The Illinois Odd Fellows Museum is located at the Grand Lodge 845 Wyatt Ave, Lincoln, IL, 62656. It is open to the public Monday-Friday, 8am-12pm, 1pm-4pm.
The Museum-Library Committee was organized March 27, 1971. The committee consisted of five brothers and two sisters. Now it consists of four brothers and three sisters, appointed by the Grand Master. The Museum was started by seven people who knew nothing about starting a Museum, but were willing to try. Each one talked about the new project in their own areas and started gathering articles of interest to all members of the Order. The items increased more and more until we had to put everything in a store room. In October 1972 we received our first display cabinets, through the donations we had received. The committee was happy and proud to display many items in these cabinets in a small room on the second floor of the gymnasium building at the Children’s Home in Lincoln.
On August 4, 1974 the Museum moved down to the new all purpose room in the basement of the gymnasium building. Then our work really began, cleaning pictures, and frames, putting up peg boards, so we could display the pictures. At last we felt we were accomplishing something that everyone could come and see. Again through the donations we received from the Brothers and Sisters, Lodges and Districts we were able to obtain two more display cabinets. The Sons and Daughters Organization of our Children’s Home asked if they could join in this worthy project. We told them they were welcome and they have purchased four display cabinets.
In 1998 when Phil Barnett took office as Grand Master he appointed me to the Museum Committee, stating that he wanted this to be a working committee again. I told him I would do my best, and this is when the work began.
In the mean time they had moved all the treasurers from that 1 room to the back room behind the gym. In June 1988 the Curfmans and Jones began working taking the pictures off of the bars of the windows, where the bright sun had faded them. We acquired a room in the basement for storage and a work place. Our goal was to be ready for an open house in June 1999 during the biannual picnic, and we were. Of course no one got to see the Museum because it was locked up, and there were no activities going on it was closed.
Then plans were made to build a new Grand Lodge office and the Museum would have a new home. Grand Master, Dick Jones appointed a committee to oversee the plans. In July 2005 the Museum was closed to start packing for our move. This took sometime, we were so careful with our treasurers not to break anything. The new building was started in June 2005, in September 2005 we were ready to move. As we arranged everything, we were finally ready with the grand opening and dedication on June 3, 2006. Everyone that visits our Museum states it is the best throughout the United States. Thanks to all that have served and have worked so hard to make it what it is today.
The Museum Committee 2016: Linda Jones, chairman, Janet Brooks, Judy Sarnes, Greg Worrell, Wendell Brooks, Dick Jones.