Our Front Porch is a new exhibit area that came out of a conversation. As we were thinking about ways to engage visitors to the museum, it was one of those, “wouldn’t it be nice to…” moments that started a ball rolling. In a time of dramatic change in how people get information, learn and want to spend their free time, the goal was to create a place for a shared experience around who we are as a community. Local history is very much about celebrating who we are by looking at what we’ve done -together. The front porch has long been the informal place for this tradition.
So the question was, “why not build a front porch inside a museum?” The answered came strong and clear with a number of people contributing funds, skills, time and effort. As a director of a museum, there are many rewards but none more satisfying than watching a multi-generational group share skills, ideas, time, and laughs to create something to benefit the community. Our Front Porch has proven to be a creative way for our museum to nurture our local history and culture.
Our Front Porch was built by an all-volunteer team. The museums strategic planning team of John Gruidl, Jeff Kellogg and Bob Marcott worked out details of how this gathering space could work to further the museum’s mission. When I told Jeff Holtz about the idea, he was enthusiastic and generously offered financial support which helped us realize the project was worth pursuing. Jack Nixa at West Side Lumber stretched that contribution to cover materials. The construction was provided by Jim Lantz, Bob, Dick and Joe Marcott, along with Richard Chamberlain, Jeff Moore, Michael Thompson, and Paul Trimmer. My dad, Bob Scott, helped make the hand railings, giving them a nice finishing touch. Allen Nemec offered architectural elements to give the porch “the look” while Brenda Sayres scoured local antique shops to find things to enhance the porch. We share the building with the Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the McDonough County Genealogical Society who were supportive of the changes that would affect the common areas of the building. I am grateful for everyone’s willingness to think outside the box and work together.
We hope you’ll come sit-a-spell on Our Front Porch and see how the world slows down. It’s a place to get to know your local history with your neighbor, listen to live music, share an experience, or join a conversation.
We’ll see you soon-
Western Illinois Museum