Museums in central Illinois and across the state are valuable treasures that link us to the past and stimulate our imaginations for the future. The Tazewell County Museum and Educational Center in Pekin is one of those quiet treasures that has world-class artifacts for everyone in central Illinois. The museum is dedicated to the preservation and protection of items important in the development of Tazewell County and to educating the public concerning those things.

Because of the rich history in Tazewell County, the museum is able to provide a wide variety of exhibits that all ages will find interesting. The most recent addition to the center is the Scott Altman room. Altman, a Tazewell County native and commander on several space shuttle missions, has been very generous in donating items from previous shuttle trips. He has also been instrumental in having NASA provide artifacts for the museum that can only be seen in central Illinois.

Another fascinating portion of the center is the part dedicated to the statesmen who have impacted our country. Former U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen has several items on display. As an aside, Pekin also features the private, non-partisan research and educational Dirksen Congressional Center that gives people from around the country an opportunity to study genuine leadership from individuals who have been great leaders. Tazewell County was also impacted deeply by Abe Lincoln, and information regarding his many trips to our county can be studied.

Other items and topics of interest include: wartime memorabilia from the Civil War to our country’s most recent conflicts, railroad photos and documents, historical documents with information regarding the early French explorers and the founding of Fort Creve Coeur, plus many more items for everyone’s interest.

Unfortunately, like so many museums including our neighbors in Peoria, space and finances are a constant issue. Many items are now in a storage facility because of the limited space and the great number of items that have been donated or loaned over the years. Ideally, the Tazewell County Museum and Educational Center would have its own dedicated home with sufficient space to house all of these magnificent treasures and enough room to have classrooms and a lecture hall.

The museum is under very competent and passionate leadership that stewards the resources that have been entrusted to them with care and dedication. The president and director of the Museum, Christal Dagit, works tirelessly with the Center’s board to identify new artifacts for display and new sources of revenue in order to make the museum more accessible to everyone.

The Museum and Educational Center is located at 2950 Court Street in Pekin and has ample parking for cars and school buses. The hours of operation are Monday and Wednesday from 10am to 2pm, and Saturday from 10am to 12pm. You can also see the exhibits by appointment by calling (309) 346-1889. Membership information can be obtained by calling the same number.

Central Illinois and Tazewell County have so much from our past to be proud of. Why not take some time in the near-future and reconnect with our past by visiting the Tazewell County Museum and Educational Center? iBi