In the last month, the Museum has installed two new exhibitions: Hats Off: Stylish Selections from the Illinois Legacy Collection and Harvesting the River: Pearl Buttons.
Hat’s Off contains wide variety of women’s hats from the Museum’s collection. They include a winter bonnet, a mourning bonnet, and a hat made from an entire barn owl.*
Harvesting the River: Pearl Buttons tells the story of the mussel shell pearl button industry in Illinois. Mussels are important ecologically as they filter water in streams and lakes. Today they are one of the most endangered and threatened creatures in Illinois.
Harvesting the River: Pearl Buttons is located in the Hot Science Gallery of the Changes exhibition on the first floor. It will be on display through May of 2019.
* The owl hat was made by Retta Nichols whose son shot the owl in 1940 shortly before leaving home to serve in WWII. The millinery trade is often connected to the decline and extinction of numerous bird species in the 19th century. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed in 1918 in response to the efforts of conservationists who feared more species would be lost to the feather trade. Owls were not protected by the act until a 1972 amendment added 32 families of birds, including eagles, hawks, owls, and corvids (crows, jays, and magpies).