JOLIET – Is there room in downtown Joliet for two museums?
Ron Romero seems to thinks so.
Romero on Monday pitched the idea of a "Route 66 The Road to Rock" museum, which would commemorate rock-and-roll artists with Illinois connections, to the Joliet City Council.
"We want to be part of the synergy that's happening here in downtown Joliet," Romero told the council. "We're hoping we'll be part of the synergy that's happening here in Joliet."
But Romero's idea faced a series of questions from Councilwoman Jan Quillman, who said she heard the Joliet Area Historical Museum is against it.
"You're going to be working against them," Quillman said.
"Not at all," Romero answered. "They're doing Joliet–Will County history. We're doing rock-and-roll history."
Romero said the "Route 66 The Road to Rock" museum should be able to partner with the Joliet Area Historical Museum and send visitors to each other.
He did acknowledge that he and museum Director Greg Peerbolte parted ways over a rock-and-roll exhibit at the Joliet Area Historical Museum when they could not agree on how it should be done.
"I thought there was a lot of resistance from Greg. He just didn't want to do it," Romero said.
But part of that was that the exhibit required more space than the museum had available, Romero said. He is looking for 6,500- to 10,000-square-feet in downtown Joliet, which could take two floors or an entire building.
Peerbolte could not be reached Monday night for a comment.
Planning for the rock-and-roll museum has been going on more than a year.
It has a board of directors that includes Heather Bigeck, collections and exhibits manager at the Joliet Area Historical Museum. Bigeck got Peerbolte's approval to join the board, Romero said.
The group has a website, www.RoadToRock.org, which describes an exhibit, not a museum. Romero said that is because the website was created when the idea was still to create an exhibit, not a museum.
Quillman also asked Romero whether he'd be seeking city money.
"I'm not going to say yes or no at this point," Romero said.
"If you can do it all independently, I'm all for it," Quillman said, but added she would not be willing to contribute city money to the cause.
Romero said the museum will hold its first fundraiser on Oct. 19 at The Forge nightclub while the "Route 66 Miles of Possibilities" conference is in town.
Mayor Bob O'Dekirk told Romero that the museum "is an exciting idea."
"There's no hostility from the city council," O'Dekirk added. "If you can make it work, we'd like to see it happen."