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

Wednesday, June 19

8th Annual History Makers Gala

Starts at 6:15 PM

Each year, the History Makers Gala recognizes senior citizens whose outstanding, lifelong contributions of time and talents have helped to make McLean County the thriving community it is today. This year’s History Makers Gala will be held on Wednesday, June 19th at Illinois State University’s Bone Student Center Ballroom. The Gala dinner will feature live entertainment that celebrates the honorees and their lives of service. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with the program beginning at 6:15 p.m.

This year the honorees are:

  • Richard and Judy Buchanan shaped not only the City of Bloomington, but also the broader community through their work as a politician, a lobbyist, and activist.
  • Jana Edge worked tirelessly as a nurse, health educator, and community volunteer helped establish a long-lasting sister city relationship between Vladimir, Russia and the Bloomington-Normal area.
  • Henry Gay was a long-time member of the Bloomington-Normal NAACP who championed equal rights in housing, voting, and job opportunities for African Americans.

Reservations can be made at the McLean County Museum of History, via phone at 309-827-0428, or online here.

Saturday, June 22

BNBHP Juneteenth Celebration

Starts at 11:00 AM

You’re invited to enjoy a Juneteenth Celebration which will provide music, information, and fun activities for the entire family.

Additional details coming soon.


Hosted by the Bloomington-Normal Black History Project and McLean County Museum of History

Saturday, June 22

Museum @ the Make Music Normal Festival

Starts at 12:00 PM

The Museum will have a table at the Make Music Normal festival tin Uptown Normal  from 12 noon to 6 pm. Saturday, June 22nd. If you’re there Saturday, stop by the Museum booth. We’ll be giving away some neat stuff as always and getting the word out that we’re looking for donations of local music—45s, LPs, cassettes, CDs, and even digital files. If it was created locally or created by local people, we’d like to add it to our archives!

Also meet Downstate Sounds host Chris Young and / or his occasional co-host, Museum Librarian Bill Kemp. Downstate Sounds is a weekly program on Illinois Wesleyan University’s student radio station dedicated to music that originated from or was produced in the Twin Cities, Peoria, Decatur, Danville, and other downstate communities.

We’ll be there from 12 noon to 6 p.m. Stop by and say “hi!”

Tuesday, June 25

The Once and Future Greatness of Downtown Bloomington

Starts at 7:15 PM

Join us at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25 when Museum Librarian Bill Kemp will take us through an illustrated tour of Downtown Bloomington—emphasizing its political, economic, and social history, and all of the ebbs and flows of the past 188 years. In doing so, Kemp will demonstrate how the vibrancy and growth of the Twin Cities and the wider region are dependent on the revitalization of Bloomington’s historic downtown. This program is free and open to the public.

Thursday, June 27

Social Justice Walking Tour

Starts at 6:15 PM

Back by popular demand, the Museum is pleased to invite you to join Mike Matejka, labor historian and Governmental Affairs Director, Great Plains Laborers’ District Council and editor of Grand Prairie Union News, and Bill Kemp, local historian and the Museum’s Librarian, for their Social Justice History Walking Tour on Thursday, June 27 beginning at 6:15 p.m. This program is free and open to the public.

Participants will learn about the history of neighborhoods and human rights efforts in Bloomington. The walk will begin in downtown Bloomington around the Museum square, continues south through the warehouse district, and will end on the west side at St. Mary’s Church.

Please note that you will be walking approximately 2.5 miles and standing and listening at various stops along the way. The tour will begin at the Museum and participants should meet outside the Museum’s main entrance on Washington Street. The tour last approximately two hours and we highly encourage you to bring bottled water and wear comfortable shoes.

Participation is limited to the first 40 individuals to sign up. Registration will begin on May 1. To register to participate in this tour, please contact the Education Department at 309-827-0428 or Registration deadline will be Wednesday, June 26 at 5:00 p.m.

**In case of inclement weather, we will have a PowerPoint presentation on many of the sites featured on the outdoor tour in the Museum’s second floor courtroom**

Friday, June 28

History Out of the Closet: The LGBTQ+ Community in McLean County

Starts at 5:30 PM

Join the Prairie Pride Coalition and the McLean County Museum of History on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots for  History Out of the Closet,  a panel discussion with the LGBTQ community in McLean County. The discussion will be held on Friday, June 28 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at the Museum.  McLean County’s LGBTQ+ community is an integral part of McLean County’s rich history.  But little has been recorded or gathered regarding the experiences of its members because of cultural biases and prejudices. The program will feature community members Dave Bentlin, Jan Lancaster, Bruce Lang, Cameron Hurley, and Olemuel Ashford.  These individuals will discuss their personal experiences in order to bring to light the many challenges and risks the LGBTQ+ community faced prior to the establishment of laws that granted them equal rights and protections in McLean County.  Topics will include social and work lives within an unaccepting community, efforts made to change cultural views and attain equal rights, struggles and successes throughout the AIDS epidemic, and stories of everyday life both in and out of the closet. The panel discussion will be moderated by Mike Matejka.

To learn more about this initiative visit the Museum’s website @  or

the Prairie Pride Coalition’s facebook page.  If you have questions, or

wish to schedule a specific time during this event (or on another date),

contact Museum Curator Susan Hartzold at

Saturday, June 29

History Out of the Closet Preservation Day

Starts at 10:00 AM

History Out of the Closet Preservation Day, an initiative to preserve materials relating to McLean County’s LGBTQ+
community will be held on Saturday, June 29 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Members of the LGBTQ+ community are invited share their stories relating to homeand public life, both positive and negative; clothing and personal items; business related items; and art and music.  Museum staff and volunteers will video record, photograph, and scan these materials as a
way to document them for the future. Members of the LGBTQ+ community, if they choose to, can donate these materials at this time, or they can take them with them along with a flash/thumb drive with the videos, photographs and scans of their materials.  The Museum’s copies will serve as resources for future exhibits, publications, education, outreach, and special programs developed by the Museum in partnership with the Prairie Pride Coalition and members of the LGBTQ+ community. They will also be made available to those wishing to research the history of McLean County’s LGBTQ+ community.

To learn more about this initiative visit the Museum’s website @  or the Prairie Pride Coalition’s facebook page.  If you have questions, or wish to schedule a specific time during this event (or on another date), contact Museum Curator Susan Hartzold at