Our History

The McLean County Museum of History traces its roots back to 1892, the year the McLean County Historical Society was founded. It is a nationally accredited award winning museum with five permanent exhibit galleries and two rotating galleries.

This educational institution is dedicated to telling the rich story of McLean County through programs which serve people of all ages.

The museum features seven exhibit galleries, preserves 19,000 objects, makes available more than 11,500 rare and hard to find reference books, manages 1,700 feet of historical papers and images in its archives.

American Alliance of Museums Accredited Museum Emblem


Scroll through this timeline to learn more about our institutional history. Further down the page, read a message from our director, and view our mission and vision.

Message From Our Director

Whether you’ve wandered to this page of our website by intent or serendipity, Hello!

The McLean County Museum of History is a place which strives to be open to one and all. Our “big idea” is that a place ought to have a memory and memory ought to be shared. To know where we are, we must know where we have been, and who made the places we call home. Through knowledge of the past, we might consider the past we ourselves will leave. Will we leave it better?

Enough of the woolly-headed musings … the Museum has marvelous means by which we encourage you to learn about this place, whether you are here virtually or in the flesh.

So enjoy! There are interesting things to be discovered on this website, and they are just a hint of the marvelous pieces of the past that have been assembled in this museum.

It’s all made possible by a great group of people who work here, serve on the board of directors, serve as volunteers, and donate artifacts, books, papers, photos and money so that we can make it all work together.

We are an Illinois not-for profit corporation that partners with the County of McLean to make this grand old building come alive with the sound of children in the hallways, the rustle of paper in the archives, the beeps of our computers and phones and the joyful call of memory as family members recount their past while visiting a gallery. Please join in the fun and fascination of it all!

Greg Koos
Executive Director

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Vision Statement

The McLean County Historical Society is to be an essential element in the cultural and educational fabric of this region. Centered in the magnificent Old McLean County Courthouse our programs will tell the rich stories of past generations and new and growing communities. We will provide opportunities for public reflection on our heritage of hopes, triumphs and failures. We will accomplish this through discovering and saving the tangible evidence of the past. Most importantly, we will share our many stories through excellence in exhibition, education and publishing, along with providing our community with opportunities to participate in the work of a historical museum and library.

Adopted by the Board of Directors December 17, 1996


In accordance with the Statement of Purpose, Article II of the Constitution, adopted by the McLean County Historical Society; it is the Mission of this society to educate the general public on the history of the people of McLean County by operating museums and libraries which provide exhibits, public programs and research collections; to develop publications; and to acquire and preserve collections which reflect the diversity of McLean County. This Mission is implemented through the accomplishment of the following:

  • To educate the public through the interpretive exhibition of objects and to develop public educational programs in association with the people and institutions of our community.
  • To acquire, in conformance with the collections policy, objects, papers, periodicals, and books which reflect all segments of the community and to preserve these collections through proper storage and conservation measures, and to exhibit them in secure environments.
  • To support research in local and family history by making books, manuscripts, and databases accessible and to support the same by providing the professional staff assistance and guidance in the course of such research.
  • To publish popular and scholarly works.
  • To encourage public support of the museum through donation of time and money by all segments of the community.
  • To interpret and to encourage the preservation of historic buildings and sites.
  • To continually pursue professional standards through participation in state and national museum and heritage organizations and to remain an American Association of Museums (AAM) accredited institution.

Approved by the Board of Directors September 20, 1995.