PEORIA — From Lego bricks to Renaissance inventors to surgical tools, next year will be the “Year of Invention” at the Peoria Riverfront Museum, the facility’s president and CEO said earlier this week.
The theme for 2019 will “inspire entrepreneurial activity and innovation,” John Morris told an audience of board members, major donors and supporters in the museum’s Giant Screen Theater.
The event, held to mark the fifth full fiscal year of operations for the museum — which has been open since October 2012 — and bid adieu to the final members of the board who had been there since the doors opened, served as an informal preview of upcoming exhibitions.
A dual exhibition from early February to late April will focus on “10 medical inventions that changed the world,” Morris said, promising a multidisciplinary approach and programs held in conjunction with the Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center, local hospitals and schools.
Also on display will be a wider presentation of what Morris called a dominant form of Midwest innovation in the museum’s collection of duck decoys.
The family-oriented summer exhibition running from late May through the start of September will be “the biggest Lego art exhibition on the planet,” Morris said.
When “The Art of the Brick,” was on display in Portland, Ore., Morris says it was a show that “broke all records.”
A brief exhibition of French posters from a local collector will follow.
And in mid-November through March 2020, the museum will play host to what Morris described as the “leading Leonardo DaVinci” exhibition, featuring the “most authentic reproduction of the Mona Lisa ever made,” as well as information on some of the artist’s inventions.
This all follows an exhibition in the fall and winter of this year on bronze sculpture, during which the museum will display its sculpture by Rodin usually held in storage, and another fall exhibition featuring a display of Tiffany lamps owned by a local collector, curator Bill Conger said.
In addition, members of the board and other major donors and supporters were told that more than 17,000 schoolkids — nearly 8,000 of them from Peoria Public Schools — came through the doors of the museum in the last school year.
That number, more than quadruple what it was the year before, is because of the growth of the facility’s “Every Student Initiative,” which aims, through donations, to bring students in from throughout the area.
Each student in kindergarten through eighth grade in Peoria Public Schools came through during the 2017-18 year, Vice President of Programs Renae Kerrigan said.
Meanwhile, the museum continues to edge closer to hitting 1 million visitors. As of Tuesday evening, the facility had brought in 995,721 people since its opening, according to figures provided by museum officials.
New officers were also named for the museum board. Katie McCord Jenkins, CEO at Illinois Mutual, is board chairwoman. Steve Jackson, CEO at Prairie Home Alliance, is board vice chairman. Brian Ray, regional president at PNC, is board treasurer. And Lisa Gates, assistant vice president of marketing and communications at RLI Corp. is board secretary.