Portraits of Peoria
Visit the new augmented reality murals on the windows of Main Library and watch history come to life.
Portraits of Peoria honors notable past Peorians (and those who called the area home) who changed our community and our world.
Using a special phone app, you can scan each mural, prompting a video featuring a local actor portraying the subject of the mural telling their stories from a first-person perspective, sharing little-known facts and fun details. The portraits are designed to help educate and celebrate the diverse and important contributions of notable people who called Peoria home.
Download the free app (available for Android or iOS) via the QR code or through your app store.
“This program is historic. It is quite literally putting Peoria on the map thanks to the union of art and technology. We are telling stories about those who called central Illinois home that uplift and inform—from Nance Legins-Costley, the first enslaved African American freed by Abraham Lincoln twenty years before the Civil War, to that of Jim and Marian Jordan, also known as ‘Fibber McGee and Molly,’ who were radio stars during the 1940s and captured the hearts of millions across the nation,” said Dr. Mae Gilliland Wright, Executive Director of Big Picture Peoria, which led the project.
“The project brought together an all-star group of eight local artists, nine performing artists, a historian and writer, film crew, and app programmers and developers. The location of the murals is also of great importance. If you are interested in learning more about each of the mural subjects, the library staff is there to help. We hope to see this program continue to expand.”
The murals depict the following significant Peorians, all created by celebrated local artists:
Lydia Moss Bradley by Connie Andrews
Nance Legins-Costley by Preston Jackson
Betty Friedan by Eliza von Zerneck
Valeska Hinton by Brenda Pagan
Jim and Marian Jordan (“Fibber McGee and Molly”) by Bob Doucette
Annie Turnbo Malone by Trish Williams
Dr. Romeo B. Garrett by Kevin Bradford
Robert “Bob” Gilmore by Jeremy Berkley.
“When Big Picture Peoria approached us about this partnership, we were honored and immediately understood that these murals, which marry art, history and technology, would have the perfect home here at Main Library,” said Peoria Public Library Executive Director Randall Yelverton. “We love our new look, and we’re so grateful to Big Picture Peoria for including us in their journey to bring more public art to Peoria.”
The Portraits of Peoria Augmented Reality component is funded by a grant from the Community Foundation of Central Illinois. Mural support comes from Sharon and John Amdall; Program support from Discover Peoria and the City of Peoria. This program is supported partially by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
The Portraits of Peoria program was created by Big Picture Peoria, a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to build a thriving and vibrant community for all by using arts and creativity as a driver for social change, economic development, and wellness. They do this by providing arts-based solutions, promoting and supporting artists and arts initiatives, and advancing arts education.