Belleville Labor & Industry Museum set to re-open May 8

THE LABOR & INDUSTRY MUSEUM is located on Church Street just north of downtown Belleville. – Labor Tribune photo

Belleville, IL – One of the Metro-East’s little-known treasures, the Belleville Labor & Industry Museum, will re-open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays beginning May 8.

Museum board member Bill Thurston said the COVID-19 spread put the museum down like a lot of local institutions, but it’s time to bring it back to life – with a limit of six visitors at a time.

“After serious consideration, the Board of Directors of the Labor and Industry Museum has decided to reopen for visits,” he said. “The museum visits will be governed by the rules and regulations set forth by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Proper facemasks and proper spacing of visitors are mandatory, and hand sanitizer will be available to visitors.”

The museum will also be open and participating in the annual city-wide Museum Day, to be held Saturday, June 5 with the museum open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as usual, Thurston said.

MUSEUM VOLUNTEER Pat Schmeder (at left) leads a tour at the museum in 2018. The Labor & Industry Museum is the only public institution devoted to the history of the Labor and industry of Belleville and southwestern Illinois. Belleville was one of the most significant centers for the growth of Illinois industry, ranking third in the nation in the late 19th century and establishing some of the earliest and largest manufacturers in the United States. The Museum’s mission is to chronicle and interpret the area’s rich cultural heritage of Labor and industry. – Labor Tribune file photo

Located at 123 Church St. in downtown Belleville, the museum is always free and has high-quality displays such as:

  • STOVES – The museum features Belleville’s long history of stove-making, with some 30 on display in the Industrial Hall.
  • JUMBO – The 19th-century steam engine “Jumbo” was built in 1895 at Harrison Machine Works in Belleville, and the museum acquired it from Henry Ford Museum.
  • IN PRINT – Newshounds will enjoy seeing the typesetting equipment from the many newspapers published in Belleville in many languages over the years.
  • UNION HALL – This is a reference library of documents and books about the Labor Movement. It has more than 10,000 photographs and 2,500 historic documents.
  • INDUSTRIES – Industries featured in exhibits include casting, machining, glass making, brewing, brick making and stencil making.

The museum is hosted by local experts, including some who worked in the industries and were members of the unions.

Visitors to the museum must bring their own masks, Thurston said. To arrange visits outside the regular hours, call (618) 222-9430. Also, check the website at


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