Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Tremont Museum and Historical Society’s Apron Strings and Kitchen Things exhibit is that it makes local history a personal matter for area residents.
"Almost 100% of this exhibit is (made up of) loaned items from people in this area," said Lori Fuoss, the exhibit’s co-chair. "Depending on peoples’ ages, they might remember their grandma having some of those (items), or their mother, or maybe they used them themselves. I think it just brings a lot of memories when people walk through."
As the name would suggest, the Apron Strings and Kitchen Things exhibit, which opened Saturday, features aprons in different styles from many eras in central Illinois’ history, as well as various kitchen and laundry items. According to Fuoss, some of the pieces on display date back to the mid-1800s.
"I’ve lived all my life in Tremont, so I recognize old names of things that mean a lot to us," said Marthajane Hillman, a hostess for the exhibit. "We knew a lot of the people who used these items. I think other people would be amazed at the variety we have."
Greg Sinn of Tremont was among the exhibit’s first visitors. He and his wife, Pat, found the displays from the 1930s noteworthy because they had often heard their parents reminisce about the Great Depression.
I grew up in Tremont, so everything means a lot to me," Sinn added. "They’ve laid out (the museum) beautifully. It brings back memories from when I was little and we did the canning."
The museum hosts several special exhibits each year to raise funds for museum renovations and operating expenses, according to Hillman. The Apron Strings and Kitchen Things exhibit was initially scheduled for March, but was postponed due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.
Fuoss believes the exhibit will not only appeal to local history buffs, but may create new history enthusiasts. Younger visitors may leave the exhibit with a new sense of appreciation for the progress that has been made since Tremont’s rustic origins in the 1830s. She lavished praise on museum volunteers for their hard work in setting up the exhibit, noting that volunteer and exhibit hostess Jan Lee loaned the museum many of the items on display.
"The volunteers were fantastic," Fuoss aid. "(Exhibit Co-Chairperson) Kay Sommer and I went out and gathered the items from people. The volunteers came every week and helped do whatever needed to be done. There’s a lot of work that goes on with putting on an exhibit."
The Tremont Museum and Historical Society is located at 119-199 W. Madison St., Tremont. The Apron Strings and Kitchen Things Exhibit will be open the second and fourth weekend of each month through September from 1 to 4 p.m. Admission is $8 for lifetime and 2020-21 museum members, $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12. More information is available at www.tremontil.com.