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

Visitors

Where are you located?

We occupy the entire c.1903 courthouse in the heart of Downtown Bloomington. Our address is 200 N Main St, Bloomington Illinois, 61701, but our entrance is on Washington Street.

What are your hours?

Mon. - Sat. 9 a.m. — 5 p.m.
Tue. 9 a.m. — 9 p.m.
Sun. 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. May-September. The Museum is closed Sundays from October-April

Where do I park?

Street parking around the Museum is free but limited to 90 minutes, and this is strictly enforced by the city. If traveling by car, we suggest parking in the Lincoln Parking Deck located on the corner of Front Street and Main Street, one block south of the Museum. Parking is $1 per hour during the day M-F, and free after 6pm and on weekends. Parking is also available in a garage three blocks north of the Museum on the corner of Center Street and Market Street. Parking there is free for the first four hours.

What exhibits do you have?

See the exhibits page for more information. We have 5 permanent galleries: Making a Home, Farming in the Great Corn Belt, Work, Abraham Lincoln in McLean County, and Politics. Our visitors center features an exhibit about Abraham Lincoln and Route 66. Throughout the building there are informational panels about the building history and architecture. The third floor includes a hands-on Pioneer Discovery Room and two galleries for temporary exhibits.

How long does it take to see everything?

As is the case with most museums, the amount of time will depend on the visitor. Most visitors spend between 1.5 and 2 hours.

Is the visitors center part of the Museum?

Yes, the Cruisin' with Lincoln on 66 Visitors Center is on the ground floor of the Museum. In it there is an exhibit on Route 66 and it is staffed by Museum employees and volunteers. It also serves as the reception desk for the Museum and features a gift shop that features both McLean County history and route 66. It also serves as the reception desk for the Museum and features a gift shop and tourism information about McLean County and Route 66 sites. Visit the Visitors Center website for more info!

How old is the building and how long has the Museum occupied it?

The building, opened in 1903, is the fourth courthouse to exist on this square. It was built after a downtown Bloomington fire in 1900 destroyed the third courthouse. It was an operating courthouse until 1976, when the Law and Justice Center was built on Front Street. The Museum moved into the building in 1991. Read more about our history.

Can I rent out the Museum for events?

Yes. The courtroom, located on the second floor, and the classroom, located on the third floor, can be rented out for events. Please contact Jeff Woodard by email or phone at (309) 827-0428, or visit our private rentals page for more information.

I am a professional photographer. Can I take photos in the Museum?

Yes, for a fee. Please contact Jeff Woodard by email or phone at (309) 827-0428 for more information.

Membership

How much do memberships cost?

We have various membership levels for all income types. See our membership page for more information!

Does a McLean County Historical Society membership get me discounts at other Museums?

Yes! As a MCHS member you get free or discounted admission to 300+ historic sites and museums (including the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, and Peoria Riverfront Museum) through the Time Travelers reciprocal membership program. See the full list here.

Researchers

When is the research library open?

Mon. - Sat. 9 a.m. — 5 p.m.
Tue. 9 a.m. — 9 p.m.
Closed Sundays

You must pay admission to the Museum to access the library. The Museum is free Tuesdays.

Is your book collection searchable online?

Yes, via RSA CAT.

Do you have city directories?

Yes, from 1855 to present.

What resources do you have for genealogists?

  • Computer and internet access
  • Access to Ancestry online
  • Death and cemetery records
  • Birth and marriage records
  • Surname files
  • City directories and yearbooks
  • Newspaper index file
  • Plat books
  • Genealogy reference books
  • Searchable archives

See our online resources to see what we have available through our website. See the library page for more on our library holdings. See the archives page for more on our archival collections.

Donations

Can I donate an object to the Museum?

Absolutely! Please call the curator at (309) 827-0428 to make an appointment before you bring an object for donation, and be prepared to answer lots of questions about the object’s owner and its history. Our collections are fantastic because of the generous donations people make!

What kinds of objects does the Museum collect?

The Museum collects objects, photographs, ledgers, books, and more relating to the history of McLean County. If it was made or used by someone who lived in McLean County it could go into the collection. See the objects page or archives page for more information.

Do you appraise items?

No, we do not. But we'd be happy to find you an appraiser. Contact the Curator.

Educators

What is the cost of a guided educational program?

Free! Donations are gladly accepted.

How far in advance should I schedule a program?

At least two (2) weeks. Contact the Education Department to schedule a program.

Volunteers & Interns

What kind of volunteer projects are available?

There's a big variety! Some people volunteer regularly at reception/gift shop desk and the library reference desk. Some volunteers lend their expertise by helping with education outreach, archiving, or another special project. There are also volunteers with limited time who join us just for annual events such as Evergreen Cemetery Walk or Christmas at the Courthouse. If you're interested, email our Director of Volunteers and Interns.

How many hours are required by an internship?

The Museum’s internships (whether for credit or not for credit) require 175 hours over the course of a semester.