Heartland Highways Episode 1006

Uploaded by weiutv on 30.03.2012

Next on Heartland Highways, weíll stop by the Douglas County Museum in Tuscola, Illinois.
Here, unique and rotating local exhibits have been featured for over 25 years. Then, The
Museum of the Grand Prairie in Mahomet, Illinois, offers a cultural connection to the Illinois
land. Finally weíll check out the, Cedarhurst Center for the Arts which offers year-round
visual and performing arts for people of all ages
to appreciate. Thatís just ahead, so donít go away
The Douglas County Museum in Tuscola has been showcasing exhibits for over 25 years. The
museum has ties to Walt Disney, with one of their exhibits, "Everything Animation". You'll
see items from television and movies such as Garfield, Bugs Bunny, and Mickey Mouse
to name a few. There is "History in Everything" at the Douglas County Museum.
I used to work for a local newspaper, Iím one of the founders of the museum, and I used
to work for a local newspaper and there were a lot of people who when I went to do interviews
with them who said, ìI donít know whatís going to happen to my stuff. When I die, my
kids donít care. I just donít know whatís going to happen to it.î And I realized that
there was no place to keep those really important artifacts that tell stories of the life here
in East Central Illinois and I thought that there was really a need for it.
(Narrator) Along with the two other co-founders of the museum, Lucille Murray and Rusty Hastings,
Lynnita Brown needed a place to call home for the Museum Association of Douglas County.
This was the place that we needed to be and we got this building in 1987 and started to
do the remodeling then. We were able to approach the people in the community, tell them how
bad we needed a museum here, and they pitched in. Started giving items like desks and chairs
and things like that that we knew we were going to need in the museum and, and a lot
of volunteers pitched in and we cleaned up the place.
(Narrator) Set on South Main Street in Tuscola, Illinois, the Douglas County Museum grew in
the number of volunteers who had helped out. And by the end of 1992, over 500 people had
helped out the museum. This museum could not have survived without
volunteers and we have volunteers here who have literally put in thousands of hours on
behalf of this museum without ever getting paid for it, so theyíre the ones that made
it happen. We all did. We all ñ those of us who have volunteered through the years
and then the public that came in to support us financially also helped make it happen.
So it really has been a joint effort between volunteers and the community.
(Narrator) And the hard work of so many in those first few years resulted in the Albert
Corrie Award in 1993, a national award that awarded the Douglas County Museum for its
excellence in preserving and interpreting Douglas Countyís history.
We are known for really nice, quality programs weíve had. Weíve had authors, weíve had
the man that created paint-by-number has been here as a program. Weíve had concerts and
musicals and just nice, educational programs. (Narrator) With the exhibits being displayed
from three to four months at a time, half the year, or even an entire year, Miss Brown
says there is no shortage of memories that have been generated by the collections that
have donned the interior of the museum over the past 25 years.
The biggest program that we ever had was when we had two survivors from Schindlerís List.
And we had 200 people in the audience two nights in a row listening to these really
fabulous survivors telling about wanting to get the word out that the Holocaust is real
even though there are those who think it wasnít. (Narrator) In the fall of 2011, the museum
opened their doors to everything animation. Products from animated television shows and
movies such as Sesame Street and Disney will be on display through the Spring of 2012.
When the Douglas County Museum has an exhibit, we ask the public to bring things in to put
on display on a temporary basis. These are some of the oldest toys in here, these are
original Marx toys that were given out at Disney World when they had openings and things
like that and there are banks up here. We tag our showcases before we actually make
a regular label so we know who brought what in and we have a lady that brought in quite
a lot of Garfield this time and we have those on display. Mickey Mouse of course is a favorite
with a lot of people so we have a lot of Mickey Mouse in here and Pixar, Disney-Pixar, and
all kinds of things Disney in here. This particular lady like, um, the Disney villains, so we
have a showcase that has a lot of the Disney villain items. One of the things that uh we
found out a few years ago was that two of the men who are among the most famous of the
older, original Disney animators, their mothers were both from Tuscola. The interesting thing
about it is that neither one of their mothers knew each other when they were living in Tuscola,
but they grew up to marry and move out to California and once they moved out to California
then they each had a talented son that became a Disney animator and they became best friends,
Frank and Ollie. Frank and Ollie came up with things like the scenes with Bambi sliding
on the ice in wintertime and Lady and the Tramp uh eating uh the spaghetti on both ends
of the spaghetti. Um, they also uh, they also wrote all four of the books that are in the
showcase and they had a video made about their lifetime friendship. Lived next door, and
both of them are now deceased, but their families go back to the original settlers here in Douglas
County. Last year we published whatís called the Jarmon Baby Book and that was the culmination
of a project that lasted about 10 years of us trying to find what happened, who were
they and what happened to all the babies that were born at the local Jarmon Memorial Hospital.
It was just a wonderful project and just really interesting. We found out information about
the doctors that delivered the babies, learned something about the doctors that you donít
normally learn if youíre just a patient. You donít learn that the doctor liked to
fish and that kind of thing. Itís a bit like going home and having a messy house and you
gotta clean it up, but when you get it all cleaned up, it just looks so great. Itís
hard work to do it, but itís, but itís great whenever itís all done and people think your
place is great. And thatís the same way it is with the Douglas County Museum, when you
come in here and weíre between exhibits is what we call it, the place looks, looks pretty
rough. You know, weíve got tables set up and you know weíve got items laying on tables
and weíve got papers that weíre cutting and scissors laying around and tape and all
kinds of stuff getting ready for an exhibit. And then when we get it all put together and
people come in and, and they really like it, and, and, and they learn something and, and
we know that weíve done something great as far as preserving an item that comes in and
youíre just amazed that that thing still exists. People who are not from around here
come in and say, ìGosh, I wish our town had a museum like this.î Sometimes people will
call us and say, ìWhat is it that you want?î And weíve learned to not answer that question
and we say, ìWhat is it that you have?î Because if we say what we want, then we will
pass up those things that we didnít know that they had. Thereís history in everything,
there really is! Thereís history in a Happy Meal toy. And thereís history in everything
thatís around us, itís just a matter of not being aware that that history is there
and thatís part of the job of the Douglas County Museum staff is to make the public
be aware that thereís history in everything. Now you can watch Heartland Highways online
anytime. Check us out on youtube.com/weiutv. Once youíre there just look for the Heartland
Highways playlist which will take you to a list of full episodes from seasons 7, 8, 9.
And 10.
Prairie Museum Well the museum was built in 1968 to house the collection
of William Redhead. He had about 3,000 pieces that represented early American life on the
prairie and they were all placed in glass display cases for people to see when they
came to visit the museum. Perfect for the time period. Told the story as he wanted it
to be told, but very different from the museum that you see today.
(Narrator) What you see today is the Museum of the Grand Prairie, a sprawling collection
of displays and artifacts from before Americans came to Illinois through the 20th century.
The museum has been around, but it was called the Early American Museum. Why the name change?
Well, it was named Early American Museum because the collection represented early American
life, so that was a natural title. And in all the years uh that Iíve been here you
know, and I travel outside Champaign County, people would say, ìWell, early American,
isnít that Colonial history? Why would you have a Colonial history museum, you know here
in Illinois?î And of course early American can be many things depending on where you
are in the country. (Narrator) And where these early Americans
found themselves was on the edge of a sea of prairie, far different from anything many
of them had ever experienced. It was this meeting of two strong forces, each acting
on the other. To a story of place and so weíre looking
at this landscape that man arrived in. What did it look like? How did it come to be what
it was when the first settlers came here? And how has it evolved since? And whatís
the impact of man on his environment? And the environment on man?
(Narrator) The effect on man was profound. Well, Iím telling you, just about everyone
who came here uh initially saw the prairie as nearly like a desert because, although
it was a wet desert, because it was very difficult to cultivate, um almost impossible to navigate
um because the prairie grasses could be as much as 8 feet tall and their roots were nearly
as deep. So to cultivate it, it was difficult to cultivate because its roots were so deep.
And of course you couldnít see through a sea of 8-foot grass.
(Narrator) They might not have been able to see through it, but the early settlers in
Illinois managed to slowly change the sea of grass into small farms. These changes are
told by the items they left. Well, you know, each artifact that we have
represents a story. And thatís what I love about the artifacts. And itís really interesting
that the very first thing that people see when they come in is a bison skull and people
say, ìI had no idea we had bison here!î Um, and you wouldnít because theyíre not
here now. (Narrator) The environment that the original
settlers found slowly changed. And so, too, did the people who moved here.
We have some really early clocks and one of the, there were only a few things that were
taxed when, um Champaign became a county. One of them was your income, of course, um
your livestock and your clocks. So, that story alone tells you how, what a precious thing
a clock was. (Narrator) The museum also pays tribute to
a local lawyer who too, was shaped by the land he grew up in. The man, Abraham Lincoln.
We tried to tell the story of Lincoln, particularly in Champaign County. Um and I think his, his
experience in Champaign County was typical, like it was in Champaign County all of the
years that he practiced on the, on the 8th circuit, um he came to Champaign County, so
he had a long time to make a lot of, you know, close acquaintances, a lot of people that
he he visited each time he came. And I think that helps a lot to humanize Lincoln, it makes
uh us realize that there are people whose grandchildren, great grandchildren, great-great
grandchildren, still live here, work with us, that Lincoln knew.
(Narrator) Lincoln is so respected that the museum takes pains to show the human side
of our 16th president. You know, Lincoln was a, was a goofball. I
mean really thatís the way I feel about it! He um, there was a hotel that he stayed in
in Urbana uh where the uh proprietor woke everyone every morning with the breakfast
gong which rang at 6:30 or something like that and um it became increasingly annoying
to the lawyers and to the judge because they didnít want to get up that early; they certainly
didnít want to be awakened by a gong, so Lincoln um, conspired with his friends to
steal the gong. And he just, you know, um they used to have those um slide out tops
on tables um so he just hid it underneath one of the tables in the dining room.
(Narrator) The Museum of the Grand Prairie doesnít just tell the story of this place
with artifacts, the museum sits next to a 6-mile long path that goes from woodland to
prairie just as the original settlers would have experienced it.
Well of course the bike path um is for us the purpose is to bring people through that
environment and the land across from the museum, which is called Buffalo Trace, is being redeveloped
into a prairie area and so itís an opportunity to get our audiences, whether theyíre walking,
whether theyíre biking or whether theyíre rollerblading, um whether theyíre strolling
with their children, to get them out into the environment and get them to learn about
a sense of place, what this place was like. (Narrator) One is amazed with the variety
of the path. Tall grasses, tiny ponds, small groves of trees. Birds are all over and deer
have been known to move along the path. It helps the walker experience how small one
can feel in the middle of a wet desert. Sometimes we forget about the impact of what
weíre doing has on the land and the landscape around us and how do we use that environment
so that we have a good life, but how do we give back so that weíre not destroying that
environment so generations to come: children, grandchildren, have this wonderful place to
live as well. In Mt. Vernon Illinois avid art collectors
John and Eleanor Mitchell acquired a significant collection of late 19th and early 20th century
American Paintings and sculptures. Upon their deaths, the couple left their entire estate
and collection to the residents and visitors of Southern Illinois. Today the Cedar Hurst
Center for the Arts offers year round visual and performing arts for people of all ages
to appreciate. Mr. Mitchell's family was here. He grew up
here. He went to the University of Illinois. Mrs. Mitchell came from northern Illinois,
and came here to teach school. She started the art and the PE department at the Mt. Vernon
Township High School. And they met at a shooting club here in Mt. Vernon.
There is a little story about their meeting. Someone introduced them, and she said, oh,
I met the most impertinent young man. But he obviously impressed her and asked her out
on date. And it was history after that. (Narrator) John and Eleanor loved to travel
all over the world. They also shared a deep love for art. In the 1940's and 1950's, on
their many adventures, the Mitchells began collecting American paintings.
They went on some wonderful trips, African safaris and to the interior of South America,
and what they did.., where they actually made some pretty dangerous trips. But they were
an adventuresome couple. And then they went to Switzerland to ski and they sort of had
a wonderful life. In the late 60's, or in the middle 60's, they
decided they wanted to have a museum to house their permanent collection. They had no children,
and so they have left us this legacy of their exquisite permanent collection.
(Narrator) But the Mitchell's were never able to see their museum. Eleanor died in 1971
and John died right before groundbreaking. In November of 1973, the Cedarhurst Center
for the Arts opened for residents of southern Illinois and visitors from around the globe
to come and enjoy the arts. They collected hundreds of objects during
their lifetime, but the core of their collection, or the most interesting objects in their collection
today, are the group of American paintings, works by Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent,
Childe Hassam. And there are probably upward of 30 to 35 of those major works by the signature
figures of early American modern art history. (Narrator) About 440 paintings are in the
Mitchellsí permanent collection. And one of the most significant works is the George
Bellows, called "Mrs. T. in Wine Silk." That painting has appeared in virtually every
Bellows retrospective since the artist died prematurely in the 1920's. It is a very ambitious
work. It is a large painting. And it also sort of exquisitely quirky.
(Narrator) The Center holds not only the Mitchells' signature collection of American paintings,
but also offers many other unique experiences. We also have concerts in here, a chamber music
series that is now in its 28th season. We have 6 or 7 concerts a year for that. We have
School of Performing Arts programs, probably nine or ten a year. We have dinner theater.
We are not just about paintings. We do video. We do new media. We do ceramics. We do glass.
We have a variety of things. No medium is really off limits to us.
We do at least a half a dozen shows every year in this space, the main gallery of the
Mitchell Museum. So exhibitions are rotating through here really almost every couple of
months. We do another half dozen shows a year in our Children's Gallery, really fun exhibitions
like the Ken Stark Show we have right now, which is a project called Orphan Train. Which
is a group of paintings that were used as illustrations for a book called "The Orphan
Train." Narrator)
The exhibit on display the day we visited Cedarhurst was called Beyond The Hudson River.
The thirty paintings on display came from Kreft Royal fine Art New York, a commercial
dealer in New York City that holds one of the finest galleries today of American paintings.
The Hudson River School basically spans the years from about 1825 to 1875. And it is important
because it was America's first native born tradition in the visual arts. Remember, America
is very much about the land, and these painters were wonderful, wonderful landscape painters.
And to a great degree, they were responsible for introducing the nation to its own great
country, to its own destiny in a sense, and to the marvel of its own potential.
(Narrator) One of the most popular exhibits is the Sculpture Park. The park sits on 90
acres of serene beauty and features many contemporary artists' works.
They range from very beautifully fabricated metal objects to these sort of monolithic
monstrous stones that have been carved into exciting abstract forms. And it is a variety
of interesting, interesting artists who are participating in our program here. We own
maybe half of the works in the park. The other are here on loan and rotate in and out every
couple of years. So the park never quite looks the same way on any two visits.
(Narrator) This world renown Sculpture Park has as many as 50 to 60 works on display at
a time. One of the most popular sculptures is called "The Dancers" by artist Martha Ensman.
"The Dancers," on the lake, are particularly unique. There are not that many floating sculptures
in the country. But we always tell this little story when people come. That there is a male
and a female. And he has this lasso up here. And he is trying to catch here, because she
floats by him all the time. But as far as I can tell, he has never gotten a hold of
her. It is so calm and peaceful to just sit there.
And it is a great place to eat your lunch on the bench, just to sit there and watch
that. A few years ago we were chosen to be on the
front of a guide to sculpture parks and gardens of America. And we have been very fortune,
because that has actually brought us some notoriety.
It is a very popular destination for travelers across the country. We get lots and lots of
visitors who come simply to see this, the sculpture that is in this park, and to walk
the absolutely gorgeous grounds that they appear in.
(Narrator) With over 50,000 visitors annually, Cedarhurst is always offering new art collections
and exhibits on display for visitors to enjoy. People feel that if they do not know anything
about art they should not go. And in fact, it is just quite the opposite. If you come,
you may learn something about art, but you do not have to. There is no requirement. We
do not do any testing on the way out. We like people to come and enjoy it and just have
the experience of viewing it. Having art in your life, whether it be music,
theater or the visual arts such as we have here, opens up a new avenue for thinking,
for getting those creative juices going. (Narrator) Admission to the Cedarhurst Center
for the Arts is free, and they are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.,
and on Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. If youíd like to purchase a copy of any Heartland
Highways program contact us at 1-877-727-9348 during regular business hours. You can also
visit our online store at www.weiu.net or mail in your order with payment to the address
on your screen. DVDís are available for $25 each. Visa, MasterCard, discover or American
Express are accepted. Just let us know what show youíre interested in by mentioning the
story name or person featured in the show. Well that concludes our museum tour for this
week and remember if thereís a unique museum in your area, be sure to check it out. Sounds good. Weíll see you next time.