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

Saturday, June 1

Museum at the Market: Burst Your Bubble! Exhibit-related Program, Farmer's Market

Starts at 9:00 AM

Bursting a bubble isn’t fun… unless it makes great art, that is! Join the Museum at the Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market Kids’ Zone (intersection of Jefferson and Center Streets) to see how.

Invent the mini vehicle of your dreams, then paint it using colorful bubbles. Pop and splatter your way to a great design. And cruise away with a one-of-a-kind creation!

This program is free and open to the public. Before you leave downtown, be sure to visit the Museum to explore Pedal Power!, our temporary exhibit featuring the Bruce Callis Pedal Car Collection. Museum admission (and air conditioning) is free until noon. Pedal Power! is generously sponsored by State Farm.

Saturday, June 1

Cogs and Corsets: DIY Goggles Workshop Part 2

Starts at 1:15 PM

Because of overwhelming requests and popularity, we are hosting a second Goggle Making Workshop, which will be on June 1 from 1:15 until 3:15 p.m.!

Goggles! The hallmark of any Steampunk costume! And now you can make your own pair, and customize them to fit your style to prepare for the third annual Cogs and Corsets: A Central Illinois Steampunk Happening, coming up on June 7-9, 2019!

Join us for this two hour workshop during which participants will construct basic goggles that can be customized to their taste. Participants are welcome to bring additional details such as studs, loupes, wires, gears and anything else you can think of.

All materials to construct basic goggles and tools will be provided. Bring your own tool kit if you like. Hot melt glue guns and Exacto blades will be used. Materials fee of $5 is payable at the door (cash only). Workshop is limited to 15 participants (registration required) ages 12 and up. The workshop will be held in the Museum’s third floor classroom. To register for this workshop, please follow this link http://bit.ly/2H0WBix.

Free parking will be available around the Museum Square or at the Lincoln Parking Deck, located one block south of the Museum on Front Street.

Tuesday, June 4

Pedal Power! Story Time: Things That Go Exhibit-related Program

Starts at 10:00 AM

Join us with your 2 to 5 year old for our first-ever Pedal Power! Story Time. This month, we’ll explore THINGS THAT GO!

There are so many ways to get around, like cars, trains, airplanes, and bicycles. How do YOU get from place to place? Vroom!

Children and their grown-ups will join in a car-inspired story, complete an art project, and explore the galleries!

This free program is presented in conjunction with the Museum’s exhibit Pedal Power!, featuring dozens of pedal-powered vehicles from the Bruce Callis Pedal Car Collection. Pedal Power! is sponsored by State Farm.

Tuesday, June 4

Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Starts at 7:00 PM

Because the month of June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, the Museum is pleased to host a program by the Alzheimer’s Association of Bloomington-Normal. Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. It is a devastating disease of the brain that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior.  

Join us on Tuesday, June 4 at 7:00 p.m. as we welcome Jami King, a Community Educator with the Alzheimer’s Association, who will discuss the differences between Alzheimer’s and Dementia and the impact these two diseases can have on us all. This free, public program will also explore the stages and risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease, discuss current research and treatment options that exist to address some symptoms, and information on resources will also be available for program participants.

In addition to being a volunteer Community Educator with the Alzheimer’s Association, King is a family care partner, with two parents living with Alzheimer’s/Dementia. She is passionate about helping others to learn about and advocate for people impacted by dementia.

Information about the Museum’s Senior Reminiscence outreach program will also be available. Since 2005, the Museum has regularly presented Senior Reminiscence programs at senior care facilities throughout Central Illinois. This program brings museum educators directly into senior care facilities at no cost to them. Using authentic objects, photographs, and inquiry-based facilitation, we encourage older adults to recall and share memories, feelings, and stories of past life experiences by handing familiar artifacts and photographs, and to connect with other program participants.

For more information about this free program, please contact the Museum’s Education Department at education@mchistory.org or 309-827-0428.

Friday, June 7

Cogs and Corsets: A Central Illinois Steampunk Happening

Starts at 5:00 PM

The Museum is pleased to once again participate in the now third annual Cogs & Corsets festival. The Museum will be the site of history presentations, Tea Dueling, a Tea Room, and a variety of activities held on the Square with our friends from the Children’s Discovery Museum. Area galleries will feature the work of local and visiting artists alike, and the streets will be bustling with vendors, costumed visitors, teapot races, and more! We can’t wait to see you here! For registration and more information, please visit www.cogsandcorsetsil.org.

Schedule at a glance for Friday, June 7, 2019

**Please note that the schedule is subject to change**

4pm–7pm
Registration/Welcome/Information Booth

Get your event program/map, pick up and purchase tickets for premium events.

4pm–midnight
Open Gaming

Join fellow gamers at Red Raccoon Games for open play of your favorites.

5pm–8pm
First Friday Activities

Sponsor: Downtown Bloomington Association

See and be seen strolling the downtown shops and galleries. Many visiting and local artists, in-store specials and Steampunk-themed fun!

Steampunk Market (Vendor area) open

300 block of Main St. — Stroll our vendor area and shop for all manner of wonderful Steampunk accessories, handcrafts, tea, and so much more! Merchants and artists from all over the midwest will be showcasing their wares, helping you complete your perfect Steampunk ensemble.

5pm–9:30pm
Food Trucks / Pop-up restaurants

On the BCPA lawn — By popular request! In addition to our many downtown restaurants, we’ve coordinated with food trucks and other local food purveyors to bring you more options for sustenance as you enjoy the festivities.

5:30–7:30pm
Tea Dueling

Sponsor: McLean County Museum of History

Our Tiffin Master will preside over official Tea Dueling, allowing visitors to settle their spats like civilized folk: by dunking their biscuits in a hot cup of tea, and seeing who can be the last to complete a successful ‘nom’. Fun for all ages, and for participants and spectators alike.

Nerf Dueling

Sponsor: McLean County Museum of History

We welcome our friends from the Chicagoland Steampunk Society, who will be officiating Nerf Dueling on the Museum Square! If your damaged pride can’t be assuaged with simple tea dueling, might we suggest something with… projectiles? Dueling’s dark history in the 19th century is all too real, but ours is done in good, safe fun. Peruse the rules here, and prepare your final dramatics in case your opponent beats you to the draw.

6:00pm
Downtown Promenade

We’ll start the evening’s festivities with a promenade through the downtown in our steampunk finery! Get the overview of the downtown shops, galleries and restaurants while you show off your best ensemble to the public. The promenade will begin and end at the Registration Booth on the Museum Square; anyone dressed in steampunk clothing is welcome to join!

7–8:30pm
Steampunk Contra Dancing (Part 1)

Ticketed event. Come dance the night away with the Chicago band Ceilidh Bandicoots! Featuring callers Jonathan Sivier, Jon Hanson, and Scott Meyer.

Contra dancing was popular in the 19th century and it’s had a big revival this past decade. You don’t need a partner and you don’t need fancy lessons. Any level of dance skill can join in — just listen to the caller and have a ball. A costume is not required, but it makes it more fun!

Light refreshments will be served. Cash bar. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.

Note: Event will break to allow dancers to attend the Arc Attack Demo and will resume afterwards. Ticket price provides admission to both dance sessions.

Buy Tickets

8:45–9:15pm
Arc Attack! FREE Tesla Coil Demonstration

Our now-famous Tesla Coil kickoff event has hit the Big League. Come witness the nationally-recognized performance artists, Arc Attack, who will light up the night sky with their Tesla Coil demonstration. You’ve seen them on Through the Wormhole, and America’s Got Talent. You will not want to miss seeing them in person. This kickoff demonstration is free to all!

To ensure the best viewing, for 2019 this event has been relocated to the BCPA lawn.* 

*Weather-dependent, for obvious reasons!

9:30–11pm
Steampunk Contra Dancing (Part 2)

Ticketed event. Come dance the night away with the Chicago band Ceilidh Bandicoots! Featuring callers Jonathan Sivier, Jon Hanson and Scott Meyer.

Contra dancing was popular in the 19th Century and it’s had a big revival this past decade. You don’t need a partner and you don’t need fancy lessons. Any level of dance skill can join in — just listen to the caller and have a ball. A costume is not required but it makes it more fun!

Light refreshments will be served. Cash bar. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.

Note: Ticket price provides admission to both dance sessions.

Saturday, June 8

Cogs and Corsets: A Central Illinois Steampunk Happening

Starts at 9:00 AM

The Museum is pleased to once again participate in the now third annual Cogs & Corsets festival. The Museum will be the site of history presentations, Tea Dueling, a Tea Room, and a variety of activities held on the Square with our friends from the Children’s Discovery Museum. Area galleries will feature the work of local and visiting artists alike, and the streets will be bustling with vendors, costumed visitors, teapot races, and more! We can’t wait to see you here! For registration and more information, please visit www.cogsandcorsetsil.org.

Schedule at a glance for Saturday, June 8, 2019

**Please note that the schedule is subject to change**

7am–noon

Farmers’ Market

While not an ‘official’ activity of Cogs & Corsets, we’d be remiss if we didn’t let you know that the Museum Square will be filled with our nationally-recognized Farmers’ Market! Local food, music, and art kicks off your Saturday morning.

8am–3pm
Registration/Welcome/Information Booth

Get your event program/map, pick up and purchase tickets for premium events.

9am–4pm
Free Photo Booth Open

The beautiful McLean County Museum of History offers photo ops both inside and out: Immortalize your best costumes with selfies in our old-world ‘photo booth’ or take advantage of the Museum’s innate turn-of-the-century architectural backdrops.

9am–6pm
Steampunk Market (Vendor area) open

Extended hours for 2019! Stroll our vendor area and shop for all manner of wonderful Steampunk accessories, handcrafts, tea, and so much more! Merchants and artists from all over the Midwest will be showcasing their wares, helping you complete your perfect Steampunk ensemble.

9:30am–3:30pm
Tea Room Open

Sponsor: Beezer Family Honey

Arguably THE place to see and be seen! Relax in style in Lady Erika Jarden’s tea room, located in the restored 1903 courtroom on the second floor of the McLean County Museum of History. Enjoy selections of fortifying tea, biscuits, and your delightful hostess, famed Lady Erika herself. Purchase your Tea Room pass ($5 per person) online, on-site at the registration booth, or inside the Museum of History for open access to three fortifying rounds of tea and biscuits during the festival.

Buy Tickets

9:30–11:30am
Maker’s Faire Entries Accepted

Whether designed for altruistic purposes or nefarious, your steampunk invention, accessory, or gadget belongs in our Makers’ Faire competition! Entry forms available here for download and also at the Registration booth. Our illustrious judges will determine the winners in each category and bestow the awards. Winners announced at noon at Inside Out Accessible Art.

9:30am
Promenade on the Square

Join in a stroll around the Museum square to celebrate the opening of the festival! Open to all costumed attendees. Gather at the Registration booth for a stylish stroll thru the market, and show everyone there’s been a steampunk invasion!

10am–4pm
Workshops (every hour on the hour)

Your program guide will have final descriptions, times and locations. Last workshops will begin at 3pm.

10am–noon
Kids’ S.T.E.A.M. Activities

East lawn of the Museum Square — The McLean County Museum of History and the Children’s Discovery Museum will be showcasing free, family-friendly, steam-powered and S.T.E.A.M activities for enthusiasts of all ages.

11:00am
Mustache Contest Pre-judging

Whether villainous or handlebar, fluffy or sleek, if you think you have a mustache of magnificence, come see how it measures up to stiff competition! Free to enter, win prizes and bragging rights! Awards at 11:30.

11:30am–1pm
‘Outrageous Etiquette’ luncheon

Premium ticketed event. Central Illinois’ renowned Tea Ladies share rules of Victorian etiquette you just won’t believe. See the complicated use of calling cards demonstrated, along with other interesting dining rules. Enjoy a lovely catered lunch while you laugh and learn some of the more outrageous rules of the 1890s.

Buy Tickets

Noon
Makers’ Faire Winner Announcements

See whose gadgets were judged the winners for this year’s competition! All entries on display and awards presentation at Inside Out Accessible Art

12:30pm
Costume Contest Pre-judging

Enter your finest costume and walk the runway! Emceed event with awards. Entry form is available here for download, and also at the Registration booth.

1:30pm
Costume Contest Runway Show

Come admire the creative and entertaining outfits that make Steampunk such a spectacle! Cheer on your friends and favorites as they walk the runway competing for coveted awards, and perhaps even get some great ideas for your next ensemble!

1:30–3:30pm
Kids’ S.T.E.A.M. Activities

500 block of Main St. — The McLean County Museum of History and the Children’s Discovery Museum will be showcasing free, family-friendly, steam-powered and S.T.E.A.M activities for enthusiasts of all ages.

2pm–2:30pm
Splendid Teapot Racing (Pre-Registration)

Bring your teapot racer to the track for early trials, and let the judges have a look at what you’ve built. Bribes accepted, naturally. Official rules are available here.

2:30pm–??
Splendid Teapot Racing

Sponsored by: Bloomington Public Library

Laugh and cheer as you watch the intrepid teapot racers attempt to conquer the Ramp of Doom, Tunnel of Terror, and other obstacles in this timed, highly entertaining competition! Emceed event with awards. Entry forms available at Registration booth.

2–3:30pm
Arc Attack — Singing Tesla Coil Performance

Ticketed event. The creators of the original Singing Tesla Coil, ArcAttack uses their high tech wizardry to generate a truly ‘electrifying’ performance. Combining their love of rock music and their love of science, this is a show you will never forget!

Two custom-engineered, hand built Tesla Coils throw out electrical arcs up to twelve feet long, each one acting as an instrument with a sound reminiscent of the early days of the synthesizer. A robotic drum set accompanies the spectacle, its high power LEDs flashing bright colors with the stroke of each mechanically actuated stick.

The show features their signature tesla coils with members of the group literally walking through lightning, plus fun interactive experiments including the Voltage Multiplier, Can Crusher, and more. Part rock concert, part science experiment the creators of ArcAttack unveil the science behind the spectacle. You’ll participate in a show that’s both entertaining and interactive.

Buy Tickets

4:30–6pm
Joshua Kane’s ‘Gothic at Midnight’

Sponsored by: Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts

Joshua Kane performs Gothic at Midnight – A Tribute to the Masters of the Macabre. The Demons of Darkness have come to Bloomington. Experience a roller coaster ride of terror and laughter as NYC actor Joshua Kane populates the stage with unforgettable characters. Inspired by the old-time radio dramas of Orson Welles and Vincent Price, Kane bewitches audiences with a devilish sense of fun and whimsy. Drawing from the works of Poe, Dickens, Bierce, and other classic creepers, Kane “amuses you with his antics, frightens you with his intensity and charms you with his tales of the fantastic.” – The Charleston City Paper

“A compelling performance — thrillingly intense one minute, hilariously funny the next. The audience loved him.” —Adele Adkins, Maine Center for the Arts

‘Gothic at Midnight’ is a FREE performance for Cogs & Corsets attendees, made possible by the BCPA.

5–10pm
FREE Summer Concert on the Square

This ‘once in a blue moon’ occurrence has central Illinois’ biggest outdoor blues concert happening the same Saturday as Cogs & Corsets… which means FREE music and entertainment on the downtown square all night!

The

19th annual FREE WGLT Summer Concert brings an incredible lineup every

year! The performers for 2019 have not been announced yet, but they’re

sure to be exciting. We’ll post the information here, so stay tuned.

Walk-around beer/wine garden and food vendors opens around the Museum Square at 3:30. Music begins at 5pm.

6:30pm–midnight
Open Gaming

Your fellow gamers will be gathering at Red Raccoon Games for some late-night play of your favorites. Come make some new friends ’round the tables!

7:30–9pm
Arc Attack — Singing Tesla Coil Performance

Ticketed event.

See description at the 2pm time slot.

Buy Tickets

9:00pm
Steampunk Drag Show

What else can we say? This is where Steampunk styling goes beyond splendid into fabulous! The Bistro, Bloomington’s premier alternative bar and live performance venue, brings you Sharon Sharealike’s stunning drag performers for a night to remember. 21+ only. Tickets can be purchased at the door (316 N. Main St.) and are not included in VIP packages.

10–11:30pm
Joshua Kane’s ‘Gothic at Midnight’

Sponsored by: Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts

See description at the 4:30pm time slot.

‘Gothic at Midnight’ is a FREE performance for Cogs & Corsets attendees, made possible by the BCPA.

11:00pm
Steampunk Drag Show

What else can we say? This is where Steampunk styling goes beyond splendid into fabulous! The Bistro, Bloomington’s premier alternative bar and live performance venue, brings you Sharon Sharealike’s stunning drag performers for a night to remember. 21+ only. Tickets can be purchased at the door (316 N. Main St.) and are not included in VIP packages.

Sunday, June 9

Cogs and Corsets: A Central Illinois Steampunk Happening

Starts at 9:00 AM

The Museum is pleased to once again participate in the now third annual Cogs & Corsets festival. The Museum will be the site of history presentations, Tea Dueling, a Tea Room, and a variety of activities held on the Square with our friends from the Children’s Discovery Museum. Area galleries will feature the work of local and visiting artists alike, and the streets will be bustling with vendors, costumed visitors, teapot races, and more! We can’t wait to see you here! For registration and more information, please visit www.cogsandcorsetsil.org.

Schedule at a glance for Sunday, June 9, 2019

**Please note that the schedule is subject to change**

9am–2pm
Steampunk Market (Vendor area) open
10am–1pm
Workshops
Photo Ops Open

The McLean County Museum of History offers prime photo ops both inside and out. Immortalize your best costumes with selfies in our old-world ‘photo booth,’ or take advantage of the Museum’s innate turn-of-the-century architectural backdrops.

Dirigible Races

A Cogs & Corsets original! Challenge a friend to see who can move their dirigible the fastest along the airways. Those who wield their bellows the fastest will prevail! Fast-paced fun for all ages.

Tea Room Open

Sponsor: Beezer Family Honey

Arguably THE place to see and be seen! Relax in style in Lady Erika Jarden’s tea room, located in the restored 1903 courtroom on the second floor of the McLean County Museum of History. Enjoy selections of fortifying tea, biscuits, and your delightful hostess, famed Lady Erika herself. Purchase your Tea Room pass ($5 per person) online, on-site at the registration booth, or inside the Museum of History for open access to three fortifying rounds of tea and biscuits during the festival.

Buy Tickets

10:30am–12:30pm
Dine with the Dead: Cemetery Customs and Traditions of Days Gone By

(Guided Tour and Picnic)

Ticketed event. Enjoying a picnic in a cemetery was not always a taboo activity. Quite the contrary—a graveside lunch was a leisure activity for many. People often dined while visiting their dearly departed, and city residents regularly took advantage of cemeteries for strolls and carriage rides too. 

In the spirit (pun intended) of the age, enjoy a picnic lunch on the beautiful grounds of Evergreen Memorial Cemetery (one of Bloomington’s oldest) and embark on a one-hour guided tour to learn about funerary customs of the Victorian-era, explore the types of monuments that populate the cemetery, and hear stories of some of the McLean County citizens who reside there. Ticket includes round-trip trolley transportation from the Museum Square and a selection of a boxed picnic lunches.

Buy Tickets

11am
Vrooman Mansion Brunch

Ticketed event. Back by popular demand: A grand finale to your Cogs & Corsets weekend is an elegant plated brunch in the Parlor, Foyer, and Music Room of this 1869 historic mansion turned Bed & Breakfast. While this year’s menu is still being finalized, in previous years the brunch featured a variety of baked goods and fresh fruit, quiche, crepes with fresh mixed berry sauce, bacon & sausage. Iced water, orange juice, coffee or tea. Limited to 26 general admission tickets.

Ticket also includes round-trip trolley transportation from the Museum Square.

Buy Tickets

11am–12:30pm
Splendid Teapot (Open Play)

The races may be over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try your hand at maneuvering a teapot over the obstacles! Challenge a friend to a time trial, or just test your skills on the course.

10am–2pm
Activities at the Museum (East Lawn)
  • Croquet
  • Dirigible Races
  • Photo Booth open
  • Demonstrations

Tuesday, June 11

Auditions for the 2019 Evergreen Cemetery Walk

Starts at 6:00 PM

Auditions for the October 2019 Evergreen Cemetery Walk will be in the McLean County Museum of History second floor courtroom from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Please bring a resume and head shot if you have one. Readings will be supplied at the audition. Please email echoes@ilvoicestheatre.org with questions.

Saturday, June 15

Auditions for the 2019 Evergreen Cemetery Walk

Starts at 1:00 PM

Auditions for the October 2019 Evergreen Cemetery Walk will be in the McLean County Museum of History second floor courtroom from 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. Please bring a resume and head shot if you have one. Readings will be supplied at the audition. Please email echoes@ilvoicestheatre.org with questions.

Monday, June 17

Futures in History Camp

Starts at 8:30 AM

Abraham Lincoln may have never said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” But, it is a fine sentiment nonetheless! And, creating futures informed by the past is what Futures in History Camp is all about!

Registration for Futures in History Camp is open to any area students entering 4th, 5th, and 6th grades who are keen on exploring the many futures a career in history can hold. From law, to archaeology, to architecture, to museum studies, and environmental science, there is a future for everyone at Futures in History Camp!

This 5-day summer camp is presented in partnership with the David Davis Mansion State Historic Site and Sugar Grove Nature Center. Our camper to staff/volunteer ratio averages 4:1. Registration is FULL for Session I (June 17-21).

Wednesday, June 19

8th Annual History Makers Gala

Starts at 6:15 PM

Each year, the History Makers Gala recognizes senior citizens whose outstanding, lifelong contributions of time and talents have helped to make McLean County the thriving community it is today. This year’s History Makers Gala will be held on Wednesday, June 19th at Illinois State University’s Bone Student Center Ballroom. The Gala dinner will feature live entertainment that celebrates the honorees and their lives of service. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with the program beginning at 6:15 p.m.

This year the honorees are:

  • Richard and Judy Buchanan shaped not only the City of Bloomington, but also the broader community through their work as a politician, a lobbyist, and activist.
  • Jana Edge worked tirelessly as a nurse, health educator, and community volunteer helped establish a long-lasting sister city relationship between Vladimir, Russia and the Bloomington-Normal area.
  • Henry Gay was a long-time member of the Bloomington-Normal NAACP who championed equal rights in housing, voting, and job opportunities for African Americans.

Reservations can be made at the McLean County Museum of History, via phone at 309-827-0428, or online here.

Tuesday, June 25

The Once and Future Greatness of Downtown Bloomington

Starts at 7:15 PM

Join us at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25 when Museum Librarian Bill Kemp will take us through an illustrated tour of Downtown Bloomington—emphasizing its political, economic, and social history, and all of the ebbs and flows of the past 188 years. In doing so, Kemp will demonstrate how the vibrancy and growth of the Twin Cities and the wider region are dependent on the revitalization of Bloomington’s historic downtown. This program is free and open to the public.

Thursday, June 27

Social Justice Walking Tour

Starts at 6:15 PM

Back by popular demand, the Museum is pleased to invite you to join Mike Matejka, labor historian and Governmental Affairs Director, Great Plains Laborers’ District Council and editor of Grand Prairie Union News, and Bill Kemp, local historian and the Museum’s Librarian, for their Social Justice History Walking Tour on Thursday, June 27 beginning at 6:15 p.m. This program is free and open to the public.

Participants will learn about the history of neighborhoods and human rights efforts in Bloomington. The walk will begin in downtown Bloomington around the Museum square, continues south through the warehouse district, and will end on the west side at St. Mary’s Church.

Please note that you will be walking approximately 2.5 miles and standing and listening at various stops along the way. The tour will begin at the Museum and participants should meet outside the Museum’s main entrance on Washington Street. The tour last approximately two hours and we highly encourage you to bring bottled water and wear comfortable shoes.

Participation is limited to the first 40 individuals to sign up. Registration will begin on May 1. To register to participate in this tour, please contact the Education Department at 309-827-0428 or education@mchistory.org. Registration deadline will be Wednesday, June 26 at 5:00 p.m.

Friday, June 28

History Out of the Closet

Starts at 5:30 PM

The Museum is pleased to announce the formation of a partnership with the Prairie Pride Coalition to present a special program and to expand the Museum’s collection of materials associated with the LGBTQ+ community. Coinciding with the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City, on Friday, June 28 at 5:30 p.m. a panel of local individuals will present History out of the Closet — a discussion of experiences of members of the LGBTQ+ community in McLean County.  

McLean County’s LGBTQ+ community is an integral part of the county’s rich history. But little has been recorded or gathered regarding the experiences of its members because of cultural biases and prejudices. The June 28 History Out of the Closet panel program will include community members Dave Bentlin, Jan Lancaster, Bruce Lang, Cameron Hurley, and Olemuel Ashford.  These individuals will discuss their personal experiences in order to bring to light the many challenges and risks the LGBTQ+ community faced prior to the establishment of laws that granted them equal rights and protections in McLean County.  Topics will include social and work lives within an unaccepting community, efforts made to change cultural views and attain equal rights, struggles and successes throughout the AIDS epidemic, and stories of everyday life both in and out of the closet. The panel discussion will be moderated by Mike Matejka.

A reception with light refreshments will immediately follow the program. For more information about this program, please contact the Education Department at 309-827-0428 or education@mchistory.org. 

Friday, June 28

History Out of the Closet: The LGBTQ+ Community in McLean County

Starts at 5:30 PM

Join the Prairie Pride Coalition and the McLean County Museum of History on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots for  History Out of the Closet,  a panel discussion with the LGBTQ community in McLean County. The discussion will be held on Friday, June 28 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at the Museum.  McLean County’s LGBTQ+ community is an integral part of McLean County’s rich history.  But little has been recorded or gathered regarding the experiences of its members because of cultural biases and prejudices. The program will feature community members Dave Bentlin, Jan Lancaster, Bruce Lang, Cameron Hurley, and Olemuel Ashford.  These individuals will discuss their personal experiences in order to bring to light the many challenges and risks the LGBTQ+ community faced prior to the establishment of laws that granted them equal rights and protections in McLean County.  Topics will include social and work lives within an unaccepting community, efforts made to change cultural views and attain equal rights, struggles and successes throughout the AIDS epidemic, and stories of everyday life both in and out of the closet. The panel discussion will be moderated by Mike Matejka.

To learn more about this initiative visit the Museum’s website @  or

the Prairie Pride Coalition’s facebook page.  If you have questions, or

wish to schedule a specific time during this event (or on another date),

contact Museum Curator Susan Hartzold at skhartzold@mchistory.org.

Saturday, June 29

History Out of the Closet Preservation Day

Starts at 10:00 AM


History Out of the Closet Preservation Day, an initiative to preserve materials relating to McLean County’s LGBTQ+
community will be held on Saturday, June 29 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Members of the LGBTQ+ community are invited share their stories relating to homeand public life, both positive and negative; clothing and personal items; business related items; and art and music.  Museum staff and volunteers will video record, photograph, and scan these materials as a
way to document them for the future. Members of the LGBTQ+ community, if they choose to, can donate these materials at this time, or they can take them with them along with a flash/thumb drive with the videos, photographs and scans of their materials.  The Museum’s copies will serve as resources for future exhibits, publications, education, outreach, and special programs developed by the Museum in partnership with the Prairie Pride Coalition and members of the LGBTQ+ community. They will also be made available to those wishing to research the history of McLean County’s LGBTQ+ community.

To learn more about this initiative visit the Museum’s website @  or the Prairie Pride Coalition’s facebook page.  If you have questions, or wish to schedule a specific time during this event (or on another date), contact Museum Curator Susan Hartzold at skhartzold@mchistory.org.