top of page
  • Michael L Bergonzi

A Champaign Museum Continues to Make History

Sports and art are seen as opposites, but they share a common historical thread in Champaign-Urbana. Back in 1920-40, former U of I football coach Robert Zuppke dabbled in both. His collection of art can still be found at the Champaign County History Museum.

On a similar note, the Museum extended its art exhibitions from winter of last year until June. The three current exhibits showcased works from local artists like Charles Wisseman, Joan Stolz of Parkland College, and the late Harry Breen. The festivities began in December of last year with the tribute to Breen and continued with Wisseman's work in the "Made in CU - Materials in Art" showcase, which happened in January 2023. Now, Stolz is getting her time in the spotlight with her "Skin the Game" collection.

Champaign County History Museum

According to Museum manager Connor Monson, the museum had its best year in terms of walk-in rates since the 1990s in 2022. Approximately, 1,400 people visited the history museum during this time.

But that's not their biggest number on average. "If you're counting engagements in the community," Monson says, "we have as many as 2,500 people. One example is their history talks.

History talks are events where local researchers, scholars and even journalists talk about something they've published recently that impacts the community. Recently, retired U of I journalism professor Michael Ehrlich wrote a book about academic freedom in the era of JKF's presidency. He gave a talk about it at the Champaign Public Library in December 2022.

Part of a Train Exhibit from the Champaign County History Museum

Breen and Wisseman retired in 1985 and 2005, respectively. Breen passed away in 2021. Before retiring, Wisseman worked with medicine and engineering for several organizations like the CDC and the former University of Illinois medical school. The school is now associated with Carle Hospital and has a focus on the combination of engineering and medicine. Stolz continues to teach art and design at Parkland College.

4 views0 comments
bottom of page