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Long-forgotten art now up for auction through Bloomington Public Library

Abraham Lincoln autobiography photo
Eric Stock
A photo of an Abraham Lincoln autobiography is one of more than 30 pieces up of art up for auction to benefit the Bloomington Public Library expansion.

The Bloomington Public Library is currently holding an auction for more than 30 of its art pieces.

The auction began at 6 p.m. Feb. 4 and will end at 8 p.m. Saturday, with starting bids for pieces ranging from $5 to $1,000.

All proceeds from the auction will be going toward the library’s expansion fund. The library is in the midst of a $25 million renovation, and hopes to raise $1.25 million to pay for add-ons to the expansion.

Bloomington Public Library marketing manager Rhonda Massie said the library is hoping to raise around $3,000-$4,000 from this first round of auctions.

Many of the pieces being sold were donations the library did not have room to prominently display.

“As the expansion project that we have going on right now got underway, we needed to remove a lot of the art from the walls because the construction crews are in,” Massie said. “We got it all down and got it all together and realized that we had about 150 different pieces and many of those have been hanging in staff-only areas for a very long time.”

While the history of some of the pieces is unknown since being donated more than 50 years ago, Massie said some of the artwork has a known, interesting past.

“We found one statue that the (McLean County Museum of History) has a story about,” Massie said. “It was purchased at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, and then was donated to Withers Library, which is the predecessor to the Bloomington Library in 1964.”

Three more auctions for pieces appraised at higher values will be taking place online through Hindman Auctions on Feb. 15 and 16, and March 30.

“We have four pieces that were valued between $6,000 and $18,000, and so they’re going to try to sell those for us to possibly make some bigger contributions to the expansion fund,” Massie said.

To learn more information about individual pieces and participate in the auctions, visit the Bloomington Public Library’s website.

Megan Spoerlein was a reporting intern at WGLT.