What is a Senior Reminiscence Program?

A Senior Reminiscence Program from the McLean County Museum of History brings museum educators directly to your facility at no cost to you. Using authentic objects, photographs, and inquiry-based facilitation, we encourage seniors to:

Recall memories, thoughts, and feelings of past life experiences through the handling of familiar artifacts and photos.
Share these experiences by telling stories, asking questions, and making connections.
Understand that, by sharing their memories, they are actively contributing toward the preservation of a larger community identity.
Connect with other program participants (including staff and each other) in a way that reinforces the notion that all participants possess—to some degree—a shared history.

Click here for a PDF of our Senior Reminiscence Program brochure.

  • Items in kit
  • Play It Again: The Toys and Games We Remember
  • This program will take participants back in time to their childhood and help them remember their favorite toys and games. It includes a variety of toys and games from the 1920s through the 1960s -everything from marbles to toy soldiers, dolls and cars, hobby horses, wind up toys, and more!

  • Photo Reminisence kit
  • Photo Reminiscence
  • Historic photos from throughout McLean County are brought for participants to examine with background information given about each photo. Participants can reminiscence about events such as parades, buildings in downtown Bloomington, restaurants like Steak n' Shake, or places from McLean County’s past. Over 100 photos are included in this program which can be repeated several times.

  • place
  • Tools of the Trade
  • This program explores men’s and women’s tools from the late 1800s until today. Included are tools used on the farm, in the kitchen, in the office, and more. Reminisce about times past with memories of the old hand drill, candle-stick telephone, scythe, typewriter, hog scraper and more!

  • thing
  • Well Dressed Man About Town
  • Society and culture are presented through grooming habits and clothes worn by men from 1920-1940. Seniors share their memories about what trends, habits, and styles were popular in their youth by looking at clothing, advertisements, and other objects from this time period.

  • kitchen gadgets
  • What's Cookin! Gadgets from around the kitchen
  • Program participants will take a trip down memory lane through the kitchen, which was most often the center of life in any household. This program features a wide variety of objects and gadgets commonly found in kitchens in the 20th Century.  From cherry pitters to glass milk bottles, cast-iron skillets to coffee tins, aprons to cookbooks, and more!


The photos and patient, informed facilitation brought up wonderful memories, even in residents who don't often have coherent conversations.

Sugar Creek Alzheimer's Special Care Center – Normal, Illinois

It's really broken a few of our residents out of their shells!

Anglers Manor Apartments – Bloomington, Illinois

The residents really enjoyed seeing the props used for that era; it helped them to be able to connect and to retrieve past memories.

Heritage Health – Bloomington, Illinois

Using actual objects and allowing the residents to hold and manipulate involving many senses, trigger vivid personal stories.

Westminster Village – Bloomington, Illinois

The program's enlarged photographs and accompanying cultural artifacts … evoked deep-seated memories in virtually all of the participants. For over an hour residents were offered imaginative avenues into a past that continues to live in and through them.

Michael Verde, Founder and President of the Memory Bridge: The Foundation of Alzheimer's and Cultural Memory

How to Schedule a Program

We are able to provide up to 4 programs per year per organization. Please contact us with your desired dates and programs at least 3 weeks in advance. Our programs are FREE. However, if round trip travel from the Museum is greater than 50 miles, we kindly ask for reimbursement at the current standard federal mileage rate. For reservations or for more information, contact the Education Department at (309) 827-0428 or education@mchistory.org.

Please don't wait to schedule. We fill up quickly!