From public libraries to university museums, Champaign-Urbana is home to numerous institutions of cultural heritage.
Libraries have a long history in Champaign-Urbana, and remain a source of pride to the community. The first library in Champaign started in 1868 as a private collection, and consisted of a small collection of about 300 books and periodicals assembled on the second floor at No. 7 Main St. in Champaign. This private club of forty members eventually evolved into the state-of the-art Champaign Public Library that you see today. The Urbana Free Library was founded in 1874, and is one of the oldest public libraries in Illinois. It is also home to the Champaign County Historical Archives, an invaluable source of local historical and genealogical information. Additionally, the largest public university research library in the United States is situated directly on the Champaign-Urbana town line.
Museums have enjoyed a presence in Champaign-Urbana since 1875, when Regent Gregory established an art gallery in Old University Hall filled with plaster casts, reproductions, and prints. Today, the Krannert Art Museum maintains a collection of over 9,000 original works from artists such as Childe Hassam and Winslow Homer. Other museums in the area such as the Spurlock Museum, Chanute Air Musuem, Museum of the Grand Prairie, and the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music contribute towards establishing Champaign-Urbana as a hub of cultural activity.
The libraries, museums, and archives tour explores the histories and services of our local cultural institutions.