SPRINGFIELD – Voters in the Land of Lincoln have selected the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum as the state’s top museum. It was followed by the Field Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry in online voting for the
Illinois Top 200 project.
The top five also includes the McLean County Museum of History and the Art Institute of Chicago.
“Considering all the wonderful museums in Illinois, coming out on top is a great compliment to our institution,” said Alan Lowe, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. “More importantly, I think it shows how much Illinoisans treasure President Lincoln and his legacy.”
The Illinois Top 200 project lets Illinoisans vote every two weeks on the most inspiring leaders, greatest books, top businesses and much more. By the state’s 200th birthday on Dec. 3, voters will have chosen 10 favorites in 20 different categories – the Illinois Top 200.
Voting in the next category, top books, is underway at www.IllinoisTop200.com. Nominees include “The Jungle,” “Infinite Jest,” “Native Son” and “Across Five Aprils.”
Here are the top 10 museums:
- Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum – This Springfield institution celebrates the 16th president’s life and legacy. Visitors can see rare Lincoln artifacts, immerse themselves in scenes from his life and enjoy shows that use special effects to engage audiences.
- Museum of Science and Industry – Housed in a building from the 1893 Chicago world’s fair, this museum lets visitors explore technological marvels such as a full-size replica coal mine, a World War II submarine and an Apollo command module.
- Field Museum – Visit this Chicago museum – which about 1.8 million people do each year – and you could look beneath a mummy’s bandages, come face to face with the largest T. Rex ever found, get a bug’s-eye view of the world or learn all about DNA.
- McLean County Museum of History – Museums can have a local focus while still producing exhibits with broad appeal. The McLean County Museum mixes engaging takes on local history with offbeat exhibits like children’s pedal cars and food trends.
- Art Institute of Chicago – The Art Institute is home to such famous paintings as Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist and Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. It also has amazing collections of armor, textiles, photographs, architectural drawings and more.
- Cedarhurst Center for the Arts – Set on 90 acres in Mount Vernon, Cedarhurst offers a sprawling sculpture garden, an art center with classrooms and gallery space, a performance hall and art displays from a private collection.
- Illinois State Museum – This museum, with locations in Springfield, Lockport and Lewistown, covers history, natural history, and art. Its Illinois Legacy Collection of 13.5 million objects includes fossils, Native American relics, geological and plant specimens, historical objects and works of art.
- Peoria Riverfront Museum – This museum offers something for practically everyone: a gallery on the Illinois River, interactive exhibits on high school sports, hands-on discovery areas for children and a look at Peoria’s rich history.
- Chicago History Museum – A devastating fire, legendary politicians, world-class architecture, groundbreaking art — all of it is part of Chicago’s history and of the Chicago History Museum.
- Cantigny Park – This 500-acre park in Wheaton is home to two museums. One focuses on former Chicago Tribune publisher Robert McCormick and the other on “the Big Red One” – the U.S. Army’s First Infantry Division – from World War I to the present day.
“The Prairie State has more than 1,000 museums, and this poll highlights some of its best. Museums – large and small and those representing the fields of art, history, science and natural history – have amazing stories to tell about our shared past through the objects and documents in their collections,” said Karen Everingham, president of the Illinois Association of Museums. “Congratulations to the ALPLM and all the museums who made the list.”
Other museums that were part of the voting include: Chicago’s DuSable Museum of African American History, Rockford’s Burpee Museum of Natural History, Skokie’s Illinois Holocaust Museum and the Children’s Museum of Illinois in Decatur.
The Illinois Top 200 is a joint initiative of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, The (Springfield) State Journal-Register and the Illinois Bicentennial Commission. The presidential library had no role in collecting or counting the votes.
Future categories include authors, musicians, actors, leaders and unforgettable moments. Everyone is invited to suggest possible nominees in each category by using the hashtag #ILtop200 on social media.