200 North Main Street | Bloomington, Illinois | 309-827-0428
About > History


The McLean County Museum of History traces its roots back to 1892, the year the McLean County Historical Society was founded. It is a nationally accredited award winning museum with five permanent exhibit galleries and two rotating galleries.

This educational institution is dedicated to telling the rich story of McLean County through programs which serve people of all ages.

The museum features seven exhibit galleries, preserves more than 20,000 objects, makes available more than 15,000 rare and hard-to-find books on local history and genealogy, and manages 2,000 feet of historical papers and images in its archives.

American Alliance of Museums Accredited Museum Emblem


Scroll through this timeline to learn more about our institutional history. Further down the page, read a message from our director, and view our mission and vision.

Message From Our Director

Welcome to the McLean County Museum of History!

The McLean County Museum of History is a place which strives to be open to one and all. We believe that to know where we are, we must know where we have been and who made the places that we call home. We invite you to explore these themes in our beautiful exhibits and our new Cruisin’ with Lincoln on 66 Visitors Center located on the ground floor of our historic 1903 Courthouse.

Our galleries offer an intimate space to learn about local history and often we find multiple generations teaching and sharing as they explore together. On our website you can also explore our holdings in the Stevenson-Ives Library and our Archives, located on our second floor, which house more than 13,000 books and periodicals with a focus on McLean County and Central Illinois history and genealogy. Our longstanding partnership with the McLean County Genealogical Society is another asset you might find useful in your research.

The work we do matters and it is made possible by support from private donors, members, and volunteers from across the region. We would be honored to have you join as a Museum supporter today! Click here to learn more.

We are an Illinois not-for-profit corporation that partners with the County of McLean to give this grand old building a new life filled with the joys of learning, sharing, and discovering where we fit in the big picture of local, national, and global history. McLean County is a special place indeed! Come visit us soon.


Beth Whisman
Executive Director

Vision Statement

The McLean County Historical Society is to be an essential element in the cultural and educational fabric of this region. Centered in the magnificent Old McLean County Courthouse our programs will tell the rich stories of past generations and new and growing communities. We will provide opportunities for public reflection on our heritage of hopes, triumphs and failures. We will accomplish this through discovering and saving the tangible evidence of the past. Most importantly, we will share our many stories through excellence in exhibition, education and publishing, along with providing our community with opportunities to participate in the work of a historical museum and library.

Adopted by the Board of Directors December 17, 1996


In accordance with the Statement of Purpose, Article II of the Constitution, adopted by the McLean County Historical Society; it is the Mission of this society to educate the general public on the history of the people of McLean County by operating museums and libraries which provide exhibits, public programs and research collections; to develop publications; and to acquire and preserve collections which reflect the diversity of McLean County. This Mission is implemented through the accomplishment of the following:

  • To educate the public through the interpretive exhibition of objects and to develop public educational programs in association with the people and institutions of our community.
  • To acquire, in conformance with the collections policy, objects, papers, periodicals, and books which reflect all segments of the community and to preserve these collections through proper storage and conservation measures, and to exhibit them in secure environments.
  • To support research in local and family history by making books, manuscripts, and databases accessible and to support the same by providing the professional staff assistance and guidance in the course of such research.
  • To publish popular and scholarly works.
  • To encourage public support of the museum through donation of time and money by all segments of the community.
  • To interpret and to encourage the preservation of historic buildings and sites.
  • To continually pursue professional standards through participation in state and national museum and heritage organizations and to remain an American Association of Museums (AAM) accredited institution.

Approved by the Board of Directors September 20, 1995.