Photo Story: A 'Sneak Peek' at the New Geneva History Museum

Photo Story: A ‘Sneak Peek’ at the New Geneva History Museum


The media (and Kane County Connects) got a quick Monday-morning preview of the newly reinvented Geneva History Museum set to open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 23, at the museum at 113 South Third St., Geneva, and it is something to see.

The museum is changing its name (from the Geneva History Center), its logo, its color pallet and the layout and content of its permanent exhibit, which has been for the most part unchanged since the organization moved to the Third Street building 10 years ago.

“The Geneva History Museum really says what we are,” said Glorianne Campbell, second vice president of the board of directors. “We felt it was important to bring ourselves up to speed.”

And up-to-speed it will be. The museum will have four interactive iPad stations, located at strategic points throughout the walking tour, that will allow patrons access oral history, video storytelling, electronic images and scroll-through buttons.

The museum’s centerpiece is the “Fargo Theater” exhibit, where patrons can sit under the marquee and select up to five short “movies” that tell Geneva’s story in a variety of creative ways. Chicago Emmy-Award -winning broadcaster Matt Rodewald hosts one video short on Geneva ghost stories that’s a little campy and just plain fun to watch.

Most of the makeover has been accomplished by volunteers and staff members, and there were probably a dozen people working on the exhibits Monday. History Museum Executive Director Terry Emma said the reinvention has been a labor of love.

“It’s been a year-and-a-half in the making, and in that time, not one person ever said, ‘It’s not in my job description,’ ” Emma said.

The Monday opening will mark near completion of Phase 1 of the renovation, which has budget of about $87,000, although Emma said all of that money has yet to be spent. The Robinson Foundation offered a $30,000 grant if the History Museum could match the fundraising, and Emma and her organizers were able to come up with a $30,000 grant honoring Dick Jaeger, a GHC board member, Herrington Circle member and regular volunteer up until his death in 2012.

Jaeger built miniature models of “Lost Geneva Buildings” that have been incorporated in the themed exhibits throughout the museum. For example, a model of the old Geneva depot is displayed with the “Take Me to Geneva” section that looks at various modes of transportation.

The Fabyan Foundation and the Geneva Lion’s Club as well as private donations from more than 70 individuals made up the balance of the fundraising. The cost of admission is $2 for non-members.

While the exhibit is of interest to longtime Geneva residents, Emma said the majority of the museum visitors are from out of town. She said many people from Kane County have fond memories of trips to Geneva, whether to shop, ride the train, or visit the hospital (which was once Community Hospital in downtown Geneva) or the courthouse and government center.

“A lot of people love Geneva, and this tells the story of what it is today,” Emma said.