Chicago business leader, Peoria native gives Peoria Riverfront Museum $1 million

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PEORIA, Ill. – The Peoria Riverfront Museum is receiving a $1 million donation.

T. Bondurant “Bon” French, chairman of the board of the Chicago-based private equity firm Adams Street Partners, and his wife, Hollis, announced they are making a $1 million contribution to the central Illinois museum.  

“We make this investment in the Peoria Riverfront Museum now because we believe the Museum is on the rise with a unique multidisciplinary mission that is making a difference for many thousands of people,” Bon French said. “We also wanted to give back to Peoria and supporting the Museum is one of the ways we could do that.”  

French is past chair of the board of the Chicago History Museum and board chair for the Center for Railroad Photography & Art.

Railroad photography is a passion he shared for more than 40 years with the late Peoria mayor C. Richard Neumiller whose daughter, Kate Schureman, is the Peoria Riverfront Museum’s chief operating officer.

French, a Peoria native, graduated from Woodruff High School in 1971.  

“Bon French is among the most respected business leaders and major donors for museums and education in Chicago,” said John D. Morris, president & CEO of the Peoria Riverfront Museum. “When we began discussions about this gift with him last year, we wanted to find a way to help him do something very special for his hometown while also honoring his parents. This extraordinary gift is the largest of its kind from a former Peorian in support of the museum and its mission. Lives will be changed because of it.” 

The gift will create two funds that recognize the work of Bon French’s mother and father.

The first fund will be named for Joan Trenchard French of Peoria Heights, who is one of the founding members of the museum’s predecessor, the Lakeview Museum of Arts & Sciences. Joan French created Lakeview’s original docent and school loan programs and an afterschool outreach program for underserved neighborhoods. She also chaired Lakeview’s first annual fund drive.

The Peoria Riverfront Museum’s “welcome center” on the lower level will be named in her honor.

The second fund will be named for the late Taylor French, who served as chairman of the board of the Lakeview Museum. The Taylor French Decoy Fund will be used to support the new Center for American Decoys at the Peoria Riverfront Museum, recognizing Taylor French’s passion for duck hunting and admiration of decoy folk art. 

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