complete with bear claws, baseball caps and his collection of GI Joe toys. Stored in boxes are cards and letters that White received from around the world.

“This is very exciting,” said Andrea Hughes, educator and curator for the American Collection at the museum. “The bedroom is the inspiration for the exhibit. This is unique, everything that was in the bedroom is here.”

Hughes said Ryan’s mother, Jeannie White-Ginder, contacted the museum to see about donating the items for an exhibit.

It took several days for museum officials to pack and catalogue all the items and photograph and measure the bedroom.

“The exhibit will display the bedroom as close as possible,” Hughes said. “It will allow visitors to walk through the room.”

Other permanent displays in the Power of Children exhibit will be a replica of the rooms where Anne Frank and her family hid during the German occupation of Amsterdam during World War II and the New Orleans classroom where Ruby Bridges became the first black to attend classes in an all-white school in the 1950s.

Museum officials conducted a brainstorming session to determine how the exhibit could best illustrate the importance of White’s fight with AIDS.

“We wanted people to know that AIDS struck Ryan without warning and changed not only his life, but how people came to view the disease,” she said.

White’s mother said she is excited about the exhibit.

“It will focus on discrimination issues with children,” White-Ginder said. “It was kind of hard to let go of Ryan’s bedroom. But it is being put to a good cause.”

Hughes handles the boxes with care.

“My favorite item is the fuzzy slippers,” Hughes said. “He wore these all the time because he would be cold as a result of the disease.”

There also are notes that a nurse at Riley Hospital for Children would leave for White during his time spent in the Indianapolis facility.

“It was a surprise to me that the bedroom was still there, just as it was on the day he left for the last time,” Hughes said. “It was hard for [Jeannie White-Ginder] to see us pack it up.

“It was a very moving experience to me,” she said. “To walk into that bedroom and talk to Jeannie about what was there. We hope our visitors will be moved by walking through the recreated bedroom.”

In a large box is a number of GI Joe tanks, jeeps, airplanes and action figures. Off to the side is a basketball autographed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

“It looked like a regular teenager’s room,” Hughes said. “He was a typical kid.”

Ken de la Bastide can be reached at (765) 454 -8580 or via e-mail at ken.delabastide@kokomotribune.com

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