PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Peoria Riverfront Museum is opening its doors Saturday, March 6, after a year of pandemic closures.
On Friday morning, March 5, the museum held a presser honoring local artist Preston Jackson for his work, “From Bronzeville to Harlem: An American Story.“
Jackson gifted the collection to the museum, which is one of three new exhibits. It is an homage to African American history, showcasing “the stories of American migration and immigration, hope and opportunity, freedom and the struggle for equality.”
The collection, which took 25 years to complete, is comprised of hundreds of bronze and steel figures, buildings, relief sculptures, automobiles, roads and bridges.
“It’s a sculptural installation, meaning you are to enter inside, walk through it, experience it top to bottom, any way you can. There’s not a wrong way to see Bronzeville to Harlem,” said Bill Conger, Chief Curator at Peoria Riverfront Museum.
Another exhibit, “101 Treasures of the Peoria Riverfront Museum Collection,” was curated to tell the story of the museum itself.
“I believe there’s not a better time to reopen the museum that with an exhibition celebrating 50-plus years of a museum’s dedication to their city,” said Conger.
The new exhibitions were designed with education in mind. Through the museum’s Every Student Initiative, Peoria District 150 and East Peoria District 86 students can see them for free.
“We are the only museum of our kind. Art, science, history, achievement. But we use those disciplines to do one thing – it is to inspire people every day,” said John Morris, president and CEO of Peoria Riverfront Museum.
The third exhibit, “Community: African American Experience During Migration,” won’t be open until March 13.