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

Friday, March 6

F1rst Fr1day - Discovering Youth Artists

Starts at 5:00 PM

The Museum will host live, original performances by students of female-founded and supported BCAI -Breaking Chains & Advancing Increase School of Arts. Performances will take place on the First Floor of the Museum at 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Using innovative artistry, BCAI seeks to inspire action through an increased awareness of self, community, and culture.

Information about the Museum’s and BCAI’s upcoming events and summer programs will be available.

This will also be the last night to view the Billy Morrow Jackson Civil Rights Prints Exhibition on display through Saturday, March 7.

Tuesday, March 10

9 Wonder Women of Toys Exhibit-related Program

Starts at 7:15 PM

In toys and games, as with so many fields of endeavor, women’s significant accomplishments have often been overlooked by history.

Join Christopher Bensch, Vice President for Collections at The Strong National Museum of Play, to explore the contributions of nine women inventors and entrepreneurs behind products such as Candy Land, Slinky, Barbie, and Jenga. From adopting new materials for toys to crafting fresh spins on classic games, these fascinating women helped change the world of play for all of us.

This free discussion is presented in conjunction with the Museum’s temporary exhibit, Pedal Power!, featuring the Bruce Callis Pedal Car Collection. Pedal Power! is sponsored by State Farm.

Thursday, March 12

Lunch and Learn: Harriet Emma Dean Powell with Prof. Marcia Thomas

Starts at 12:10 PM

From the battlefields of Shiloh and Vicksburg to the top of Pikes Peak and further west, John Wesley Powell and his wife Emma Dean spent the first ten years of their marriage on the move. Throughout the 1860’s, Emma was Powell’s traveling companion, nurse, ornithologist, and co-explorer.  Illinois Wesleyan Professor Emeritus,
Marcia Thomas takes a look at the life of these two adventurous and equal partners.  

Saturday, March 21

A Community in Conversation: Who Has the Power to be Heard?

Starts at 12:00 PM
1201 N Hershey Rd., Bloomington, IL 61704

The third in a series of programs will take place at YWCA McLean County on Saturday, March 21 at 12:00 p.m. in the Community Room. Women’s participation in politics (whether at the polls or in office) is at an all-time high. Join the YWCA and members of the League of Women Voters, for the discussion. Inspired by the exhibit, Challenges Choices & Change: A Community in Conflict, this program series (January through April) will provide a brief introduction to local stories featured in the exhibit and expand into facilitated small group discussions on the chosen themes. All ages are encouraged to participate in any or all of the planned discussions. The series is being held in collaboration with Not it Our Town (NIOT), Heartland Community College, YWCA McLean County, and Normal Human Relations Commission.

Registration is encouraged, but not required. Click HERE to register.

Saturday, March 28

March of the Women: Music for the 100th Anniversary of Suffrage

Starts at 1:15 PM

The Museum, in partnership with the League of Women Voters of McLean County, are pleased to host musician Phil Passen, who will perform songs on his hammer dulcimer about women’s suffrage, along with additional sons about women’s role in mid-nineteenth century and early twentieth century society. The program will be held on Saturday, March 28 at 1:15 p.m. in the Museum’s Governor Fifer Courtroom and is free and open to the public.

The year 2020 marks a salient moment in Women’s History in the United States; the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Illinois has the distinction of being one of the first three states to ratify the amendment just six days after Congress passed it in 1919. Passen’s program consists of songs about women’s suffrage from the mid-nineteenth century through 1920, along with additional songs about the role of women in society, including songs about equal work for equal pay, reproductive rights, and other relevant topics. His program will begin with “Winning the Vote,” a humorous but pointed song written in 1912 as a conversation between men and women about women’s suffrage; and conclude with “Bread and Roses,” the anthemic song of women workers based on a poem inspired by the 1912 Lawrence textile strike. This is an entertaining and informative look at the fight for women’s right to vote and the continuing fight for women’s rights today.

A native of Ohio, few musicians play the hammered dulcimer. Fewer still sing while accompanying themselves on this fascinating instrument. Phil Passen does both. He was a full-time activist in the antiwar and civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s before he became involved with Folk Music. Itching to learn how to play a musical instrument, Passen did not pick up the dulcimer until 1994 when he saw it being performed at a concert. He has been playing ever since. He regularly performs at libraries and has also performed in the World Symphony Orchestra at Chicago’s Auditorium Theater. Following his performances, Passen also invites audience members to come up and take a closer look at his dulcimer and try their hand at it too.

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


This program is sponsored by a grant from Illinois Humanities. Illinois Humanities is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Illinois General Assembly [through the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency], as well as by contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporations.

Saturday, March 28

pt.fwd concert series featuring Lou Mallozzi

Starts at 7:00 PM

In 2019, the Museum was approached by pt.fwd, a new, independent non-profit group that presents arts and cultural programming in Central Illinois, with an exciting proposal; for the Museum to host their 2020 concert season. Seeing this as a unique opportunity to bring in new types of audiences to experience both the Museum and music and arts programming, the Museum is excited to host this series.

Since their first season in 2018, pt.fwd has organized contemporary music and sonic arts performances in Bloomington-Normal by featuring new work by local and regional artists. Through these programs, they wish to promote the arts as a community activity that reinforces shared connections, present McLean County’s people and history as a source of creative activity, position McLean County as a hub of high-quality contemporary art-making, and by presenting these performances in the Museum, activate the “old courthouse’s” rich acoustic and historic characteristics through the creative use of sound or music. Eddie Breitweiser, one of the founding members of pt.fwd, stated “we are honored to present our series in the McLean County Museum of History’s ‘Old Courthouse,’ a beautiful, culturally significant, and acoustically fascinating setting.”

Saturday, March 28 will feature Lou Mallozzi. A Chicago-based artist who works with a variety of strategies, including performance, installation, improvised music, and visual arts. Mallozzi will present solo sound performances, which incorporates language, pre-recorded sounds, microphones, and simple technologies in dialogue with the particularities of a site and his body. By slightly de-stabilizing these relationships, his performances invite an increased attention to the familiar on the part of the audience, and open the possibility of questions about power, agency, and perception.

This free, public performance will begin at 7:00 p.m. and last approximately one hour. There will be an after party at Cometogetherspace.