2022 Special Exhibit

A History of Healing

Infectious diseases and community responses to defeat them

Infectious diseases are constant human companions. They cause suffering, create fear, and may end in death. However, governments, public health departments, scientists, healthcare workers, and entire communities aggressively respond to combat, contain, and defeat these diseases. 

The exhibit focuses on the impact and influence of such diseases as the 1918 flu, smallpox, malaria, tuberculosis, polio, typhoid, cholera, HIV, AIDS, and COVID-19. When viewing this exhibit, visitors will build an appreciation and basic understanding of the historic influences disease had over people’s lives and communities, both in central Illinois and abroad, resulting in a better understanding of how disease affects us today and informs our responses to it. In addition to examining the impact disease has had on the health and well-being of local communities, the exhibit will highlight particular instances in the past, as well as the present, where local citizens came together during previous epidemics and pandemics for the betterment of their communities.

Understanding the hardships, changes, and responses wrought in Champaign County and abroad allows us to prepare and respond to infectious disease today and tomorrow.

Vanishing Acts: Trees Under Threat

Vanishing Acts

This exhibit gives a compelling look at threatened and endangered trees and the importance of taking action to save them. Human driven processes such as overexploitation, habitat loss and climate change are accelerating the rates of extinction for many species, including trees. Currently, 10% of all tree species are threatened with extinction.

Beyond their aesthetic beauty, trees are often integral parts of their ecosystems, as well as providing humans with food, lumber and medicine. Tree conservationists and scientists are bringing light to the issue of tree extinctions, showing the incredible diversity of threatened trees, and informing the public on how they can help to save them.

The Grand Prairie Story

The Grand Prairie Story

Each of us has our own story, a story of living here-- on the verge of the Grand Prairie. Our stories inform our lives and the lives of those around us. Come visit and read, see, listen to, to stories of Native Americans and settlers, farmers and city folk, Irish and Germans and African Americans. Reflect on how the stories of others are similar to, or different from your own.

“History is not the past. It is a story about the past, told in the present, and designed to be useful in constructing the future” ....Henry Glassie

­­Frieda Mumm’s Discovering Home

Home is a place of purpose, family, and familiarity.  Though people’s homes may be very different, these basic similarities extend all the way from homes of the past to the places we call home today.

Frieda Mumm’s Discovering Home is a major upgrade of the museum’s popular Discovery Room gallery. Visitors will venture into the home lives of settlers and native peoples in Illinois through interactive play and interpretation.  This new exhibit retains many of the old favorites, like the hearth, water buckets, and telegraph key, while adding many new areas to explore, like animal furs, a dugout canoe, and a post office.

This new exhibit was made possible by a generous gift from long-time museum volunteer, Frieda Mumm.

Blacksmithing on the Prairie

Blacksmithing on the Prairie

Come see the family blacksmith shop, a shop begun by A.B Chesebro, in Saunemin, Illinois in 1896 and brought to the Museum of the Grand Prairie!

In 1993, the museum’s staff walked into a block and frame shop that Ralph Chesebro, A.B.’s son, had walked out of for the last time in the 1930's. Oral history interviews were recorded with Ralph’s family, the shop itself was tirelessly drawn to scale, photographed and videoed; the contents of the shop have been moved; each of 5500 objects has been marked and accessioned into the museum's collections; research on the Chesebro's, Saunemin and area blacksmiths has been conducted; and –within the walls of the museum-- the shop itself was partially reconstructed. Enjoy the interactives, see the wagon equipment, and view the tools of the blacksmith trade in this comprehensive exhibit.

Champaign County's Lincoln

Champaign County's Lincoln

The built environment that Lincoln knew in Champaign County is almost completely gone and the natural environment is vastly altered. Through our exhibit, "Champaign County's Lincoln" we recreate those places, and evoke that lost environment.

Visitors will appreciate the era in which Lincoln made friends, worked and built his political career in our community!

Our visitors can enter the county, the way Lincoln did, in a buggy. They can visit Kelley's tavern, have their photograph taken in Alschuler's studio, and visit the Goose Pond Church where they'll hear neighbors talking about the political issues of 1856 as they wait for Lincoln to arrive.

Click here to see a brief video clip of Lincoln's ride!

Click here for more information about Champaign County's Lincoln Exhibit

Online Exhibits

This Legacy is Yours - Click to view Exhibit

Your Legacy Too - Click to view Exhibit

Gray Family Photos - Click to view Exhibit

Do you have family photographs that reveal something about life in Champaign County? Nellie Gray took these intriguing photographs of her family farm in the area of Sidell, Illinois over 100 years ago. We invite you to view a few of her efforts in this slide show.

If you have old family photographs we might just want to see them!

East Frisians - Click to view Exhibit

In 1994, the Museum of the Grand Prairie completed an oral history project with the East Frisian Community of northeastern Champaign County. This online exhibit, summarizes some of the experiences of early farmers who drained the wet prairie and made it the productive farmland it is today.