The exhibit runs nearly every day from 10 to 4 until April 6 , closing only on Easter Sunday. From left to right: Pontiac City Council member Donovan Gardner, Pontiac Mayor Bob Russell, City Council member Kelly Eckhoff, and Pontiac Tourism director Ellie Alexander. In back: Robert Roarty of Pontiac Tourism. (Photo by Todd Wineburner/WJEZ)
By Todd Wineburner
A highly anticipated historic display from the Smithsonian is open for visitors in Pontiac.
Pontiac Mayor Bob Russell says “Journey Stories”—the Smithsonian exhibit now on display—is an ideal presentation of historical information in a historically significant and newly-restored building. He says many county residents still haven’t seen the restored courthouse, and it’s the perfect venue for the display.
During Saturday’s opening, Pontiac City Council member Kelly Eckhoff was recognized for having secured much of the sponsorship that funded the display, including the portion that deals with Livingston County specifically. Tourism director Ellie Alexander says the exhibit will be open from 10 to 4 daily for tours that are largely self-guided, but volunteers will be on hand as well.
“Journey Stories” is made possible by the Smithsonian in conjunction with the Illinois Humanities Council. To host the exhibit, the Smithsonian requires communities to enhance the display with a display of their own that focuses on local history. In Pontiac, that portion of the project was supervised by Robert Roarty of Pontiac’s tourism office. Roarty says Jesse Fell and others pioneers are mentioned prominently in the local display.
As the entire installation is about travel, he says it’s only natural that a section be devoted to Route 66 and some of the businesses the mother road created. Diaz Sign Art created the panels that make up the Livingston County section. He says the biggest challenge was taking photographs from a very different time periods and combining them into a cohesive presentation. Diaz admits that many photos went unused, and he hopes they can be presented in future projects.
The exhibit runs nearly every day from 10 to 4 until April 6th , closing only on Easter Sunday. The exhibit is found in the county board’s meeting room in the old courthouse in downtown Pontiac.