Big improvements are in store for the Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum, thanks to a $662,545 Public Museums Capital Grant from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Governor JB Pritzker recently announced that 36 Illinois museums will receive a total of $19.7 million through the Rebuild Illinois capital program. Kidzeum is the only other recipient of a Public Museum Capital Grant in Sangamon County. (See March 10-16, 2022, Illinois Times).
The museum, located just outside the Oak Ridge Cemetery entrance on Monument Avenue, is dedicated to telling authentic stories about African-American life in central Illinois. The grant will be used to add two partitioned exhibit galleries, a meeting room which will be available to the community and exhibit storage. The project also includes capital improvements to the roof and other building infrastructure. The city of Springfield owns the land and the building which houses the museum and is the fiscal agent for the project.
"The renovation of the building with this grant will greatly improve the quality of the exhibits, programs and activities that can be offered by having the additional space," said Carolyn Farrar, president of the museum's board. "The community meeting room will allow multiple uses of the museum."
Farrar says they are committed to expanding exhibits and programs and providing greater outreach to younger visitors. "We want to offer state-of-the-art digital exhibits," said Farrar. The museum is working with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Illinois State Museum to plan a digital exhibit of the Springfield 1908 Race Riot. This grant will provide the necessary gallery space and configuration to make this exhibit possible.