¡Fiesta! A Celebration of Mexican Popular Art featured over 150 pieces of art made by the people of Mexico, including ceramics, textiles, papier maché, lacquerware, basketry, carved wood, leather, glass, and more from every region of the country. Click here to see what people thought about the exhibit through postcards. Click here to see photos from the exhibit opening.
Arthur Low Pillsbury was Bloomington's most prolific architect. In Bloomington alone Pillsbury designed over 300 homes between 1892 and 1925. His work also included churches, libraries, and businesses. The exhibit detailed the life and work of Pillsbury, and showcased many of the hand colored architectural renderings of the 104 schools he designed.
The contents of Adlai Stevenson's boyhood home reflect his upbringing — the experience of being a member of two historic and politically involved Bloomington families, of growing up in an environment that reflected deep family roots, world travel, and popular trends in interior decoration. His upbringing in this home also shaped who he would become as an adult — a governor of the State of Illinois, a two time Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States, and a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. When the home was donated to the McLean County Historical Society, it came with family treasures, including antique furniture, travel mementos, and decorative objects collected by various members of the family. This exhibit featured some of the treasures from this unique home and family.
McLean County's stately Renaissance style courthouse, with its beautiful copper dome and stately columns, symbolizes the ideals of power and democracy. This exhibit explores the history and construction of this building and the three courthouses used by McLean County government prior to its construction in 1903.
Interested in knowing more? See The Old McLean County Courthouse, by Greg Koos, with photos by Lori Ann Cook-Neissler in the Museum's gift shop.
The way we eat and drink today differs dramatically from the ways of previous generations. This exhibit explored the food traditions and practices of McLean County's past and examined how these practices changed the way we eat today.
Interested in knowing more? Purchase Come & Get It, by guest Curator Dr. Robert Dirks, in the Museum gift shop.
This exhibit explored the history of the Kickapoo Indians ---- their movements across the prairie, their lifeways, their interactions with early settlers, and their forced removal to reservations west of the Mississippi River. It features the photographs commissioned by Milo Custer, an early curator for the McLean County Historical Society, whose efforts to document these people resulted in a body of work that reveals their history and culture.
As the American frontier expanded into the prairies of the Midwest, a voracious appetite for tree planting arose. F. K. Phoenix, who opened his Bloomington Nursery in 1852, possessed a love of nature and a missionary zeal to plant the prairies. In 1867, having established the largest nursery in the “West", he hired artist William Henry Prestele to oversee the design and production of exquisite hand-colored lithographs for the trade. The Prestele family pioneered this art form in America. Their carefully produced lithographs, combined with the boundless enthusiasm of Phoenix created a potent force for the planting of the prairies. This exhibit of their prints and the story of Phoenix's nursery provide an intimate window into the plants and people that helped shape an American landscape.
Want to know more about this topic? Purchase our exhibit catalog, Gifts to the Prairie, by Daryl Watson in the Museum gift shop.
The Vietnam War was both a foreign and domestic crisis for the United States. Almost 60,000 Americans and millions of Vietnamese died in the war, while the conflict provoked intense protests, debates and violence at home. This exhibit explored: how and why did the U.S. government get involved in Vietnam; how did local citizens and those serving in Vietnam felt about the war; how feelings changed as the war intensified; and why U.S. involvement continued even after antiwar protests escalated and the general public demanded an end to the war.
From a sausage stuffer to a tin can xylophone, a hatchel to a crocodile skin purse, this interactive exhibit tested visitors knowledge of some of the more unusual objects in the museum's collections.
Since their arrival in the 1840s, African Americans have helped to shape this community. This exhibit tells the story of their strong drive for independence which aided them in achieving success in business, securing political positions and attaining personal honor in service to the country; examines the actions they took against racial injustices in order to gain the rights and privileges due all citizens; and looks at how they nurtured one another by expressing their beliefs and celebrating the uniqueness of their culture.
Want to know more? Purchase the exhibit companion book Presence, Pride, and Passion, by Susan Hartzold and Laura Wheaton in our giftshop. Or, explore the Bloomington-Normal Black History Project oral history interviews in the Museum's archives.
This fun exhibit explored the history of hats and shoes in American popular culture and featured many pieces from the Museum's collection.
Faced with ever changing conditions the people of Central Illinois struggled to best utilize the resources available to them and ultimately survive the hardships of the Depression. Featuring over 300 artifacts and images, this exhibit revealed the ups and downs of the road during the Great Depression in McLean County.
Want to know more? Purchase the exhibit companion publication, Journey through the Great Depression, by Susan Hartzold and Laura Wheaton. Or investigate the Depression oral history interviews conducted for this exhibit in the Museum's archives.
This exhibit featured 75 large-scale photographs by railroad photographers Steve Smedley and Bruce Meyer, and from the Pantagraph Negative Collection.
This exhibit featured the work of Bloomington Photographer Ken Kashian. The stunning imagery included up-close details of some of Downtown Bloomington's and its surrounding areas most interesting buildings.
Bloomington Public Library holds a large collection of art often unseen by the general public. This exhibit featured many of those unseen pieces.
As far back as history has been recorded there have been toys—toys to rattle and throw, toys to push and pull, toys to shoot and wind, and toys to spin and ride. This exhibit showcases a broad range of toys from the 19th and 20th century and provides insight into the culture, technology, and history of bygone days.
Bloomington's Favorite son become a national figure in the political world, running for president twice, and eventually become the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Want to know more? Check out the Museum's website www.adlaitoday.org/
Before the smoke cleared on the events of September 11, 2001, the response by McLean County residents was both immediate and generous. Attempts to raise money for victims, candlelight vigils, special banners and trips by local volunteers to assist with recovery efforts were all part of the efforts made by McLean County residents. On the 1-year anniversary of 9-11 this exhibit told the story of the attack and the efforts made by local citizens. It also honored the victims of the September 11th attacks.
County soldiers were involved in every key battle of the Civil War. This
exhibit tells of their efforts and the efforts of those at home, through
stories, images, maps and artifacts. The
exhibit also includes a detailed timeline of Civil War battles, interspersed
with local happenings as reported by the local newspaper the Weekly Pantagraph.
Want to know more? Purchased the companion book to the
exhibit, to Sustain the Union by
Susan Hartzold and Laura Wheaton in the Museum's gift shop, or It Has Begun: The Pantagraph Reports the
Civil War, by Don Munson in the Museum's gifts hop.
Everyone would like to be somehow connected to someone they look up to or idolize. In this exhibit we examine items in the Museum's collection whose donors say belonged to, or were used by our 16th President Abraham Lincoln. Using in-depth research the exhibit examined and revealed the truth to each claim.
A lighthearted look at McLean County in the 1950s through the eyes of McLean County residents.
Want to know more about this topic? View the Growing up in the 50s oral history interviews conducted for this project in the Museum's archives.
The vast array of products Made in McLean County offer a fascinating glimpse of changing economic and social conditions in our community. From the 19th century craft worker's hand-made tools and clothing to today's high tech production, local residents have applied their skills as backyard tinkers, business visionaries and hard-working laborers. The human experiences represented in this exhibit include the stories of dreamers, inventors, businessmen, union leaders and workers.
Want to know more about this topic? See the ABCs of Manufacturing, and other manuscripts written by Mike Matejka in the Museum's archives.
This exhibit explores the history of corn growing in McLean County. Area farmers consistently produces more corn than any other county in the United States. Corn has been the primary crop of this area since the Native American woodland people lived here over 500 years ago. White settlement of McLean County was primarily the result of farmers seeking good corn land. Corn provided the backbone of McLean County's wealth through the 19th century. In the 20th century McLean County lead the way in the development and adoption of scientifically bred corn, revolutionizing the way corn is produced.
Want to know more about this topic? Purchased the Heart of the Cornbelt, By William Walters, in the Museum gift shop, or view the Agriculture Oral Histories conducted for this project in the Museum's archives
An exhibit of 1920s women's costumes and the McLean County women who wore them.
This exhibit takes a detailed look at Route 66 as it crosses McLean County, featuring local stops, sites, and stories of the “Mother Road."
Want to know more about this topic? Purchase the companion publication Route 66: Goin' Somewhere, by Terri Ryburn, from the Museum's gift shop.
Explored the human struggle to preserve health, defeat illness and delay death in McLean County. The efforts of doctors, nurses, patients, hospitals, and health and sanitation departments of the last 150 years are detailed to illustrate how our experience of health, illness and healing has changed as a result of progress in public health, medical science and general living standards.
Want to know more? Purchased the book A matter of Life and Death by guest curator Lucinda McCray Beier in our gift shop.
This exhibit explored the traditions and history of America's longest running Passion Play, still performed annually at Bloomington's Center for the Performing Arts. The exhibit featured costumes and reproductions of the play's beautiful hand painted backdrops.
A look at McLean County home-life during WWII and the efforts made by local citizens during this difficult time.
This exhibit featured the uniforms and equipment used during WWII.
America's young and daring aerialists mastered the art of the trapeze soon after it was introduced to the United in the early 1850's. Among the best of the flying acts in the United States in the late 1800s-early 1900s were many famous artists who called Bloomington/Normal home. They lived, trained and developed new acts right here. They improved upon European developments, and created new and innovative acts, making Bloomington/Normal a major training center — the “aerial artist capital of the world."
An exhibit that explored 19th and 20th century leisure-time outdoor activities in McLean County.
The paisley pattern is ancient, originally developed in Persia to symbolize the tree of life. In this exhibit of beautiful textiles, the use of the paisley pattern in 19th and 20th century clothing was explored.
An exhibit of Quilts from the collection of Harriet Fuller Rust and the McLean County Historical Society
An exhibit of early portraits and fascinating stories as told by McLean County's Early Settlers
Want to know more about McLean County's early settlers? Purchase The Good Old Times in McLean County by John Duis in our gift shop.
Since the transcontinental railroad was first built, the railroad became a part of American culture. Images of trains and worker have been used in movies, art, and product labels and advertisements. This exhibit explores the railroad as an America cultural icon.
Want to know more? Purchase Bloomington's C&A Shops: Our Lives Remembered, by Greg Koos, Mike Matejka, and Mark Wyman in the Museum's gift shop.
Featuring 26 bicycles, this exhibit examined the development and history of the bicycle.