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

Tuesday, February 1

Old Time Music jam session- every Tuesday evening

Starts at 5:00 PM

Join the Old Time Music group every Tuesday from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the Museum. A laid back and diverse group of musicians that try to get together once a week. The genre of music they play is called Oldtime, which is the music from the Appalachia region of the U.S. from before the time of radio and phonograph. People would play these “fiddle tunes” at house parties and square dances. Some of the tunes originally come from Scotland and Ireland. There are pockets of Oldtime players all over the U.S. and Canada. The music is mostly unwritten and learned and played by ear. They welcome any instrument to come and play, but the group is primarily composed of fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and banjo. All are welcome to come and play with them or just come and listen!

For more information, please contact the Museum’s Marketing Department at marketing@mchistory.org or (309) 827-0428.

Tuesday, February 1

History Reads Book Club: Stealing Lincoln's Body

Starts at 7:00 PM

All avid readers are welcome to join the Museum and Bloomington Public Library on Tuesday, February 1 at 7:00 p.m. for the fist installment of the History Reads Book Club for 2022. We will meet online via Zoom to discuss Stealing Lincoln’s Body by Thomas Craughwell . Visit bit.ly/bplhistory222 to register for this free, online discussion.

On the night of the presidential election in 1876, a gang of counterfeiters out of Chicago attempted to steal the entombed embalmed body of Abraham Lincoln and hold it for ransom. The custodian of the tomb was so shaken by the incident that he willingly dedicated the rest of his life to protecting the president’s corpse.

In a lively and dramatic narrative, Thomas J. Craughwell returns to this bizarre, and largely forgotten, event with the first book to place the grave robbery in historical context. He takes us through the planning and execution of the crime and the outcome of the investigation. He describes the reactions of Mary Todd Lincoln and Robert Todd Lincoln to the theft―and the peculiar silence of a nation. He follows the unlikely tale of what happened to Lincoln’s remains after the attempted robbery, and details the plan devised by the Lincoln Guard of Honor to prevent a similar abominable recurrence.

Along the way, Craughwell offers entertaining sidelights on the rise of counterfeiting in America and the establishment of the Secret Service to combat it; the prevalence of grave robberies; the art of nineteenth-century embalming; and the emergence among Irish immigrants of an ambitious middle class―and a criminal underclass.

This rousing story of hapless con men, intrepid federal agents, and ordinary Springfield citizens who honored their native son by keeping a valuable, burdensome secret for decades offers a riveting glimpse into late-nineteenth-century America, and underscores that truth really is sometimes stranger than fiction.

To request a copy of the book, please contact the Reference Desk at Bloomington Public library at 309-590-6168 or email reference@bloomingtonlibrary.org.

Friday, February 4

First Friday: Tour de Chocolat

Starts at 5:00 PM

The Museum is pleased to once again participate in this annual Downtown Bloomington tradition by offering locally made chocolate treats generously provided by two of our community partners, RGW Candy Company and BEER NUTS Brand Snacks, on Friday, February 4 from 5:00 until 8:00 p.m. And if your sweet tooth isn’t satisfied after sampling, you can purchase some in our Visitors Center to take home with you too!

While you are here, make sure to explore the Museum’s exhibits on the first floor and stop by our make-n-take table to create your own DIY Fabric Hearts! And don’t forget to snap a selfie in front of our Heart Downtown photo op! Thanks to Palace Events for lighting up the Museum Square to really put the love in the air!

This years event is sponsored by Ferrero. Find other Tour de Chocolat stops on the Downtown Bloomington website at downtownbloomington.org.

Thursday, February 10

Zoom Lunch & Learn: The NAACP was relevant then, now and forever more!

Starts at 12:10 PM

On Thursday, February 10 at 12:10pm join the Museum and Illinois Wesleyan University for the sixth Zoom Lunch & Learn of the season. Local leaders of the Adult Branch and the Youth Council President will discuss the rich history and lasting legacy associated with the NAACP.

As the world’s largest, boldest and oldest Civil Rights’ organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in 1909. The NAACP was chartered as a result of the race riot in Springfield, Illinois. Several Black men were then rushed to Bloomington, Illinois–to avoid being lynched. The panel will discuss the NAACP’s involvement in past and current Civil Rights’ issues. Additionally, history was made again, as the NAACP Youth Council was officially chartered in August of 2021.

To register for this free, zoom webinar, please follow this link: https://bit.ly/MCMHFebLL. Questions? Please contact the Marketing Department at marketing@mchistory.org. Grab your lunch and join us from where ever you may be! You won’t want to miss this fascinating program.

Saturday, February 19

Writing the 19th Century in the 21st Century with Greg Koos at the David Davis Mansion

Starts at 3:30 PM
1000 Monroe Drive, Bloomington, IL 61701

The Museum, in partnership with the David Davis Mansion, is pleased to present Writing the 19th Century in the 21st Century with Greg Koos. This free program about the writing of Koos’ new book, Freedom, Land, and Community: A History of McLean County Illinois, 17301900, will be held on Saturday, February 19 at 3:30 p.m. at the David Davis Mansion.

Freedom, Land, and Community: A History of McLean County Illinois, 17301900 tells the story of the diverse peoples and events of this county. Using sources contemporary with the events described, it relates the struggle to shape the land, build community, and secure freedom as these communities knew and defined it. Native peoples, women and men, African Americans, Irish and German immigrants all sought and contested for their freedom. People whose voices have not been heard in previous works about Central Illinois are included here.

Greg Koos served and led the McLean County Museum of History in Bloomington, Illinois from 1977 to 2016. His work there was recognized with numerous state and national awards. His historical research has been published in the United States and Ireland. Koos lives with his wife, Carol, in his hometown of Bloomington, Illinois.

Copies of Freedom, Land, and Community: A History of McLean County Illinois, 17301900 will be available for purchase for $54.95 plus tax.

PLEASE NOTE: The Museum and the David Davis Mansion State Historic Site follow all current health and safety guidelines according to the Restore Illinois Phased Plan for Reopening and CDC Guidelines. Registration is required to attend and capacity for this event is limited to 25 people. All program participants will be required to wear a facial covering over both the nose and mouth for the duration of the program regardless of vaccination status, per Illinois State mandates and current CDC guidelines.

This program will be held in the Lincoln Era Barn, located behind the David Davis Mansion. Parking is located on the mansion grounds on the right side of the ring road. To register for this program, please click this link. For more information or questions, please contact the Museum’s Education Department at 309-827-0428 or education@mchistory.org.

Monday, February 21

Free Admission: Presidents' Day

Starts at 9:00 AM

Visitors of all ages are invited to spend a day off with FREE admission all day in recognition of Presidents’ Day. Get excited to get out the vote this midterm election year with some voting-inspired activities. 

Thursday, February 24

Presence, Pride, and Passion: Black History in McLean County

Starts at 6:00 PM

Presence, Pride, and Passion: Black History in McLean County with Jeff Woodard and Hannah Johnson. Join Museum staff for an exploration of the founding of the Bloomington-Normal Black History Project (BNBHP) and the ways that local Black history, both preserved and in the making, continues to inform and inspire programming for learners of all ages.

From the arrival of the first African Americans in McLean County in 1835 to the present, the growth and development of the Bloomington-Normal community has been influenced by the activities and efforts of its Black citizens. In 1982, the BNBHP, under the leadership of Dr. Mildred Pratt, was founded to preserve the tangible evidence of this impact through the collection of oral histories (numbering in the 80s), archival materials, and objects.

To register for this paid program in collaboration with Continuing Education at Heartland Community College, click here. Cost is $15. Capacity is limited to 20 participants. Program will be presented at Heartland Community College (WDC 2004 Classroom).

Saturday, February 26

pt. fwd presents Lia Kohl and Macie Stewart

Starts at 7:00 PM

The Museum is pleased to partner once again with pt.fwd, a non-profit that organizes contemporary music and sonic arts performances featuring new work by local and regional artists in Bloomington-Normal. The first performance for 2022 will feature Lia Kohl and Macie Stewart. The live, free, in-person performance with Kohl will take place on Saturday, February 26 at 7:00 p.m. at the Museum. Registration is required and attendance is limited to 40 people. Please click this link to fill out the google form to sign up to participate. 

Lia Kohl and Macie Stewart are a Chicago-based duo creating freely improvised music that explores rich harmonies, timbres, and textures. Starting from the quartet of their two voices, cello, and violin, the duo’s varied sound centers curiosity and an uncanny receptivity to each other. They have recorded two albums, Pocket Full of Bees (2019) and Recipe for a Boiled Egg (2020), both on Astral Spirits. Downbeat magazine calls their music “more filling than a four course meal”.

Macie Stewart and Lia Kohl’s recent duo performances are site-specific works exploring acoustics, distance, and playful interaction with new environments. Over the course of several years, the duo is creating a series of pieces performed in various locations throughout the Midwest, testing the elasticity of their intuitive connection and finding new ways to interact with and react to their environments, whether lakeside lighthouses, bridges under a highway, or cavernous buildings.

You can hear Stewart and Kohl’s music here: https://asstewartkohl.bandcamp.com/album/recipe-for-a-boiled-egg

Covid 19 Attendance Policy for Indoor Music Performance

For this partner program, all in-person attendees of this musical performance must show proof of either full vaccination—OR—a negative COVID-19 test performed within 72 hours prior to entry. Patrons will be asked to show their valid vaccination card or test result (photocopies or digital copies on your phone are permissible) alongside a government-issued ID (to confirm identity) when they arrive at the door. Types of “negative” COVID-19 testing allowed include: Rapid “Shield” tests, PCR tests, or Over-The-Counter Antigen tests.

All patrons will be required to wear a facial covering over both the nose and mouth for the duration of the performance regardless of vaccination status, per Illinois State mandates and current CDC guidelines.

The Museum continues to monitor the conditions that surround the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and how these conditions will impact our ability to hold future in-person programs. As long as current health and safety guidelines from the CDC and State of Illinois allow for in-person programming at that time, we plan to host this program in-person at the Museum. Visit mchistory.org for updates on this and other upcoming programs.

For more information, please contact the Education Department at education@mchistory.org or 309-827-0428.