Tazewell County Museum continues search efforts for additional space

Kristen Urchell

Artifacts that tell the history of Tazewell County, which was established more than 180 years ago, are currently placed in an overcrowded space in Pekin. The Tazewell County Museum and Educational Center is looking to expand their space to successfully display some hidden collections. 

Since opening, the museum has relocated from Broadway Road to its current location at 2950 Court St. in 2007. Both spaces were considered temporary, according to the museum’s president and director, Christal Dagit.

“When we first started, we had large collections that were in storage,” said Dagit. “We really started with less room than we needed.”

The museum has displays involving every aspect of life lived in Tazewell County. Some collections highlight individuals, such as astronaut Scott Altman, or former senator Everett Dirksen, with their personal and professional items. Other displays include antique furniture, veteran collections, statues and even galleries of internationally known artists from the area. Still, the museum has two storage units for items that do not fit into its current location that measures up to 6,000 square feet.

On another temporary basis, museum officials look to simply expand within their space on Court Street, turning current office space into rooms for displays. Dagit is still looking for a better situation.

“The ideal situation would be a new building,” Dagit said. “This is because with the items we have, there is a need for climate control, special needs for items from NASA for the Altman collection and security features. This is hard and sometimes more expensive to do with older buildings.”

Dagit and the museum board have created a search committee for all who are interested in helping the museum find a new space. But, while the search is important to the board, so are the funds for the building.

“The board and I have gone to county and city officials and citizens of Tazewell County for funds,” said Dagit.

In addition, the Tazewell County Museum Building Fund has been in operation for nearly two years, in hopes of paying for the new space. Fundraising events, like the Civil War Tea in Morton at 2 p.m. Saturday, and a matching funds agreement with Caterpillar Inc. help the organization.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays, and Dagit encourages those in Tazewell County to visit.

“I would love the citizens to come in, to see our work and be amazed. This is their museum,” said Dagit. “Every six months, the museum has new additions and collections to see.”

For more information on the museum and the building fund, contact Dagit at 347-8375 during business hours, 346-1889 during business hours when the museum is closed, or by e-mail at dagit1413@comcast.net.