Spurlock Museum: Where History Meets My Indifference

Spurlock Museum

So there I was, at the Spurlock Museum, 600 S. Gregory St. Urbana, IL. Why? Good question. Perhaps to find out if history could finally capture my fleeting attention or maybe just to escape the rain. Spoiler alert: the rain was more interesting.

About the Museum

Quickly now, the museum, originally parked on the 4th floor of Lincoln Hall like an afterthought, blossomed into the World Heritage Museum in 1971 before finally sprawling into its current form in 2002, boasting a lavish 55,000 square feet of space dedicated to things old, ancient, or otherwise dusty.

It’s been accredited, which is a big deal in the museum world, kind of like a chef getting a Michelin star, but for showcasing artifacts rather than making edible art. Holding over 50,000 artifacts that testify to human activity (or inactivity), from spearheads to shards that might’ve been someone’s dinner plate, the museum draws in over 50,000 visitors a year.

Among them, 12,000 school children are dragged through its doors annually for organized programs and tours, likely pondering what they did in a past life to deserve this.

Collaborating with universities and museums across the globe, Spurlock continues its mission to educate, or at least occupy, the masses with the echoes of history, proving that yes, everything has a story, even if it’s one you’d rather not hear.

First Impressions

Walking in, the first thing that hit me – besides the realization that I could’ve been home watching paint dry – was the schedule. With hours all over the place from Tuesday to Sunday, it’s like they’re daring you to find a better way to spend your day. Challenge accepted, but later.

The entrance itself was as welcoming as a tax office, with the warmth of a dentist’s waiting room. I half expected to be handed a number and told to wait until my indifference was called. The schedule felt like a puzzle designed by someone who really didn’t want visitors to solve it.

The Exhibits Were a Mixed Bag of Yawns and Shrugs

Spurlock Museum

The museum is a maze of permanent and temporary exhibits. They’ve got everything from film series to musical performances. Sounds exciting, right? Well, if your idea of a good time involves watching ancient pottery and discussing the deep implications of civil rights in a room colder than my ex’s heart, then sure.

It’s as if they tried to cram every possible era into one space, hoping at least one would stick. The variety is commendable, but the execution feels like throwing darts blindfolded – you might hit something worthwhile, but it’s mostly going to be wall. Each exhibit whispers, “history is alive,” but in a tone that suggests it’s barely got a pulse.

The Educational Attempt – Noble but Futile

They offer educational resources for educators and UIUC faculty, complete with financial assistance and lesson plans. It’s cute how they think lesson plans could make history more digestible for someone who considers watching historical documentaries a form of torture.

These offerings are like those healthy snacks disguised as junk food; you can tell what they’re trying to do, but you’re not fooled. The museum seems to hold a torch for the notion that anyone wandering in might find their inner historian, a torch that quickly dims when you realize you’d rather watch historical battles on YouTube.

They stand on the front lines of educational warfare, armed with nothing but optimism and PowerPoint presentations.

Collections that Almost Caught My Interest

Collections Spurlock Museum

  • Coins from Turkey: I guess money does make the world go round, even if it’s ancient and unusable. It’s a collection that screams, “we used to have value!” Now, they just sit there, out of circulation and context, much like my motivation to be here.
  • Maps of Asia: Because Google Maps clearly isn’t cutting it. It’s fascinating to see how people used to navigate without digital assistance, relying on these maps that are as accurate as my understanding of quantum physics.
  • Robes and Sherds: For when you want to dress up and drink from pottery that’s seen better days. These items feel like the leftovers of history, the bits that didn’t make it into the main narrative but still got a participation trophy.

The Highlight – Ancient Mediterranean Exhibit


Pogledajte ovu objavu na Instagramu.


Objavu dijeli Spurlock Museum (@spurlockmuseum)

The “Ancient Mediterranean: The Dawn of the Individual” was supposed to be the showstopper. It talks about how individuals began to matter more than the collective. Fascinating if you’re into that sort of thing, which I’m not.

But hey, it’s comforting to know that the concept of individual importance started somewhere, and now we can all ignore each other on our phones with historical backing. It’s an exhibit that tries so hard to be relevant, that it almost becomes endearing. Almost. It left me pondering if my indifference is a direct legacy of those ancient experiments in democracy.

Opportunities for Donations

There are no admission fees, which, I admit, is a good thing. However, you can donate financially or give them some old thing you found in your attic. They also have a newsletter, in case you want reminders of your visit delivered straight to your inbox. How thoughtful. It’s like they’re saying, “Remember that time you didn’t enjoy? Let’s relive it monthly!”

The option to donate objects is intriguing, though. It made me wonder if they’d accept my high school trophies as artifacts of millennial achievement. The newsletter, presumably, is filled with tales of new acquisitions and upcoming events that promise to be as thrilling as watching water boil – on a low simmer.


Can I Volunteer at The Spurlock Museum, and What Might I Do?

Yes, the Spurlock Museum warmly welcomes volunteers! Your role could range from guiding awe-struck visitors through the labyrinth of history in the exhibits to assisting in the less glamorous but equally thrilling task of cataloging ancient knick-knacks. 

Are Pets Allowed in The Museum, Specifically My Cat Who Enjoys Ancient Egyptian Culture?

The Spurlock Museum unfortunately does not allow pets within its hallowed halls. Service animals, however, are an exception. They can enjoy the splendor of ancient civilizations alongside their humans. 

Is Photography Allowed Inside the Museum, or Must I Commit Everything to Memory?

Photography is indeed allowed but with a few caveats. Flash photography is a no-go, as it might disturb the eternal slumber of the artifacts. So, feel free to snap away, but make sure to do so respectfully and without flash. Selfies with a 3000-year-old vase? Absolutely, but let’s not blind it with modern technology. 

Wrapping Things up – Would I Recommend It?

After wandering the halls, staring at items whose significance was lost on me, and pretending to read the descriptions, I emerged… unchanged. The Spurlock Museum tried its best to make history appealing to someone who views past events as just that: things that have already happened.

So, would I recommend a visit to the Spurlock Museum? If you’re someone who finds joy in the old, the ancient, or the historically significant, absolutely. But if you’re like me, maybe just wait for the movie. It’s less walking.

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