The museum plans to have many exciting events throughout the year. From exhibit openings to special educational events, we try to keep the community engaged in our area history.

Living Wax Legends

November 8 and 15, 2023

The Jacksonville Area Museum will come to life with special first-person portrayals of historic local residents during “Night at the Museum: Living Wax Legends” to be presented on successive Wednesdays, November 8 and 15. The November 8 presentation will be for museum members only, with the November 15 presentation intended for the general public.

“Night at the Museum” is presented by the Jacksonville Area Museum Foundation in coordination with the Jacksonville Area Museum. This new event will kick off the next phase of fundraising for the expansion of the museum.

“About ten months ago we quietly kicked off a campaign to raise the funds needed for the expansion,” said Foundation Board Chair Bob Chipman. “This event will begin the public phase of the campaign, and we will also be making some exciting announcements.”

“Night at the Museum” features an approximate 45-minute tour around the museum in which seven of the area’s “Living Wax Legends” being portrayed by local actors will come to life and share their individual stories. Local theater veteran Rich McCoy is directing the actors, who will portray African American postal carrier Eugene Hayden, Hollywood composer Frank Skinner, professional deaf baseball star Luther “Dummy” Taylor, Morgan County pioneer and midwife Catherine Kendall “Mother” Carson, artist Nellie Knopf, globe-trotting journalist William Walton, and a young Capitol Records employee who attended the 1965 “Lettermen” concert in town.

Artifacts from the museum’s collection that have never before been publicly displayed will be on exhibit. A model of the museum’s planned expansion will also be on display so attendees can get an idea of the growth ahead for Jacksonville’s newest cultural experience. Light refreshments will be served.

“Night at the Museum: Living Wax Legends” will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. each evening with six small groups of 10-12 people able to tour each hour. Museum members are being notified how to purchase their tickets for the November 8 event. Tickets for the November 15 public event are limited and can be purchased at the museum, at both Farmers State Bank locations, and at the Jacksonville Convention and Visitors Bureau. The cost is $20 per person.

Dominican Sisters of Springfield

Limited Time! April 1 thru July 31, 2023

A temporary exhibit highlighting the 150-year history of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, including their beginnings in Jacksonville, opens on Saturday, April 1 at the Jacksonville Area Museum in downtown Jacksonville. The exhibit may be seen through July 31, 2023.

“Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois: Celebrating 150 years for the Life of the World” consists of six exhibit panels and a case of artifacts including historic photographs, publications, medallions, and dolls attired as Dominican Sisters during periods of their century-and-a-half history. The exhibit was developed by the Dominican Sisters and installed by the Sisters and the Jacksonville Area Museum. The Dominican Sisters exhibit may be viewed during the museum’s regular hours of operation on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Two J. Capps and Sons Events on Nov 16, 2022

November 16, 2022, 4 pm – 6 pm

“J. Capps & Sons Indian Trade Blankets, Buffalo Bill Cody and Really Nice Threads” will be presented in the Jacksonville Area Museum’s west gallery at 5 p.m. on November 16 by Donna Cody and Terry Maggart. Cody researched the Capps Indian Trade Blankets and the connection between Buffalo Bill Cody and J. Capps & Sons for a program she presented to the Household Science Club. She will share the information she gleaned and will have examples of the blankets. Maggart, who worked at J. Capps & Sons in the mid-1970s and was there when the company closed after more than 130 years, will talk about the specific techniques of J. Capps & Sons suit construction and the impact the popularization of polyester fabrics had on the company. The presentation will last about 30 minutes.

“Spools of Fun” ornament-making will also be held at the museum on Wednesday, November 16 from 4 to 6 p.m. The museum’s 2022 Christmas Tree will have a sewing theme in honor of the museum’s J. Capps & Sons exhibit that opened earlier this year. Spools of Fun participants will make ornaments for the tree using wood thread spools. The event is designed for people of all ages, adults and children, crafty or not. All supplies will be provided. The only thing participants need to bring is creativity, and they may stay for a few minutes or the entire two hours.

Exhibit Opening
Nice Threads! The History of J Capps & Sons, Ltd

July 16, 2022, 10 am – 4 pm

Come enjoy the new exhibit about the history of J Capps and Sons, one of Jacksonville’s first industries. This business started as a wool carding operation, then became a manufacturer of fine men’s clothing, military uniforms, and blankets. The exhibit opens July 16, and has an open-ended run.

Members Only Tour of Capps Facility

July 13, 2022, 5 pm

Museum members are invited to attend a exterior walking tour of the Capps manufacturing facility. Historian Greg Olson and former employee Terry Maggart will offer a glimpse into the operations of the buildings and site, and give a glimpse into the history of the campus. Afterwards, members are invited to a preview, ribbon cutting, and reception of the new exhibit “Nice Threads!” at the Jacksonville Area Museum. Not a member? Join today!

MacMurray ‘MacFam’ Gathering

Saturday, June 18, 2022, 9 am – 3 pm

As part of the MacMurray Homecoming, MacMurray Hall of Jacksonville Area Museum open for the Mac alumni, and also to the public. This will include special showings of items not on general display.

Mother’s Day at the Museum

Sunday, May 8, 2022, 10 am – 4 pm

Looking for an activity on Mothers Day? Bring your mom to the Jacksonville Area Museum!

After treating your mom to a great Mother’s Day brunch, head down to the Jacksonville Area Museum. Just in time for Mother’s Day, we’ve expanded our display on ‘Mother Carson,’ one of the founders of Morgan County. She was an early midwife that helped deliver thousands of babies in our area in the earliest days of Jacksonville. We have her birthing book on display, showcasing the many babies she assisted with during her career as a midwife and tavern keeper.

Central Park Market at the Museum

Thursday, May 5, 2022, 4 pm – 8pm

Visit the Museum During the NEW Central Park Market on Thursday! And Taste-Test some locally inspired treats!

To coordinate with the Central Park Market and the Jacksonville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Business After Hours, the Jacksonville Area Museum will be open special hours, 4-8 pm, Thursday, May 5.

In addition to viewing this new favorite local site visitors to the museum will get to taste history. Discovered In a recent gift of Mrs. Tucker’s items to the museum were recipes for some tasty treats. A couple of museum board members have whipped up those bakery sweets for Thursday visitors and for the kids there will be lots of outdoor games, weather permitting.

Add the museum to your list of stops Thursday evening and make a night of it in Downtown Jacksonville!

Learn more about the NEW Central Park Market at

Author Sarah Angleton to Appear at Museum

Saturday, April 30, 2022, 10 am

historical fiction author Sarah Angleton will appear at the Jacksonville Area Museum on Saturday, April 30 at 10 a.m. for a presentation and book signing. The new book includes one of the founders of the MacMurray College, Peter Akers. The event is free and open to the public, and no advance reservations are required.

Angleton’s White Man’s Graveyard is about the issue of removing freed slaves from the United States to Liberia in the mid-1800s. The book’s two main characters, siblings Annie and Sylvanus, were real people and Angleton’s ancestors. Sylvanus was a missionary physician with the Methodist Episcopal Church who went to Liberia to serve the freed Blacks who were establishing a colony there. But it was his sister Annie who had the Jacksonville connections.

“Annie married Reverend Peter Akers, the circuit rider who prophesied in 1837 at a camp meeting that slavery would soon end and that one who was in the crowd that day may have an important role to play,” Angleton said. “A young Illinois lawyer named Abraham Lincoln was there that day and was listening.”

Akers was a founder of the Illinois Conference Female Academy, established in 1846, that was the forerunner of MacMurray College. Angleton did key research at MacMurray College for Akers’ role in her book. The material that Angleton used for her research is now part of the MacMurray College Foundation and Alumni Association collection at the Jacksonville Area Museum.

Angleton’s other books include Gentleman of Misfortune, a tale of scoundrels, mummies, and the Joseph Smith Papyri; Smoke Rose to Heaven, a tale of fanaticism, treachery, and the Spalding Enigma; and Launching Sheep & Other Stories from the Intersection of History and Nonsense, a humorous look at history from the perspective of modern-day family life.

Visit for more information.

Holiday Open House

December 18, 2022, 10 am – 2 pm.

Dress up the kids and stop by the Jacksonville Area Museum for a family-friendly Holiday Open House from 10 am – 2 pm. Santa will be available for a quick hello, as well as some kid-friendly activities to help explore the museum.

Smithsonian Curator, Dr. Claire Jerry, Presenting Program

Saturday, November 20, 6:30 pm

Join the museum in welcoming Dr. Claire Jerry, Curator of Political History at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, as she helps welcome our new exhibit ‘Voices and Votes.’

Dr. Jerry will be presenting a special program at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, November 20 at Hamilton’s Banquet Hall, 110 North East (directly across the street from the museum). The presentation, entitled “The National is Local is National,” is free and open to the public.

The Smithsonian Museum on Main Street’s “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America” exhibit opens on Saturday, November 20 at the Jacksonville Area Museum. The traveling exhibit may be seen during the museum’s regular hours of operation of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday through December 22.

The “Voices and Votes” exhibit at the Jacksonville Area Museum is made possible by support from Illinois Humanities and Museum on Main Street.