- Editor’s Note: This article is part of a weekly series on Kane County’s amazing history. Today’s post is contributed by Terry Emma, director of the Geneva History Museum. All photos are courtesy of the Geneva History Museum.
The Geneva History Museum is pleased to announce that we have reopened to the public. Free admission will be offered for the remainder of 2021! (Donations are always welcome and appreciated.)
Thank you for your patience these past few months. What a year this has been for all of us!
COVID closure was very emotional, but it presented many opportunities for GHM to complete grant projects, update the Main Gallery and Gift Shop, and to get organized. Over the past 16 months staff and volunteers worked on a $300,000 grant project for the installation of compact mobile shelving in the archives and collections storage rooms.
The grants were awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Dunham Fund and the Kane County Riverboat Fund.
This project was planned to take place in January of 2021 and cause the museum to close for just three months. Staff and volunteers decided to take advantage of COVID pandemic closure and started to project in June of 2020, following CDC guidelines with temperature checks, masks and social distancing.
It took three weeks to move all of the objects and old metal shelves out of the storage rooms and temporarily set them up in rooms on the first floor of the museum. Large objects and furniture were inventoried and photographed during the move. This was previously an impossible task to perform in the former storage conditions.
With all 50,000 objects moved to the first floor, the empty rooms were measured by the contractor and the shelves were ordered in July, 2020. While staff waited for the shelves to arrive, they identified and indexed more than 8,000 photographs, and reorganized boxes and files. Volunteers painted the walls with fresh white paint and the floors were painted teal.
The new shelving systems were installed in November, just before Thanksgiving. With increased COVID restrictions, moving the objects back to the lower level was completed by staff only. Each object was evaluated and the new location updated in the museum’s database. This final stage of the project took months, but time was all we had.
The new shelving system achieved the goals set in the grant proposals, which included increasing accessibility, as well as improving the care, storage and environmental conditions for the former cramped collections and accommodate future growth.
The museum also took advantage of the time to make updates to the 3,000-square-foot Main Gallery, “Geneva’s Story” with a grant from the Fabyan Foundation.
Two additional chapters were added on community service and entertainment. More artifacts and archival images are on display, and videos and interviews are available on a fifth iPad.
After seven years of fundraising, a Story Booth was built where visitors to listen or record their Geneva stories. Stories may be included in future exhibitions or programs and added to the museum’s archives.
The museum’s Gift Shop was redesigned by volunteer Craig Elliott, with slat wall systems and custom shelving. New inventory has been added and more is on the way.
This summer, the museum is partnering with Geneva artist Catherine Tilly for her public art project, “Dear Geneva, With Love.” A large chalkboard wall has been installed on South Third Street, just north of the Geneva History Museum and 5,000 postcards are being scattered throughout Geneva — all with a simple prompt — write a note or draw a picture to tell the world what you love about our community.
This project is a response to the time we’ve spent socially distanced and apart. It’s designed to be an unfolding story of community, a snapshot of history, and a love letter to place — part public art, part marketing and part history. The temporary wall installation, made possible by Hogan Construction, will remain through Festival of the Vine in September.
The project is made possible with support from the Geneva History Museum, Hogan Construction, The Geneva Cultural Arts Commission, and Geneva Foundation for the Arts. Thanks to the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva for the use of the lawn.
We encourage everyone to visit the museum to enjoy these new additions. Ask the Front Desk volunteer if a staff member is available to provide a behind-the-scenes tour. Tours can also be scheduled by calling the museum at 630-232-4951.
Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. We are excited to show the community these improvements and can’t wait to say, “Welcome to the Geneva History Museum” as you walk through our doors.
Read The Kane County History Series!
- 1850-1925 Geneva — When Penmanship Was Mightier Than The Sword
- St. Charles Museum Site — From Serving Gas To Preserving History
- Elgin Puts 3,500 Priceless Photos Online
- Batavia-Inspired Miniatures Thrilled a Nation
- Aurora’s Maud Powell, World Famous Violinist
- Waxing Nostalgic on Geneva’s WGSB, WFXW
- American Doughboys of WWI — in St. Charles, IL
- Experience High-Tech History at April 21 ‘Open Elgin’ Event
- Batavia, IL — ‘Windmill Capital of The World’
- Meet Andy Aurora, Man About Town
- Celebrating The 50th Anniversary of 9-1-1 in Geneva
- Blue Goose And Evergreen Pub — ‘Shop Local’ 90 Years In The Making
- Elgin Is The Apple of Illinois Bicentennial’s Eye
- Nordens Soner And Batavia’s Swedish Society
- Aurora’s Melting Pot ‘Yearning To Breathe Free’
- Candles, Timing Devices, Phonographs And The ‘Life Cup’ — All Things Made in Geneva
- Hotel Baker, The ‘Masterpiece’ of The Fox Valley
- Elgin Celebrates Our Once-Burgeoning Dairy Business
- Reflections of Batavia’s Quarry Beach Pool
- Aurora’s Mabel O’Donnell, Author of “Alice And Jerry’ Books
- As Alice (Davis) Says, ‘Schools Out For Summer!’
- Elgin Watches, ‘The World’s Standard’
- Aurora Silverplate a Symbol of Good Taste
- Women Leaders Played Huge Roles in Geneva
- Nationally Renowned Summer Camp in St. Charles
- The Harrowing Story of William Lynch, Elgin’s Civil War Brigadier General
- Batavia Powered The Aurora, Elgin & Chicago Railway
- Corsets Doing Big Business in Aurora? Scandalous!
- One Block of Geneva Tells 1,001 Fantastic Stories
- St. Charles’ Evergreen Pub — The ‘Before’ Photos
- 1917-18 — When Elgin Artists Went to War
- Thomas Cleveland — Batavia’s Presidential Connection
- Do Your Wurst — Aurora Meat Markets Are ‘In’ Again
- Geneva Is The Place For Graveyards And Ghosts
- Visit Amelia Anderson At St. Charles’ North Side Cemetery
- Calling All Artists! … For a Cobblestone Reflection in Elgin
- Batavia’s 108-Year-Old Gazebo Still Lights The Way
- The Compelling, Tragic Story of Aurora’s Black WWI Hero Frank Boger
- Geneva History Museum Invites Artists To Celebrate Cultural Heritage
- Elgin’s Anson Clark Soared in The Great War … And Life
- What It Meant To Be a Patrol Boy and Louise White School
- ‘Men’s Night’ Christmas Shopping Was a 1950’s Aurora Phenomenon
- St. Charles Remembers Colson’s Christmas-Day Fire of ’33
- The Art of Elgin’s Cobblestone Reflections
- When Suffrage Met Prohibition in Batavia
- Geneva Presents The Art of The Fox River
- Blansford Astronomical Clock Is Aurora’s Treasure
- St. Charles Returns Family Heirlooms From WWII
- Museum Lands Painting By Elgin Artist Albert Kenney
- Cars Still Fixed at Historic Location in Downtown Batavia
- A Bird’s-Eye View of 19th Century Geneva
- Sheldon Peck: Kane County’s Connection To The Underground Railroad
- Elgin High School Celebrates 150 Years of ‘Education For All’
- Batavia’s Incredible Roller Skating History
- The Fabled History of Jewelry Stores in Geneva
- Astonishing Buried Treasure Discovered in Aurora Outhouse
- Lincoln Elementary School in St. Charles Celebrates 90 Years of Education
- Remembering Elgin High Grad, Renowned Composer Daniel Brewbaker, 1951 – 2017
- Meet Batavia’s Sharron Moran, LPGA Star, ‘Most Beautiful Golfer’ of 1966
- The Many Iterations of Geneva’s National Food Store
- The Burlington Zephyr — A ‘Silver Streak’ Through Aurora
- What IS That Thing in Downtown St. Charles?
- 18 Events, Limited-Edition Poster For Preservation Month in Elgin!
- Julius Amandus Anderson’s WWI Memorial Trapunto Banner
- Geneva’s Swedish Days Celebrates Its 70th Anniversary
- The Historic Drive To Save Aurora’s GAR Hall
- The Story of St. Charles’ Paddlewheel Riverboats
- Meet Elgin’s Legendary Marshal — Andrew Barclay Spurling
- Jackie DeShannon ‘Put A Little Love’ In Batavia
- Aurora’s William S. Hart, Cowboy Movie Star
- St. Charles’ First Settlers, One Lost, Found Again
- Discover The Elgin Stories All Around You
- Batavia’s WWI French Connection
- Amazing Stories Behind Geneva’s Extraordinary Parks
- Roots Aurora Seeks 2019 Nominations For Aurora Cultural Champions
- Newly Renovated Thompson Middle School Retains Memories of St. Charles High
- Elgin’s Bluff City Cemetery Memorializes City’s Past
- Batavia Connection to 1969 Moon Landing
- Geneva Company Made Huge Contribution to Art Deco
- East Vs. West 1914 — Aurora’s Greatest Football Game
- North, Union Cemeteries Are St. Charles’ Hallowed Grounds
- Elgin Temperance Crusaders Take Hatchet To Beer Fans
- Ever Heard of Clybourneville? (Hint: It’s Now in Batavia)
- Geneva Ghost Stories Rise From Former Hospital Site
- Aurora Tells The Cows To Shut Up
- Baby Face Nelson And 100 Years of St. Charles Boys School ‘Good, Bad And Ugly’
- Behold The Telegraph, Elgin’s First Digital Communication!
- Mary Bailey, Batavia’s Trailblazing Woman Lawyer
- Holiday Traditions, Historic Creche at Geneva History Museum
- Welcome To Thanksgiving Dinner at Aurora’s Tanner House
- St. Charles’ Whiskey Bend Signaled Boom Time For Taverns
- From Elgin Watch Cases To 4.2 Mortar Shells
- Lorraine James’ Art Leaves Lasting Impression on Batavia
- Geneva Remembers The Tornado of 1967
- New Year’s Calling in Aurora
- Newly Digitized Footage Documents Construction of St. Charles Municipal Building
- ‘New Year’s Calling’ in Aurora Was The Online Dating of Late 1800s
- A Woman’s Right To Vote — In Elgin
- How The Household Journal Came To Batavia
- Geneva’s East Side — From Dodson To Dog ‘N’ Suds
- On Leap Year, ‘She-Wolves of Aurora’ Have ‘Gender-Swapping Fun’
- Mary Todd Lincoln, Batavia Resident
- The Women Who Broke Codes at Riverbank Labs in Geneva
- Turn Around in Aurora And You’ll Bump Into a Luxembourger
- Geneva History Museum Offers COVID-19 Journal
- Aurora’s Amazing Family Portrait Exhibit ‘A Brilliant Idea’
- How St. Charles Survived The Spanish Flu in 1918
- Elgin Epidemics — COVID-19 Is Not The First To Bring Suffering, Sorrow
- Geneva Museum Passes Milestone
- Aurora’s African-American Police Officers
- Garner Family Is St. Charles’ Juneteenth Celebration Story
- Notable Black Americans From Elgin, IL
- Black Batavians Played Key Roles in History
- Geneva History Museum Reveals Archive Redesign
- Family Secrets — Historian Finds 1866 ‘I Love … ‘ Message Scratched in Tanner House Window
- Cut Glass Was Booming During Roaring 20s in St. Charles
- Elgin Remembers Devastating Palm Sunday 1920 Tornadoes
- Batavians Find Treasure in 150-Year-Old Privies
- Geneva Hosts Virtual Night at The Museum
- Visit Aurora’s Tanner House — With a Click of The Mouse
- Elgin Cemetery Walk Is Virtual Travel Through Time
- James Prindle Jr.’s Roll Top Desk Returns To Batavia
- 60 Years Ago, Kennedy Campaigned in Geneva
- Aurora’s 1894 Central Station Proud Home of Regional Fire Museum
- Secret Symbolism in Elgin’s Bluff City Cemetery
- Meet The Doctors Who Shaped St. Charles’ History
- Batavia Inventor Paul Hassler And His Arithstyle Adding Machine
- The ‘Background’ on Geneva’s Famous Creche
- Aurora Soldier’s Diary Reveals Gripping Story of War, Love, Pain And Heroism
- St. Charles’ Delnor Hospital — A Thanksgiving Gift in 1940
- Meet Elgin’s Mary Muirhead of The WWI Army Nurse Corps
- Geneva’s Holiday Giving Tradition Continues Despite Pandemic
- Remembering The Days When Aurorans Cut Ice on The Fox River
- Arcada Plans Next Chapter of Its St. Charles Story
- Christmas Memories in Elgin
- A Brief History of The Batavia Historical Society
- Order Your Geneva Home By Mail — Right From the Catalog!
- Aurora’s Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Winter of 1918
- St. Charles’ Response to COVID-19 Sparks Memories of WWII
- Elgin’s Black Soldiers Proudly Served in U.S. Armed Forces
- Amazing Stories of Batavia’s Thriving Black Community Date Back To 1855
- Step Back in Time to See ‘HerStory’ in Geneva
- Aurora Will Never Forget The Great Flood of 1857
- When Cars Came To Elgin, Tragedy Followed
- Batavia’s Female Athletes Fought To Play The Games They Love
- Take a Tour of Geneva Art History!
- Play Ball! Hall of Famer Casey Stengel Among the Greats to Round The Bases in Aurora
- St. Charles History Hustle Pays Homage to Long-Lost Sport of Competitive Walking
- Elgin’s History Is Written in Street Signs
- Batavia Museum Finds Treasure in Capt. Carr’s Spyglass
- Celebrate 185 Years of Kane County Courthouse in Geneva
- Meet Aurora’s Peerless Publisher, Olive Beaupre Miller
- Charles Haines — The Man Who Saved St. Charles Schools
- Elgin’s Perry Thomas — From Inventor to Atomic Bomb Photographer
- Take Me Out To The (Batavia American Legion) Ballgame
- Aurora Journalist Randy Shilts Helped Frame Debate About Gay Rights Movement
- Wheeler’s Rolltop Desk Held Secrets of Underground Railroad in St. Charles
- Aviation Began To Take Off at Hoornbeek Airfield in Elgin
- Kane County History: Good Roads Day! Batavia Was The Starting Link of The Lincoln Highway
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