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