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The things we make, use and collect tell stories about our lives. They document our character, culture and experience through time. These things help us work and stay safe. They provide comfort, joy and beauty. Our things also document our sadness and troubles. We often take our things for granted, but some resonate with us. We all have our favorites, things that speak to us and for us.

The Museum of the Grand Prairie’s newest exhibit, “Personal Resonance: Favorite Artifacts from the Collections,” helps tell the stories of beloved museum artifacts hand-picked by staff members. An important job of a museum is collecting and preserving artifacts. These artifacts were people’s things and tell their stories. Sharing and interpreting them helps visitors remember their own stories and learn about the stories of others. Artifacts also connect people, both through time and experience. This exhibit features four cases filled with artifacts and their stories that staff want to share with you.

Barb Garvey, director of the museum and Education Department, is a big baseball fan and, of course, historian.

Pairing those two passions, Barb selected many artifacts to help tell the story of local baseball history. Featuring early bats, baseballs and caps, Barb describes central Illinois’ place in the development of the sport known as “our national game.”

Having over 25 years of experience in the museum field as well as a special interest in archaeology, I took a look at stone tools left behind by early central Illinois inhabitants. Using items such as early axe heads, drills and projectile points from as far back as 14,000 to 10,000 years ago, these discoveries of discarded items help archaeologists and historians in telling the stories of those who lived in this area long before us.

During a recent visit to our collections work room, Katie Snyder, education program specialist, took notice of the Bechtol haircomb collection. Containing over 150 beautiful haircombs from the 1850s to the 1960s, many are made from unstable and flammable plastic. These pieces not only show how specific fashion and style trends change over time, but how changes in larger society can be reflected in what we wear.

In the last case, Pat Cain, public programs and visitor services coordinator, wanted to share how a historic magazine captured “moments in time.”

Containing nearly every issue from 1955 to 1987, Pat has always enjoyed flipping through the Hodges collection of TIME Magazine covers. Looking at the voices and events featured on the front and back covers, as well as what was left out, we can identify important elements of our culture and how it has evolved over time.

Check out this exhibit for yourself soon! The Museum of the Grand Prairie is located inside Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve at 950 N. Lombard St. in Mahomet. The museum is currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. Local public-health guidelines regarding COVID-19 are in place at the museum. Due to capacity limits, visitors are encouraged to reserve their space prior to visiting.

For more information, find the Museum of the Grand Prairie on social media, visit their website museumofthegrandprairie.org or call 217-586-2612.

Mark Hanson is curator of the museum and can be reached at mhanson@ccfpd.org.

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