Monday, December 23, 2013

An Exciting New Year Ahead!

Recent visitors to the museum might have noticed some changes happening in the area near the stairwell.  This construction is a preliminary step in the creation of a new exhibit, one of three that will be created at the museum in the next year.

The first exhibit, which will replace our current temporary exhibit Joseph Royer:  An Architect on the Prairie, will be called Home Grown:  Gardening Yesterday and Today.  The exhibit will discuss the roots of modern gardening in the first cultivation and domestication of plants, the kitchen garden and gardening for subsistence, the Victory Garden in the 20th century, and the modern return to slow foods and heirloom gardens.  The exhibit will be showcased in the Redhed Room, our temporary display space, from March 2014 through December 2014.  More information about the garden exhibit will follow soon!

The second new exhibit, the one that has been raising some dust in recent weeks, will detail the geologic and glacier processes that created the landscape of East Central Illinois.  Plans for the exhibit include a model of a glacier, samples of fossils and glacially-modified rocks, and a sample of a sediment core taken from our own Buffalo Trace Prairie!

And possibly an ice cave!

The glacier exhibit should also premier in March of the coming year.

The final exhibit in the works is a longer-term project.  Over the next year, we will be remodeling and updating our Main Gallery Prairie Stories exhibit, as it has been in place for over a decade.  While we are hoping to keep disruptions to a minimum, there will likely be times over the next twelve months that sections of the exhibit (or perhaps the entire exhibit) will be closed to the public.

As we work through these changes, we will do our best to provide access to the Farm Tool Wing and Blacksmith's Shop.  (I'm sure many of you will be relieved to learn that, while the interpretive signs and farm tools might change a bit in phase two of our project, due to start in 2015, we have no plans at this time to redesign the blacksmith's shop). 

Our new exhibit, building on the glacier exhibit as a prologue, will detail the natural and cultural history of the region through interactive displays discussing the changing landscape, human settlement and occupation on the prairie, and how the natural features of the region contributed to the development of commerce and industry.  A special section will also feature conservation and preservation efforts at the museum and within the larger forest preserve district, with a 'workshop' area discussing how we curate various items and materials in our museum collection.

The exhibit will also include a walk-in log cabin, a walk-in general store, and (we hope!) a walk-in wigwam similar to the one in our downstairs Discovery Room.   Many familiar artifacts will be incorporated into the new exhibit, but others will go back into storage to make room for new artifacts from the collection to be put on display.

We would love to hear your thoughts about favorite artifacts in the comments section below!  Please let us know if there is a special item that you would really miss if it was put back into storage.  We can't promise to include every artifact, but we are very interested in feedback from our visitors as we make plans for the new exhibit.

If you are interested, please take a few minutes to fill out this short survey regarding your preferences in visiting a museum (only six questions!):

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