Past Event

Spark! Places of Innovation Exhibition in Hillsboro, IL

Visit the exhibition from July 29 through September 2, 2023.

Exhibition Hours and Location:

Monday – Thursday: 9:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. CST
Friday: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. CST
Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. CST
Sunday: 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. CST

Hillsboro Public Library, 420 South Main Street, Hillsboro, IL

This exhibition and related activities are hosted by Imagine Hillsboro. For information on exhibition hours, tours, and local events, please call (314) 882-5714.

cars in town for the car show during the Old Settlers Days celebration

Hillsboro’s social innovation spirit is featured in the Spark! exhibition. Their historic downtown area lacked vibrancy with empty buildings displaying evidence of neglect and disrepair after losses incurred with the decline of the coal mining industry.

However, by implementing a Tax Increment Finance (TIF) program that helped businesses renovate building façades, partnering with a regional internet provider to bring high-speed fiber to the entire town, and offering incentives for entrepreneurship and small business development, Hillsboro’s downtown has made a comeback!

Hillsboro is a town with rich and well-documented history. Their companion exhibit to Spark!, curated by Tori O’Dell of the Hillsboro Journal-News, examines the history of locally owned newspapers and how they’ve covered and interpreted significant events in local history. Hillsboro local newspaper scene is prominently featured in Beacons in the Darkness: Hope and Transformation Among America’s Community Newspapers by Dave Hoekstra.

The community of Hillsboro is vibrant with “city amenities and small-town charm.”  The Spark! exhibition is part of the town’s 200th birthday celebration, with the theme, “Past, Present, and Future.” Plan your visit to see this free exhibition in Hillsboro during the town’s 2023 Old Settlers Days celebration from August 5 – 10th. If you can’t make it that week, no worries! Hillsboro has much to offer from the Orpheum and Grand Theatres to local shops, restaurants, and more.

About the Exhibition

Spark! Places of Innovation, part of Illinois Humanities’ Museum on Main Street program, highlights innovation in rural America from the perspectives of people who have lived it. Their words, images, and experiences, gathered through an ambitious crowdsourcing initiative, are the heartbeat of the exhibition. The communities featured in Spark! – including seven small towns in Illinois – have enhanced their vitality through innovations in fields such as technology, agriculture, economic development, education, and the arts. Explore the diversity, ingenuity, and tenacity of rural Americans in Spark! Places of Innovation.

Learn more and view the complete tour schedule.

Spark! Places on Innovation is presented in partnership with Imagine Hillsboro, the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, and Illinois Humanities.

Featured image: Imagine Hillsboro‘s Fifth Hillsboro Harvest Market