Museum Exhibit Turns Up Volume For Illinois Musicians

From blues to hip hop to rock, artists from Illinois have left an indelible mark across several music genres.

Their influence is celebrated as part of The State of Sound, an exhibit at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.

Rob Carroll photo

The museum’s $15 admission gets you into all exhibits including The State of Sound where you get an opportunity to explore Illinois artists by genre.

Attendees are provided headphones before entering the exhibit to plug into one of the many listening kiosks. Music samples, videos and brief artist descriptions are available at each stop.

Rob Carroll photo

While the video kiosks are fairly basic when it comes to artist info, the most interesting parts of the exhibit are the memorabilia, instruments and other artifacts tracing the music history of the Land of Lincoln.

If you attend the exhibit, which runs through Jan. 23, take a moment to read the description of each item. That’s where The State of Sound shines.

For example, one case looked like some fairly mundane photos of the late John Prine along with an assortment of random objects including a Jughead comic and a pocket knife.

Look closer and you’ll learn these were items Prine kept nearby while onstage as a way to provide comfort when performing in front of large crowds.

Rob Carroll photo

Many of the items on display came from the artists’ personal collections. That includes outfits from Chicago rapper Common and a uniquely shaped guitar from Rockford’s Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick.

Rob Carroll photo

While you’ll likely come up with a list of notable Illinois music acts that aren’t represented in The State of Sound (Evanston native and Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder and Rockford’s Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child to name two), there are enough genres and artists celebrated to show the state’s wide influence.

Rob Carroll photo

The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For information, visit PresidentLincoln.Illinois.gov

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