Morning High, October 23, 2021 | Story

Most of the 20,000 objects in the collection of the Champaign County History Museum are in an off-site storage unit, preserved but invisible to the community.

President TJ Blakeman and museum staff, interns and volunteers are doing their best to change that.

This week, the museum launched a website that currently contains photos and information relating to 15,038 of these objects.

“The fundamental thing that we do at the museum is to maintain this collection – to grow it, cultivate it and use it to interpret and educate people,” said Blakeman. “But the hard part is that (people) rarely see the collection. Our exhibits can hold 10 or 15 objects at most, and the collection is extensive.

“Going back to 2015, when we completely rebuilt the museum, the goal was to give the public access to this collection.

The website has collections and catalogs, but it also has a section where a user can press a button to see random objects, whether it’s an oil painting from then-Sen . William B. McKinley, an old wooden golf ball, or one of the many articles from The News-Gazette’s former headquarters in downtown Champaign.

Blakeman said some of the eight museum interns in the University of Illinois Department of Museum Studies are working on the project, as are several volunteers who photograph artifacts and fill out the website with those currently in their possession. by classifying new items as they arrive. in.

“We had a really great community run bringing some really amazing things to the museum so the collection continued to grow,” said Blakeman. “We will continue to connect. As we bring back (each item) from our deep storage, which is kept entirely offsite, we will photograph those items and put them on the website.

About Elaine Morales

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