The Tillers Museum is home to several distinct collections of artifacts. Together, these objects provide a window through which to understand the development of American agri-culture. This window looks out upon the Midwestern terrain of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During this period the rural landscape was quickly changing, rolling with manufacturing developments of the industrial age.

Each innovation impacted the lives of farmers. In turn, changing values and the desires of farming communities influenced the ambitions of manufacturers. While many of the possessions of rural inhabitants were produced by steam and (later) electricity, these power sources were too cumbersome and expensive to use for most farm work. Instead, the implements used daily by Midwestern farmers continued to operate off of human and animal power well into the twentieth century. With such limitations on power, energy efficiency was a paramount concern with farm equipment design.

Tillers International’s mission is to preserve, study, and exchange low-capital tools that increase the sustainability and productivity of people in rural communities. The historic agricultural implements in the Tillers Museum play a vital role in this work. Many farmers currently work in areas of the world where the infrastructure cannot support the highly mechanized, petroleum-based agriculture that is practiced in the Western world. By preserving objects embedded with technology from America’s animal-powered past, the Tillers Museum acts as a repository of ideas. These ideas become catalysts for a new generation of energy-efficient tools appropriate to the needs of our neighbors across the globe. The Tillers Museum is truly a Museum with a Mission!

The Carroll Abbey Collection

Tillers International acts as custodian of the Carroll Abbey collection for the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. This collection contains over 4,000 historical farming implements that give fascinating insights into our rural history and valuable inspiration for our present and future. Learn more about Carroll Abbey and the collection.

Visiting the Museum

The Tillers Museum is open every Saturday from 9am to 1:30pm. Appointments at other times are welcomed; please contact the office at 269-626-0223 or 800-498-2700 to set up a time. See the Visit Us page for more details.