Lakeview Museum closes its doors

By WEEK Producer

September 1, 2012 Updated Sep 3, 2012 at 9:58 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Sherry Heeg has manned her station at Lakeview Museum for parts of three decades.

Saturday is her last day. The museum is closing, and at 80, Sherry has decided to retire.

"It bittersweet. I've been here 19 years. I love everybody here and its going to be sad to leave," said Heeg.

The doors to Lakeview first opened in 1965, two years after the Planetarium. Through the years, the museum has been a focal point of exploration and learning for visitors of all ages.

Lucile Foster says that's why she brought her grandchildren here one last time.

"Knowing that they're learning. And I'm sure the new museum will be the same and there will be so many things to learn and experience," Foster said. "It expands your mind to spend time at museums like this."

That time will now be spent at the new riverfront museum, which opens in October. Most of the exhibits and collections from Lakeview will be moved there.

The new museum will be bigger and have even more to see. But it won't replace the memories created at Lakeview.

During its 47 years, Lakeview Museum has inspired several generations, including a little boy from Pekin who grew up to be an astronaut.

"I constantly run into people who have been through the planetarium," said Jim Richerson, the president and CEO of Lakeview Museum. "One of my favorite stories is Scott Altman. A couple of summers ago we hosted Scott. Scott talked about a 7th grade field trip coming here, certainly not knowing what it would lead to but couldn't help but say who knew the seeds that would be planted. And how many times have we done that."

And continue to do, even on this last day.

"Its just amazing to me what Lakeview Museum has been able to bring to Peoria, Illinois," said Richerson.