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200 North Main St | Bloomington, Illinois | 309-827-0428
Senior Reminiscence Program

What is a Senior Reminiscence Program?

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 older adults 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.

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

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

Play It Again: The Toys and Games We Remember

Participants travel back in time as they remember (and play with) their favorite toys and games. Seniors can experience a variety of objects from the 1920s through the 1960s, including marbles, toy soldiers, kaleidoscopes, roller skates, wind-up toys, and much more!

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A member of the Education department shows a photo to a group of seniors.

Photo Reminiscence

Participants examine enlarged historical photos from throughout the local area and are encouraged to chat about cruising on Route 66, shopping in downtown Bloomington, dining at Steak 'n Shake, and visiting other places from their past. Over 180 photos are available for this program, which can be repeated several times. Thematic programs are available upon request, including Route 66, Normal, El Paso & Gridley, and Holidays.

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Tools of the Trade

This program explores tools from the late 1800s to today. Included are devices used on the farm, in the office, or at the grocery store. Reminisce about times past with memories of the old hand drill, candlestick telephone, scythe, typewriter, and hog scraper!

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Well-Dressed Folks About Town

Participants share memories about fashion trends, habits, and styles that were popular in their lifetime by looking at clothing, advertisements, and other objects from 1920 to 1960.

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What's Cooking? Gadgets from Around the Kitchen

The kitchen was (and still is) the center of life in any household. This program features a wide variety of kitchen objects, from cherry pitters to milk bottles, cake pans to coffee tins, aprons to cookbooks. The list goes on and on!

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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