GILLESPIE coal museum

121 S. Macoupin Street
TEXT: 833-228-8603
HOURS: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The Illinois Coal Museum is the product of an outstanding collaboration between two local men: James Alderson (who donated his large collection) and Dave Tucker (innovative Curator and Chairman of the museum’s Board of Directors – seen below). The museum has four principal themes with exhibitions and photographs: (1) the natural history of coal, (2) the union history of coal mining in Gillespie where the Progressives and its Women’s Auxiliary were founded and with reference to other Macoupin County coal towns and including a new display comparing central Illinois to the County Durham coalfields in northeast England, (3) the lives of miners with emphasis on their equipment and safety measures, and (4) Gillespie itself as a coal town. A remarkable new exhibit is reconstructed a coal tunnel, which one can walk through and get a sense of what the underground experience was like. The museum has a small sale area with a selection of relevant books, mugs, pins, etc. The museum’s use of the building’s industrial architecture adds to the exhibition script. The museum also has a large seminar room. This museum is well worth a visit.

Curator Dave Tucker

Professor Helaine Silverman on the video screen, discussing labor history in Gillespie.

Miners’ personal equipment

Here you see the process of installation of banners representing the labor history of Gillespie (UMWA Local 1513), Macoupin County as well as the comparison with County Durham in England. We show you the paper printouts and how they have been converted to vinyl and are being hung in the labor section of the museum.