Photographs courtesy of Claire Starling


The recent grand opening of the Sangamon Experience at UIS marked a new and exciting campus exhibit for students. The opening ceremony began with a musical performance of “Corn to Shuck” from Tom Irwin’s Sangamon Songs, followed by a touching speech from Chancellor Koch. In her speech, she noted that this experience could not have occurred without a generous donation from an anonymous donor, and she recognized the members of the UIS and Sangamon County community who came out to support the opening.

A grand total of 325 people registered for the event, and even more showed up for the ceremony to get a glimpse at the exhibit. Lead Professor Dr. Devin Hunter and Bill Furry from the Illinois State Historical Society both gave speeches. Dr. Hunter discussed the timeline of the envisioned project and emphasized the fact that their mission was a collaborative one at its core. He informed the audience that some aspects of the exhibit were unfinished, including four upcoming displays still to be produced. Three of these will display history spanning from 1861 to the present, and the fourth is from UIS graduate student Tyler Vonnahmen regarding union conflict between the United Mine Workers of America and the Progressive Miners of America. While the exhibit isn’t entirely finished as of now, there is no shortage of insightful and interesting historical information available currently.

The ceremony ended with a much-anticipated ribbon cutting and signaled the opening of the exhibit to the community. The exhibit was warmly received by those in attendance and proved to be a great addition to the UIS campus and academic environment. Sangamon Experience will be a permanent and ever evolving exhibit here at UIS so if you didn’t have the chance to come to the opening ceremony, visit as soon as you can.