IO Mary Lincoln Feb 17

Mary Todd Lincoln will stop by Mahomet’s Museum of the Grand Prairie on Feb. 17, 2020, to help celebrate Presidents Day.

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This is a good time of year to hibernate, but really, the Museum of the Grand Prairie only appears to slow down.

Winter hours for January and February begin Jan. 1 at the museum. We are still open from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and are busy hosting field trips, offering public programs and preparing a new special exhibit for you.

Two great schools-out days are coming up. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 20), staff will be delving into the rich African American history of Champaign County while appreciating the legacy of Dr. King with a family program from 1 to 3 p.m.; and from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 17, we’ll be celebrating Presidents Day with a twist. Come meet Mary Todd Lincoln (yes, the 16th president’s wife) as she helps us celebrate with Abraham’s favorite cake.

Beginning March 1, the museum is open from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday (all week!).

On March 7, we’ll open the new exhibit, “How Long Must Women Wait? Women’s Suffrage and Women’s Rights in Champaign County.” The exhibit features local notable women like Julia Burnham, Mary Busey and Lillie Belle Sale, who were active in the suffrage and other social movements.

The exhibit commemorates the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, allowing this very basic human right to women.

On June 4, 1919, the amendment was passed by Congress but needed ratification by two-thirds of the states to take effect. Illinois was the first state to ratify the amendment! We’ll follow these national events while revealing the local perspective on such a momentous time in our nation’s history.

Despite getting the vote, women continue to struggle for equal treatment in society: This ongoing struggle for women’s rights is discussed, too. The exhibit opening is scheduled for 1:30 to 4 p.m. March 7. Beginning at 2 p.m. , students from Eastern Illinois University’s Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies program will provide short first-person interpretations of famous women in history as part of the university’s Living History Project. You won’t want to miss this — and it’s free.

But that’s not all that’s happening this winter. The icy winter months, when the plants are dormant, is the best time for gardeners to learn new tricks. The museum is offering talks on gardening in an era of climate change, so reserve Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. Jan. 26, Feb. 9 and March 29 for those talks.

And again this year, museum staff will be offering a hands-on demonstration about maple sugaring on Feb. 22 and 29 at Homer Lake, with four sessions available for sign-up.

And if you have a passion for history and want to share it, we’re offering a new opportunity. It’s called “Interpret The Past, Educate The Present,” a museum-docent training workshop happening from 2 to 4 p.m. Feb. 2 or March 11.

More info is available on our Facebook page, at or by calling 217-586-2612. We’re located at 950 N. Lombard St., just outside Mahomet.

Barb Oehlschlaeger-Garvey is the director of the museum and education department of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District.

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