The Champaign County Historical Museum has been closed for renovation for over a year, and is almost ready for the public. Mark your calendars for the grand reopening at the end of the month. See the press release below for more information about the event. Photo from Facebook

They're back! The Champaign County Historical Museum, at the historic Cattle Bank on 102 E University in Champaign, will be reopening with brand-new exhibits on Saturday, April 29, 2017.

The ribbon-cutting, by Champaign Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen, will be at 10 AM. From then until 5 PM, the museum will have special events, including the museum's historic popcorn truck offering free popcorn, historic crafts for children of all ages, and tours of the renovated exhibit space. Items ranging from the gun belonging to early Champaign County settler Frank Sadorus to the Olympic Gold Medal-winning speed skater Bonnie Blair's skates will be on display and newly interpreted.

The new museum has three main exhibits in newly-renovated spaces.

The first exhibit, "A Second Home," offers an exploration of the ways student life U of I has changed over the 150 years of the University's existence. Featuring reconstructed student rooms from 1867, 1917, 1967 and 2017, this exhibit allows visitors to see the constants in student life, as well as appreciate some welcome changes.

"When We Went to War" presents a new view of the familiar story of the Second World War--one centered on the stories of individual men and women from the county itself. From the home front to the front lines, multimedia stories of Champaign County's participation in World War II show both the county and the war in a new light.

"Museums Uncrated" features a dive into what a museum does, from collecting items from the community to preserving artifacts and choosing items from storage to display. Children can curate their own exhibits from a selection of "artifacts," while adults can learn about the ways museums protect their artifacts--and how to apply those methods to their valuables.

Finally, "The Art of Louise Woodroofe" showcases this fascinating Champaign County artist, highlighting early works from her childhood and artifacts from her life traveling with the Ringling Brothers Circus, as well as her better-known clown paintings.

The museum will be open from 1 to 5 PM on Thursdays and Fridays, and from 10 AM to 5 PM on Saturdays and Sundays. The museum's local history research library (open by appointment) and reservable meeting room also reopen on the 29th.

The Champaign County Historical Museum is the steward of over 20,000 artifacts directly tied to the history of Champaign County. The mission of the CCHM is to discover, collect, preserve, exhibit, study and interpret these objects, and to provide educational programs about the County’s heritage and the Museum’s collections. For more information, visit champaigncountyhistory.org, or contact Jon Sweitzer-Lamme at collections@champaigncountyhistory.org .