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The Illinois State Museum's extensive collections can be seen in both permanent and rotating exhibitions. Permanent exhibitions are always available, while rotating exhibitions change every few months.

Permanent Exhibits

At Home in the Heartland

Listen to the stories of real people who lived in Illinois. Immerse yourself in the dramatic changes in household life over the past 300 years.

Changes: Dynamic Illinois Environments

At Changes visitors will see, hear, and touch Illinois’ natural history through engaging hands-on interactive displays, audio and video effects, thousands of authentic fossils, and more. Marvel at all the strange and intriguing species that once inhabited Illinois through a multitude of life-size dioramas.

The Mary Ann MacLean Play Museum

The Play Museum is a free children's area at the Illinois State Museum-Springfield. Load a jeep; crawl through a cave; dig for fossils; put together a baby mastodont puzzle; frame art; explore collections of fossils, insects, artifacts; and toys; and play museum!

Rotating Exhibits

Second Floor Gallery

This exhibit celebrates all things “kidz” from the collection of the Illinois State Museum.  Visitors will see children’s clothing, toys, and objects from the 1840s-1990s, as well as artwork featuring children.  Hands-on activity stations provide opportunities for visitors to play with magnetic “paper” dolls, try on old-fashioned clothing, and play with vintage toys.

Jaroslava Lialia Kuchma: Tapestries
Second Floor Gallery

Kuchma’s two large tapestries on exhibit are connected to her Ukrainian Identity, as well as larger global histories of sovereignty and migration. 

Wildlife Around Us
First Floor Hot Science Gallery

People have changed our landscapes, and our wildlife neighbors are affected. The Illinois State Museum’s new exhibition Wildlife Around Us, showcases the features and behaviors that help many native species live alongside humans. 

Presidential Illinois
Second Floor Gallery

Presidential Illinois highlights significant artifacts from the four US Presidents who have called Illinois home: Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama.

For the first time, the public will have the opportunity to see the furniture Obama used in his office and his chamber chair from when he served in the Illinois State Senate. The exhibition also features other noteworthy items, including a signed copy of Obama’s speech in Springfield when he declared Joseph Biden his running mate. 

Glen C. Davies: Moments of Mystery
Second Floor Gallery

Davies explores human desire and frailty through the lens of the circus sideshow. This exhibition of eleven paintings, drawings and sculpture covers a 50-year span in his career. The pieces were gifted to the Illinois State Museum by the artist and the Kohler Foundation, Inc in 2023.

Picture Consequence
Second Floor Gallery

Barbara Rossi (1940-2023) and Evelyn Statsinger (1927-2016) tested the possibilities of depicting the human form through experiments in geometry, pattern, and inventive processes. 

Statsinger and Rossi were contemporaries, separated by thirteen years of age. Both are associated with a loose grouping of artists known as the Chicago Imagists. From the 1950s through the 1980s, these artists used the figure to narrate the human condition with startling, strange images.