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History Museum on the Square features galleries dedicated to the Mother Road, Wild Bill Hickok and more.
SBJ photo by Geoff Pickle
History Museum on the Square features galleries dedicated to the Mother Road, Wild Bill Hickok and more.

Five years and $12M later, History Museum opens downtown

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After five years of more than $12 million in renovations to a historic downtown property, History Museum on the Square is open for business.

Coinciding with the ninth annual Birthplace of Route 66 Festival this weekend, the History Museum’s opening marks a transformation of the 104-year-old former Barth’s department store building. Exhibits include an homage to the Mother Road, according to a news release.

“We’re thrilled to bring the city of Springfield this magnificent, permanent space that tells the story of our founders and the struggles, and triumphs, faced by the people who have made our city what it is today,” said Mary McQueary, president of the museum’s board, in the release.

Along with a building adjacent to the former Barth’s store, History Museum on the Square comprises 18,360 square feet on three floors. Kenmar Construction Inc. served as general contractor for the project designed by Casey Architecture, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

The museum’s features include:
• six permanent galleries, showcasing the history of Route 66, Wild Bill Hickok and other topics;
• an interactive touchscreen that shows vintage photos alongside current ones;
• a transportation gallery covering the history of trolley cars, steam trains and the railroad system; and
• one section for temporary exhibits and special events.

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