New Music Series at the State Museum


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

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


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 or phone 217-782-5949.

Museum Memories

What memories do you have of the Illinois State Museum? That question was front-and-center during the Museum Memories family event on Saturday, July 16. The Museum brought back some of its most memorable exhibits, like the “Tornado Trees” from the 1925 Tri-State Tornado and a horse and human skeleton exhibit which was originally on view when the Museum was housed in the Centennial Building. Toys and exhibits from A Place for Discovery children’s exhibit, which opened in 1982 and closed in 2011, were available for young visitors.

All visitors were invited to trace their hand and write or draw a Museum memory to add to a memory tree in the Family Gallery. The Museum plans on leaving the nostalgic exhibits up for the next few months for those who were unable to make it to the event.

Summer Gathering at Dickson Mounds Museum

Dickson Mounds Museum celebrated its relaunch with a “Summer Gathering” event on Saturday, July 9. Visitors received an update on new exhibits and research from Dr. Michael Wiant and were able to view the nearly completed American Frontier exhibit. Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate with us!

Illinois State Museum is Back

Dr. Michael Wiant, Interim Director opened the doors of the Illinois State Museum on Saturday, July 2 to a waiting crowd. Inside, Museum staff were on hand with interactive displays. Visitors celebrated with a lemonade toast to the Museum and were able to enjoy their favorite Museum exhibits.

The Museum is planning a month-long celebration with a Summer Gathering at Dickson Mounds Museum on July 9, a family event focused on Museum Memories on July 16 in Springfield, and tours of the Research and Collections Center on July 30. Visitors are encouraged to share their visit to the Museum with the hashtag #BackatISM.