PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Peoria Riverfront Museum is highlighting three of its newest exhibits in honor of its 11th Anniversary.
First on display, celebrating Peoria’s history is “Life and Legacy of Annie Malone.” Malone was an African-American woman millionaire who attended Peoria schools. She later started Poro Hair Care and Poro College, a cosmetics school in St. Louis. The Malone exhibit is the first exhibit Assistant Curator Everley Davis has curated at the museum.
“As a black woman being able to share the story of a black woman that wanted to empower other black woman, it was a fruitful experience,” said Davis. “Being able to know that she really was a community builder and to see that and to be able to touch the pieces of history that were hers and to know that her legacy and impact still stand today.”
Also featured “Duryea: America’s First Car Company” presented by the Rucker Family.
“We’re trying to inspire students,” said Mike Rucker, who is a Duryea historian.
According to the museum, the Duryea Motor Wagon Company co-founded by Charles and Frank Duryea in 1896, was the first American company to mass produce, market and sell gasoline-power automobiles. The exhibit includes an 1898 Peoria Motor Trap constructed on Barker Avenue.
“What we want to do is inspire people, particularly children, particularly students to think in inventive terms. You know if you didn’t have this how would you go about inventing it?,” said Rucker.
During its time, the Peoria Motor Trap made it to the east coast and was brought back to Peoria in 1991. Rucker said the museum will be its forever home.
While you may not be able to drive the Peoria Motor Trap down I-74 to Normal, when you get to the town, you’ll probably hear art enthusiasts mention internationally renowned artist Nicolas Africano. The sculptures in the exhibition “Nicolas Africano: Themes and Variations” were acquired through the museum’s anniversary fund. The featured painting was a gift from Africano himself. Chief Curator Bill Conger says the museum is lucky to display the works of Africano, who’s been living in Normal for nearly 60 years.
“It’s a great, great opportunity to have the artist with us,” said Conger. “Not just a contemporary artist I should say, this is a contemporary artist who is in a pinnacle moment of his mature work.”