United States



Alton Museum Of History And Art

The museum was founded in 1971 as a non for profit organization which depends on membership dues, gifts, bequests, and foundation grants to help preserve and tell the story of the individuality of the community which it serves. It illustrates the aesthetic interests and accomplishments of its citizens (the arts) and reflects the story of the development and the achievement of that community (the history) The museum is not supported by state taxes or county taxes or city taxes.

Permanent Collection

Robert Pershing Wadlow was born, educated and buried in Alton, Illinois. His height of 8' 11.1" qualifies him as the tallest person in history, as recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. At the time of his death he weighed 490 pounds.

The Piasa Bird (pronounced Pie-a-saw), is a local legend in the Alton area. Its foundings go back to 1673 when Father Jacques Marquette, in recording his famous journey down the Mississippi River with Louis Joliet, described the "Piasa" as a birdlike monster painted high on the bluffs along the Mississippi River, where the city of Alton, Illinois now stands. According to the diary, the Piasa "was as large as a calf with horns like a deer, red eyes, a beard like a tiger's, a face like a man, the body covered with green, red and black scales and a tail so long it passed around the body, over the head and between the legs." The creature was given its name by the Illini Indians, "The Piasa", meaning a bird that devours men.


The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
ctober 15, 1858 found the City of Alton the site of the seventh and final debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. The debate was a prelude for the 1858 Congressional elections, in which both men were candidates. Over 6,000 people gathered for the event which was in front of the City Hall. State and national figures were present as well as press representatives from Boston, St. Louis, New York and Chicago. The debate carried on for three and one half hours.
Introduction It has been said that, "...the first armed skirmish of the Civil War.." occurred in Alton, Illinois.

This event, in November, 1837, was the murder of the outspoken newspaper publisher and abolitionist Elijah Parish Lovejoy by a pro-slavery mob. The murder inflamed northern passions and so polarized northern opinion that future compromise on the issue of slavery became impossible. Nearly thirty years later the words of the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution which abolished slavery were penned by a resident of Alton. A scant few years after emancipation that the first Memorial Day celebration in the United States was held in Alton; the current celebration, beginning in 1868, is the oldest consecutive Memorial Day Parade in the United States.


Adults $2.50
Children $1.00

Opening hours

10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Saturday - Sunday
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Museum internal and external photos (1)

Click on the images to enlarge


Group and individual tours
available by appointment only
(Prefer 10 days notice)