The Spurlock Museum is pleased to announce that we reopened on Sept. 8. A few new rules are in place, and we appreciate your help maintaining a space that is both engaging and safe.
Please make sure to wear your mask and follow social-distancing recommendations while in the building. If you plan to bring a group of five or more, please make a reservation at firstname.lastname@example.org. Whether you hope to visit soon or are interested in virtual opportunities, we have something to offer.
New temporary exhibits
Our exhibit “Blues Dancing and Its African American Roots” opened only one week before COVID-19 closed our doors, so we are extending its stay through the end of May 2021. The exhibit celebrates a family of social and popular dance practices of everyday people within African American communities in the U.S. The dances were and are done to blues music from gospel to jazz, acoustic Delta blues, electric Chicago blues and more. Included in the exhibit are artworks by contemporary artists, archival photographs and video interviews with local African American community members and university alumni.
Just in time for the fall elections, the Spurlock will be opening “Debates, Decisions, Demands: Objects of Campaigns and Activism” on Oct. 16. The exhibit explores different ways an individual can be involved in politics: as a candidate, campaigner, voter and protester. Many of the objects on display are from a single collection from John and Jean Thompson: “The People’s Collection of U.S. History and Culture.” Joining these objects are loaned exhibits that focus on documents and photographs: “Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow” organized by the New York Historical Society, “Rightfully Hers” from the National Archives and “Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence” from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. “Debates, Decisions, Demands” will be on display through May 23, 2021.
Though we are not offering in-person events and programs this fall, we’re scheduling live virtual events to reach you wherever you are. For example, a series of Contemporary Conversation discussions related to the blues dance exhibit is in the works. For further information about all upcoming events, visit our online calendar at spurlock.illinois.edu/events. All events are free and open to the public.
Activities and programs
In-person tours and outreach are also not being offered, but the education staff is working on three ways to connect to both virtual and in-house visitors. For small family or home-school groups visiting the galleries, a variety of artifact-based explorations will be available on our website’s Gallery Activities page (spurlock.illinois.edu/visit/gallery-activities). These can be printed out at home before your visit or picked up at the information desk. Live, culture-based education programs can be scheduled during museum hours Tuesday through Friday. Prepared assignments that can be accessed for classroom instruction or individual homework tasks will also be available. Information on live programs and prepared assignments can be accessed through the website’s Educators page (spurlock.illinois.edu/educators).
Kim Sheahan is Spurlock Museum’s assistant director of education and resident storyteller. She performs multicultural folktales and historical one-woman shows for audiences of all ages throughout central Illinois.