The museum was founded in 1971 as a non for profit organization which depends on membership dues, gifts, bequests, and foundation grants to help preserve and tell the story of the individuality of the community which it serves. It illustrates the aesthetic interests and accomplishments of its citizens (the arts) and reflects the story of the development and the achievement of that community (the history) The museum is not supported by state taxes or county taxes or city taxes.
Loomis Hall is located on College Avenue on the dental school campus across from the statue of Robert Wadlow, the Alton Giant. Loomis Hall, (the oldest building in the state of Illinois that has been continuously dedicated to education) was built in 1832 by the Baptists as the first building in what was to become Shurtleff College. Within this museum can be found the Classroom Gallery which displays the art accomplishments of area citizens, the Wadlow Room, which tells the story of the tallest man in the world, the Pioneer Room which describes the exploits of Lewis & Clark, The Wood River Massacre, The Lincoln & Shields Duel, the Confederate Prison at Alton, and the Black Pioneers.
The museum also maintains exhibits at The Koenig House which was built in 1887 by a German American Engineer who was employed by the Illinois Glass Company. These exhibits include the Alton Landing Room which describes the story of the Alton River Front from 1797 until the present day, and the Lovejoy Printshop and the Elijah P. Lovejoy Memorial Room. The second floor of the Koenig House has the Alton Area Historical Society Research Library which is maintained by the Alton Area Historical Society.