As part of its mission ISAS seeks to disseminate information about Illinois' rich archaeological heritage to the public and to professional communities. This effort includes giving formal public lectures and creating exhibits as well as giving talks to local school children. ISAS researchers are also active in presenting the results of their work at professional conferences and publishing numerous articles and books.

Hidden Underfoot

In Spring of 2015, ISAS collaborated with the Museum of the Grand Prairie to help curate the museum’s special exhibit. The exhibit features six historical archaeology sites including two in Champaign County, the Nine-Gal Tavern and the Brownfield Blacksmith Site. Explore history through dioramas featuring the reconstructions of four excavated structures: a pottery, a brewery, a tavern, and a home. Fred Brown built the dioramas for the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) as part of outreach efforts. All the archaeological excavations featured were funded by IDOT.

Museum of the Grand Prairie


Fred Brown Video


Naturally Illinois Expo 2015

Dr. Kim Schaffeur at the Naturally Illinois ExpoFor the past 5 years, ISAS has participated in the Prairie Research Institute’s Naturally Illinois Expo. The Expo offers the public an insight to what the Institute’s scientists and staff do every day. ISAS exhibits included a sand excavation for artifacts, flintknapping, atlatl throw, processing a deer hide, an archaeological dig zooarchaeology, and preshistoric crop plants in Illinois. ISAS staff volunteered to engage and educate the public so they could experience archaeology.



History Beneath the Airport

Chicago/Rockford International Airport
Dates: May 2009-March 2013

Chicago Rockford International Airport poster

In February 2009 ISAS was contacted by Rockford Airport authorities about creating an archaeological exhibit in the main terminal building. In conceptualizing the exhibit ISAS wanted to highlight the archaeological excavations done during the expansion of the airport in the mid 1990s.

The Shumway homesite, located at the Valhall site (11WO354), was selected as the focus of the exhibit due to the wealth of information it contained about life in the early days of Winnebago County.

The exhibit, written by ISAS Professional Outreach Coordinator Robert Mazrim and designed by Mike Lewis and Linda Alexander (ISAS Production) consists of a large, backlit poster—featuring a background image of the Rock River with images of artifacts from the Shumway site in the foreground. Artifacts used in the poster are also displayed in the exhibit case.


The case consists of two levels. The top level, “Life on the Illinois Prairie 1836-1950,” features a large two-sided poster “Progress and Preservation” with an aerial view of the airport with previous historic and prehistoric occupations marked and “Footprints of a Family Farm” detailing the Shumway family’s arrival and life in Winnebago county. A variety of ceramics, including plates, tea cups, and a chamber pot, along with forks, one with a carved bone handle, are on exhibit.

The lower level, “The Little Things in Life,” displays a range of glass, metallic, bone, clay, and prehistoric artifacts discovered during excavations at the Shumway Homesite.

The exhibit was installed in late May 2009 and was on display until March 2013. ISAS hopes to update the exhibit and have it on display in the Rockford area sometime in 2013.


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The Archaeological Heritage of Illinois Exhibit

Visitors at the Krannert Art Museum display

Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Dates: August 31, 2007 - June 1, 2009

Prepared by professional archaeologists at the Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program (ITARP), this temporary exhibition presents objects of material culture related to native peoples who lived in Illinois from approximately 9500 B.C.E. to C.E. 1800. More than 100 items are on display, including clay figurines, bracelets and other ornaments, spear points and fish hooks, pipes, cooking jars, digging and weaving tools and ceremonial objects of exquisite quality and variety.

Story on the Exhibit
News Bureau, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

 Channel 3 News Segment

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