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A new alliance

Local museums, historic sites band together

DIXON – Rack cards for the new Dixon Museum Alliance are making their way around town.

The town's historical attractions finally are banding together.

The alliance, which met for the first time March 12, is a conglomeration of tourism organizations, museums and historical sites in and around Dixon.

With about 6,000 visitors coming to visit the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home alone last summer, the idea is to work together to cross-promote the city's attractions.

"We wanted to focus on the museum and historic aspects Dixon has to offer," said Brandi Langner, executive director of the home. "If someone comes here to visit, they might not have known about The Next Picture Show, or vice versa. It's excellent to finally have that cross-promotion."

Always an idea that's been talked about, the alliance finally formed after Steve Wilson, building manager at Loveland Community House and Museum, called it together.

"We've got all these great things to come see, why haven't we been playing together?" Wilson asked. "This group is about supporting each other and playing together. After all, we're not in competition with each other."

The alliance includes the Dixon Welcome Center, the Boyhood Home, The Next Picture Show art gallery, Loveland, the John Deere Historic Site in Grand Detour, Lee County Historical Society, Lee County Genealogical Society, Lee County Tourism and the Telegraph Museum.

Designing rack cards and distributing them around town was the alliance's first goal; it can check that one off the list now.

The group met almost weekly through the spring, but that has slowed down. It will not meet again until August.

"We pulled together to get the rack card done, and there are eight of us on it," Langner said. "It's so much more than that, though. We have the benefit of bouncing ideas and things off each other. Maybe somebody has done something another one plans to do, and it just helps get the whole networking thing going."

The next goal is to come together to participate in events, and maybe even create some of their own, Wilson said.

Future meetings will include discussions about the Scarecrow Festival and the Christmas Walk and how the alliance can participate.

"Hopefully, that'll make a nice presentation, and we'll get people to take a look at us," Langner said. "Those are events the museums around town traditionally haven't participated in before."

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