Photograph courtesy of Sangamon Experience

Sangamon Experience is a dynamic new exhibit coming to the UIS campus this spring. This exhibit features a 5,300 square foot interactive space celebrating the detailed history of the Sangamon area of central Illinois. The exhibition will feature four 16-foot walls that represent four eras of American history. The panels will include details about the often forgotten contributors to the historic narrative, Native Americans, slavery in Illinois, lesser known Springfield history, and the Portuguese immigrant population and their integration into the area.

There will also be an exhibit of prominent Sangamon historical figures in order to give insight into relatively unknown leaders of the area. This exhibit was a collaborative effort with various historic institutions from around the Sangamon region to promote interconnectivity between historical sites.

The opening of Sangamon Experience will take place January 30 from 3 – 5 p.m. in the lower level of the Public Affairs Center featuring several key speakers, including the Chancellor, and a ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of the exhibit. A special guest, Tom Irwin, will be present for the unveiling. Irwin created the musical known as Sangamon Songs, detailing the life of a boy whose diary he found in his ancestral home in Pleasant Plains. He will be there performing songs both before and after the ceremony.

Undergraduate research assistant and UIS student Katie Brethorst, who helped bring this grand project to fruition, hopes that students will take away from the exhibit a couple different lessons regarding the rich history of their surroundings. “There’s more history to the Sangamon region than just Abraham Lincoln, and there are a lot of unspoken stories that need to be heard. I hope that this is a beneficial asset to the campus and it sparks interest in the historical field to all that visit.”