Welcoming New Faces

The Illinois State Museum continues to welcome new faces to its staff. We would like to introduce Samantha Comerford, Sarah Davis, and Dannyl Dolder.

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Samantha Comerford is interning with the Art and History Section for one year. She 
recently graduated with an art history degree and a history minor from Illinois State University where she worked at University Galleries and cometogetherspace. She  also has had experience at the Frye Art Museum, James Harris Gallery, and Museum of History and Industry in Seattle. Samantha particularly loves textiles, especially dresses from all eras. As a child she came to the State Museum often, and loved (and still loves) the 1990s Teenager’s Bedroom exhibit in At Home in the Heartland.

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Sarah Davis is a Museum Educator in the the Education Section. This is not her first time working at the State Museum; she is a former Monticello Intern in Education and longtime Museum volunteer. Sarah has a degree in in Elementary education and has worked previously as an elementary literacy teacher and reading and math tutor. Sarah has a passion for fostering lifelong learning and championing hands-on exploration.

 

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Dannyl Dolder is the new Registrar in the Art and History Section. She received her BA in Art at the University of Illinois–Springfield, where she was in charge of the student gallery and cataloged the UIS art collection. Ten years ago, Dannyl interned at the State Museum learning a broad array of skills from art installation to art registration to photography. After her internship, she apprenticed with Doug Carr, Illinois State Museum and Dana-Thomas House photographer. She loves art, museums, and collaborating with her very creative museum colleagues.

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“Story of Illinois” Website Launch

In 2018, the State of Illinois is celebrating its 200th birthday. In recognition of the Bicentennial, Illinois museums are sharing the State’s rich history through the objects in their care with a new website entitled “The Story of Illinois: Celebrating the Illinois Bicentennial Through Museum Objects” (story.illinoisstatemuseum.org).

The website, built by the Illinois State Museum, will feature some of the 13.5 million objects in its collection which will be on display in a new exhibition entitled “Bicentennial and Beyond: The Illinois Legacy Collection” opening on June 30. Both the website and the exhibition recognize the fact that the record of the place that became Illinois goes back much further than 200 years—about 500 million years further. From the Tully Monster (the State Fossil), to prehistoric stone tools, to a wedding dress fashioned from a parachute, each object tells a unique part of Illinois’ story, regardless of its age.

The collections from museums in Illinois help tell the unique story of Illinois, from statehood 200 years ago and beyond. The new ‘Story of Illinois’ website will allow anyone, anywhere, anytime to go online and sample some of the best of Illinois history, art, culture, and science.”

– Robert Sill, ISM Interim Director

The website takes a State-wide focus through a partnership with the Illinois Association of Museums (IAM). The IAM has recruited museums from Chicago to Mount Vernon to share treasures from their vaults and galleries.

“You will find some rare, quirky, and beautiful objects on the website, such as the Lone Ranger’s saddle used by Brace Beemer from the Wabash County Museum, to a ceremonial war club used by the Potawatomi Indians from the Chicago History Museum, to a painting by Illinois native and American Impressionist Ivan Summers from the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, to a photoelectric relay used at the Chicago Century of Progress Exposition of 1933-34. Each item has its own story to tell.”

— Karen Everingham, Illinois Association of Museums President

New objects and partners will be added to the site throughout the Bicentennial year. Participating Museums to date include:

  • Adler Planetarium, Chicago
  • Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, Mt. Vernon
  • Chicago Academy of Sciences – Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago
  • Chicago History Museum, Chicago
  • Elizabeth History Museum, Elizabeth
  • Illinois State Museum, Springfield
  • Illinois State Museum Dickson Mounds, Lewistown
  • John G. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago
  • Pullman State Historic Site, Chicago
  • The Chicago Great Western Depot Museum, Elizabeth
  • The Field Museum, Chicago
  • Wabash County Museum, Mt. Carmel
  • Western Illinois University, Macomb

The State Museum will be featuring objects and their stories through its Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds. Like or follow the Museum on these platforms to see new objects as they are added.

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New Exhibition Honors Heroes: Including Yours!

Unsung Heroes descriptionThe Museum would like to feature your Illinois “unsung hero” in a Facebook Gallery that will supplement a coming exhibition.

On March 3, the Museum will open a new exhibition, Unsung Heroes, featuring three little-known heroes from Illinois’ past. Anna Heistad was a nurse and settlement worker in early 19th century Chicago who rose before dawn during the Spanish flu pandemic to work with the ill.  Minnie Vautrin was a missionary worker in China who sheltered thousands of women and children during the Nanking Massacre of 1937-1938. Thomas Jones was a Navy medic who tended to his comrades’ wounds in the heat of battle and continued serving veterans after his return.  All three saved countless lives, and none of them did it for any kind of reward or glory.

The Unsung Heroes exhibition will document these fascinating stories of sacrifice and heroism through photographs and personal objects, many which have never been displayed publicly. The exhibition will be open through June 10.

The Museum is also seeking photo submissions of other Illinois “unsung heroes” who will be recognized in a Facebook gallery. Interested persons should submit their hero for recognition. The hero might be a serviceman or woman, first responder, community advocate, volunteer, or anyone else who deserves recognition for their service to others.

Submission requirements:

  • High-quality photo of an Illinois “unsung hero”
  • Hero’s name
  • Hero’s Illinois hometown
  • Submitter’s name
  • Hero’s story in a few paragraphs (what makes this person a hero?)

Send photos and information to erika.holst@illinois.gov by March 2, 2018 for consideration.

[Please do not send any original photos. WE CANNOT RETURN HARD COPIES SUBMITTED FOR THIS PROJECT. By submitting a photo, you are giving the Illinois State Museum permission to display and share your photo online and with the media.  If in doubt, please check with the “hero” you are submitting to make sure they will be comfortable with the recognition.]

Welcoming New Staff

The Illinois State Museum is thrilled to announce the addition of two new staff members: Erika Holst and Tracy Pierceall. Erika and Tracy have already begun working on the upcoming Illinois Legacy Collection Bicentennial exhibition as well as other projects. If you see them at the Museum, please say hello.

Erika Holst, Curator of Decorative Arts

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Erika Holst has previously worked at Dickson Mounds Museum and the Papers of Abraham Lincoln.  She comes to the State Museum from the Springfield Art Association, where she was in charge of the restoration, interpretation, and programming at historic Edwards Place. Erika loves historic artifacts in general, but her favorite field of inquiry is pre-Civil War Illinois history and material culture.

Tracy Pierceall, Librarian

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Before joining the Illinois State Museum staff, Tracy Pierceall worked for 16 years in the library at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, six of those as head librarian.  In her free time, she’s an avid quilter but also tends to dabble in a number of creative endeavors.  She’s married and is a mother to two wonderful sons and one fur baby.

New Music Series at the State Museum

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The Illinois State Museum, in partnership with singer-songwriter/folk musician Chris Vallillo, will be presenting a new concert series titled Music at the Museum.  The series will present a wide range of roots and acoustic music that is representative of the rich heritage and culture of the Midwest from folk to blues, original to traditional, and everything in between. The Music at the Museum series will take place monthly in the ISM Auditorium in Springfield.

For the past 24 years, Chris Vallillo has worked in partnership with the Illinois State Museum system in producing the Hickory Ridge Concert Series at the Dickson Mounds Museum near Lewistown in Fulton Co. “Our vision here is to create a similar style concert program featuring a higher level of artist than I can present at Dickson Mounds” said Vallillo.  “Springfield is a great arts community and the Illinois State Museum is the perfect place to take things up a level.”

The Music at the Museum concerts will take place the second Thursday of each month throughout the year. ISM Director Mike Wiant is delighted for the chance to bring live performances back to the museum. “This museum isn’t just a storage facility for artifacts; it’s a living, breathing, center of learning and culture that represents everything this region has to offer, and we want to make that available to everyone,” Wiant said.

The official kickoff event for the Music at the Museum concert series will be Thursday, May, 11 at 7:00 p.m. with a double-billing featuring Chris Vallillo, along with the Burr Oak String Band. Vallillo has long been considered Illinois’ “prairie poet singer/songwriter” and is a highly accomplished guitarist on finger-style and bottleneck slide guitars.  The Burr Oak String Band members are masters of a variety of instruments and styles, including old-time, raggy blues, bluegrass, and folk.

“The idea is to start off with a great show to introduce folks to the series” said Vallillo.  “And we’ve got an excellent lineup of acts to kick things off with.”

Other upcoming acts for 2017 include the Chicago blues duo Felisko and Nolden, world musicians Patchouli, songwriter Katie Dahl, and the old-time duo The Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers. Check the full 2017 concert schedule at www.museumconcerts.com.

Concert admission is $10.00 for adults and $8.00 for Illinois State Museum Society members and children under 12. There will be a variety of desserts and drinks available at the break during each concert. For additional information call the Museum at 217-782-7386.

“Pembroke” Author to Speak

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On Wednesday, May 10, author Dave Baron will present stories from his book Pembroke: A Rural, Black Community on the Illinois Dunes, which chronicles the history of Pembroke Township, 65 miles south of Chicago.

Baron’s book profiles a number of the colorful, longtime residents of Pembroke and considers what has enabled Pembroke to survive despite a lack of economic opportunities. Baron’s Pembroke was recently honored by the Illinois State Historical Society and given their Award of Superior Achievement.

This free program takes place at 7:00 p.m. in the Illinois State Museum’s Thorne Deuel Auditorium as part of the Paul Mickey Science Series. Each month, the Mickey Science Series features a different speaker and topic. For additional information, email events@illinoisstatemuseum.org or phone 217-782-5949.

Pinball and Imagist Exhibit to Open in May

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Courtesy Ethan D. Ecole

On May 20, the Illinois State Museum will proudy open Kings and Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago an interactive exhibition examining the intertwined history of two of Chicago’s greatest exports: pinball and imagist painting.

Most of the world’s finest pinball machines were made in Chicago’s North Side factories. As those machines reached the apex of pictorial and engineering ingenuity, the artists now known as the Imagists and the Hairy Who were finding their unique visual style with inspiration from many vernacular sources including the arcades and Riverview Park. Pinball provided inspiration with its high contrast coloration, absurd juxtapositions, and ultra-flat forms. Pinball was but one inspiration for these artists, along with the city’s many-colored storefronts, campy product ads, and hand-painted and neon commercial signs. The exhibition contains photographs of Chicago in those years, as recorded by some of these same artists.

Visitors to the exhibition are invited to play pinball on Chicago-built pinball machines alongside paintings, sculptures and prints inspired by them, including works by Roger Brown, Ed Flood, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, Christina Ramberg, Suellen Rocca, Barbara Rossi, Karl Wirsum and Ray Yoshida. The exhibition also features original works by Constantino Mitchell a long time pinball artist.

Kings and Queens is organized by the Elmhurst Art Museum Director Jenny Gibbs and curated by New York’s Dan Nadel. It will be on display at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield from May 20 – August 11, 2017.