200 North Main Street | Bloomington, Illinois | 309-827-0428


A local teacher finds new ways to excite students about history.  Using the Museum’s new interactive exhibits and specialized programs, he helps them connect with the people of McLean County’s past. Later that week, a Museum educator takes historic objects into a classroom of sixth-graders and uses an exhibit video to integrate local history into their teacher’s lesson plan. Imagine hundreds of senior citizens, unable to travel, who look forward to visits from our Museum educators as they share stories and handle familiar artifacts that trigger a forgotten memory.


Increase the Museum’s endowment to permanently add a new Museum educator to better serve our existing audience and to meet the ever-increasing demand for hands-on educational programs inside and beyond our historic walls.

Museum Classes and Activities – Our current two-person education staff reaches an average of 13,295 people each year. That number includes 3,400 students and 2,000 members of the general public who benefit from programs in the Museum’s galleries and courtroom. A third educator will allow the Museum to expand and develop new topics and themes without reducing the number of free programs offered.

In-Class Programs– This new educator will help the Museum reach students in the many school districts that can no longer afford field trips. The Education Department already offers a lending program for teachers called “Museum in the Classroom” to share artifacts and history lesson plans. However, the program will be more effective when there are enough resources to allow a Museum educator to accompany the traveling objects.

Senior Reminiscence – This program sends Museum educators to senior assisted living centers, nursing homes and adult day service programs to share historical objects or photographs with residents. These artifacts stimulate cognition, communication, social interaction, and memory for the residents. The new Museum educator would reduce the waiting list of organizations that would like to participate in this free service. This move would also allow staff to introduce new topics and to document many of the seniors’ captivating stories that add new dimensions to local history

Connecting people to a sense of place . . .

People and their shared stories are the heart of the McLean County Museum of History. For more than 100 years, the Museum has strived to enrich visitors’ and students’ lives by providing educational opportunities that reveal a multi-faceted view of earlier generations— through their origins, religions, ethnicities, trades, politics, and personal expressions. In our rapidly changing world, however, current scholarship and new ways of delivering educational programs are necessary to serve today’s audience. The Extending Excellence campaign will position the Museum to continue its legacy of excellence for the next generation.

Lifelong learning . . .

The Museum engages people with learning opportunities at all life stages:

Student Experience – Thousands of students of all ages participate in our award-winning educational programs each year, regardless of their ability to pay. Teachers have come to rely on these high quality programs as a cost-effective way to bolster their existing curriculum. Students learn in new ways outside of the classroom, and our Library/Archives provide an important resource for research.

Family Experience– Families explore our galleries together, often multiple generations at the same time. You might hear a child ask, “Grandma, did you ride in a covered wagon when you were my age?” She might respond, “I’m not THAT old! But did I ever tell you about my great-grandmother who did?” We see parents assisting their children as they conduct research for school projects in our Library/Archives, and we assist families as they reconnect with their genealogy.

Volunteer Experience – The Museum is supported by 240 volunteers who give their most precious gift of time. Each year, they give more than 17,000 hours of service. The depth of their commitment and the diversity of their talents add to everything we do. In return, the Museum provides stimulating work, a continued learning experience, a social outlet and a sincere appreciation for their work from the staff and board.

Senior Experience – To cite one of countless examples: Residents’ eyes light up when Museum educators Candace Summers and Rachael Kramp present an enlarged photograph of the Oasis Drive-In on Route 66. Memories come flooding back, stories are told and laughs are shared. Since we first began offering our Senior Reminiscence programs, we have received overwhelmingly positive feedback. Retirement and senior care facilities are always looking for unique ways to engage their residents, and they have found a trusted partner in the McLean County Museum of History.

Your commitment is needed to extend the Museum’s legacy of excellence . . .

For more than a century, the Museum has successfully used artifacts and stories of past people to connect different generations and reflect on our heritage of hopes, triumphs and failures. Your support will dramatically enhance our ability to continue this mission. With increasingly diverse audiences and fundamental changes in 21st century learning, we must strive together in the present to preserve the past in order to shape the future. Help us ensure that the heritage of McLean County will continue to play a vital role in community life.

For Education Outreach Program Endowment

Funds donated for the benefit of the Education Outreach Program Endowment will be invested and managed on a total return basis by professional investment fund managers. The funds will be permanently restricted for the benefit of the outreach programs. With a goal of a sustainable five percent return, this $1,000,000 fund will provide $50,000 a year, in perpetuity for developing and delivering educational museum programs off-site.