Have historic Route 66 objects? Illinois State Museum needs your help!


A “Route 66” sign is painted on the asphalt near Amboy in the Mojave Desert in California on February 27, 2019. – US.Route 66 (US 66 or Route 66), also known as the Will Rogers Highway, the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways in the US Highway System. US 66 was established on November 11, 1926. The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in the United States, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km). (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WEHT) — The Illinois State Museum (ISM) announced a new collecting initiative, which looks to expand the Museum’s collection of Route 66 historic objects. The initiative comes in preparation for an exhibit opening in 2026 celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Mother Road.

Officials say the Museum is looking for items that help illuminate Route 66’s history, both during its glory days and objects from those who continue to add to its story today.

Bob Waldmire’s family has donated a significant collection of his art and personal belongings to the Illinois State Museum to lay the foundation for the collecting initiative.

“Bob represented a sense of freedom and devil-may-care attitude to people who were more enmeshed in a routine,” said his brother, Edwin “Buz” Waldmire.

Throughout the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, Bob Waldmire traveled from town to town along Route 66, creating and selling art and postcards. Then, in 1985, he bought a 1972 Volkswagen camper van that he lived out of in Arizona; this van was later the inspiration for the character Fillmore in the Disney-Pixar movie “Cars.”

Those interested in contributing to the ISM Route 66 collecting initiative can learn more about the items the Museum is looking to add its collection here.

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