A Publication of WTVP

The preservation of Peoria’s history has long been in the care of the Peoria Historical Society—since its 1934 inception—but the society’s roots go back even further, to 1839. Whichever date, the society is a wealth of information and a treasury of the city’s artifacts and history.

These artifacts and mementos will soon have a new home, through the collaborative effort to build the Peoria Riverfront Museum. The project is a massive undertaking, but the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has just made it a bit easier.

Through grants and donations, the IMLS has awarded nearly 3,000 museums, libraries and other entities, including the Peoria Historical Society, with the IMLS Connecting to Collections Bookshelf. The Bookshelf is a set of conservation books and online resources that focuses on collections typically found in art or history museums and in libraries’ special collections. It addresses topics such as the philosophy and ethics of collection, collections management and planning and emergency preparedness.

The Bookshelf offers “a wealth of different types of books that will help us with our collections. For instance, there is one book that is just on housekeeping of historic homes,” said Amy Kelly of the Peoria Historical Society. This book, The National Trust Manual of Housekeeping: The Care of Collection in Historic Houses Open to the Public, will help the Society with the care and maintenance of the Pettengill-Morron House Museum and the John C. Flanagan House Museum.

The Bookshelf will also help the Society as they begin cataloguing and preserving the items that will find their way into the Riverfront Museum. “If we run into something that we are not exactly sure how to preserve—if it is not in the best of shape, but it is a valuable artifact—the Bookshelf will help us in knowing what we might do with it. It will give us some guidance,” explained Kelly.

When natural disasters strike, historical items can be damaged, but the resources of the Bookshelf offer guides on restoring such items and protecting them from future disasters. “The museums in the Quad Cities really lost a lot because of the flooding last year,” noted Kelly. Fortunately, the Peoria Historical Society can breathe a bit easier knowing they have an invaluable resource for such emergencies.

The IMLS Connecting to Collections Bookshelf is a resource that the Peoria area can use for decades to come. “It will be something that we will always be able to use and something that will go into the new museum,” said Kelly. It will also be used for educational purposes, as interns and students can also use the books as well. Kelly even invites the community to use its resources if they, too, have artifacts that need preservation, so that Peoria’s history will be remembered and saved for future generations.

For more information about the Connecting to Collections initiative, visit iBi