Collections and Exhibitions


The Wilber Mansion, circa 1995

Before the Champaign County History Museum (CCHM) moved into its current location at the historic Cattle Bank in 2001, it was located in the Wilber Mansion from December 1974 until 1996. The mansion was built by prominent Champaign residents Robert and Elizabeth Wilber in 1903. It housed the Wilbers and other prominent families until the CCHM’s purchase of the mansion with the goal of encouraging continuing study of the local history, people, and culture of Champaign County through the collection, organization, preservation, and display of artifacts relative to county heritage.


Sweet and Cool summer accessories exhibition, 1990

At approximately 6,000 square feet, the museum was able to exhibit both permanent and rotating exhibitions while housing a collection of up to 10,000 objects. Around 3,000 of these square feet were not open to the public, instead used for offices and to house the museum’s extensive collection. The collection included live plants, ceramics, film and sound recordings, furniture and sculpture, photographic materials, library and archival materials, and textiles.

Around 30% of the museum’s artifacts were on display at any given time, utilizing the approximately 2,000 square feet dedicated to exhibition space. Rotating exhibits, which were located on the second floor, covered a variety of topics relevant to local history, including traditions of the Fighting Illini, business and banking in Champaign-Urbana, and historic clothing.


A Penny Saved exhibition brochure, 1990

The museum also offered tours for children’s groups and schools, as well as special offerings for adults like lecture series, workshops, and tours. The museum further hosted annual fundraisers for adults: the Sunshine Dinner Theater Benefit; Clue Night: The Wilber Mansion Mystery; and Taste of Champaign-Urbana.

In the early 1970s, the CCHM also established a Historic Preservation Revolving Fund, which would promote the restoration, renovation, and preservation of local buildings. The establishment of this fund may have been inspired by the museum’s experience managing common issues related to the ownership of a historic building, such as leaks and brick deterioration.

Ultimately, in 1996, the CCHM decided to move from the Wilber Mansion in an effort to gain more space and better exhibit facilities.


The Wilber Mansion on moving day, April 1997

Collections and Exhibitions