Visit Spark! Places of Innovation in Hillsboro

Imagine Hillsboro‘s Fifth Hillsboro Harvest Market

25242 Downtown Hillsboro nofilter

Jul 29 – Sep 2, 2023
Days and Times Vary


Hillsboro Public Library
420 S Main St
Hillsboro, IL 62049


Open to the public

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.
Site Specific SM Tiles Hillsboro

About Spark! in Hillsboro

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.

Car Show during Old Settlers Days celebration cropped e1688087018564 768x560

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

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.

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

About Spark! Places of Innovation

Spark! Places of Innovation, part of Illinois Humanities’ Museum on Main Street program, is a Smithsonian traveling exhibition that 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 on Innovation.

Spark! will visit seven towns in Illinois from June 17, 2023, to March 29, 2024.

Plan Your Visit!

NEH Preferred Seal820 300x136
IACA logo