About Illinois State Museum's At Home in the Heartland ExhibitAT HOME IN THE HEARTLAND is a state-of-the-art exhibit that uses the ISM's extensive decorative arts collections and research gathered throughout Illinois to explore the history of family life in the state over the past three centuries.
Visitors are given a vivid glimpse of the lives of Illinois residents past and present. Six interactive "video stations" feature touch-screen computers that introduce visitors to persons facing tough life choices. For example, the observer takes on the role of a Jesuit priest in 1763, pondering whether to defy the French government by continuing to preach among the Indians; and that of an 18l2 Yankee immigrant to Illinois, wrestling with her conscience about purchasing slaves; and that of an 83-year-old woman considering moving from her family home in 1987. The observer may then compare his or her choices with those actually made by the individuals depicted.
In addition, choices on how to decorate and equip a home are presented on reading rails with sliding labels in front of the main displays. The main displays themselves feature a broad range of settings including: a log cabin, a Victorian parlor, a department-store window, a 1940s kitchen, and a 1990s teenager's room. The ways resources are used at home are explored in the exhibit labeling, as are the cultural meanings of the objects on display. Each of the exhibit's six chronological sections includes both side-by-side panels that invite cultural comparisons, and "clues to the past" panels that highlight historical sources.
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