A museum devoted to all forms of basketball in the state of Illinois will open in Pontiac by late 2017 or 2018, it was announced this week.
The Basketball Museum of Illinois, curated by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association, will occupy a closed Kmart store on Vermillion Square, next to old Route 66 on the city’s southwest edge.
The museum also will be next door to a planned Route 66 Museum of Transportation.
The Peoria Journal-Star reported the museum will be more than artifacts, history and images. It also will feature interactive displays, including a miniature hardwood court, and can be used as an event center.
This is the mission statement of the museum:
The Basketball Museum of Illinois is a comprehensive facility dedicated to recognizing the rich tradition and history of basketball in our state from the junior high level level to the development of the professional game. Visitors will discover the stories of the great teams, coaches, players, officials, media, and friends of basketball in our state. Galleries will encourage visitor participation, allowing them to experience the greatest basketball moments in Illinois history. Our goal is to educate and entertain.
The concept for the museum in Pontiac was floated more than two years ago, but the coaches’ group decided not to make a firm commitment until enough funds were raised.
It would bring Pontiac’s total number of museums to seven — including the Mother Road-friendly Illinois Route 66 Association Hall of Fame and Museum and the Pontiac-Oakland Auto Museum.
I think, however, it’s a smart move for Pontiac to land this museum. Most of the other museums are attractive to international and long-distance travelers. A museum devoted to basketball in the state of Illinois would be a draw primarily for sports fans all over the Land of Lincoln. The basketball museum, in a sense, casts a net for tourists closer to home.