Belleville – Oct. 25, 2014, may seem like a long way off during these cold winter days, but it’s coming soon enough for the Belleville Labor & Industry Museum.
That’s the “firm date” museum leaders have set for the grand opening of its new annex, which will about double the museum’s size, show what an old-time factory looked like and allow for new displays.
“We’re going to be open, and we’re going to have some hoopla,” said Bill Thurston, president of the museum board and also president of the Southwestern Illinois Central Labor Council.
The low-budget museum has stayed out of debt while building the annex by relying on donated work from local unions – when workers get a chance to do it.
“We’re waiting to get the insulation up and the wallboard, and then we’ll be ready to paint,” Thurston said. “We’ve got it all bought. We just need the manpower.”
The museum is housed in an historic downtown commercial building that dates back to 1837. The museum was formed in 1998, helping to keep the site from becoming a parking lot. It has since developed displays and become a research center. It is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays or by appointment.
It features items manufactured in Belleville over the years, such as gas stoves, stencil machines, steam engines and much more.
The museum board has been working on the annex for about four years. It was designed by architect Randy Mitchell to look like an 1800s factory.
To donate to the museum, send a check to Belleville Labor & Industry Museum, 123 N. Church St., Belleville IL 62220 or go to its website, laborindustrymuseum.org. To arrange a tour, call 618-222-9430.