DuPage County Historical Museum Turns 50

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The DuPage County Historical Museum teaches over 10,000 visitors every year about DuPage County’s importance in history. But when you open the book about the history of the museum itself, you’ll be flipping through the pages to see how far it’s come, literally.

John Quincy Adams, a distant relative of the former president of the same name, gifted the community with the Adams Memorial Library, erected in 1891, in memory of his late wife Marilla Phipps Adams. By 1923, the Adams Memorial Library became the Wheaton Public Library.

“There’s always been an educational entity in this building,” said Museum Manager and Educator, Michelle Podkowa. “Once the Wheaton Public Library moved out of this building the historical society had already started collecting things since 1929 and they knew they wanted a museum, so when the library moved out in 1965 they felt this building would be perfect for a museum. So the historical society made arrangements with some of their members, they banded together and purchased the building.”

And by 1967, the building became the dupage county historical museum.

Recently the museum held its 50th birthday party with the public, to celebrate the 40,000 artifacts that help tell DuPage County’s story.

“We have these influences of Cook County and yet our history is very unique as our own DuPage history. And that is something to be celebrated and something to be remembered and keep in mind as we go through life,” said Podkowa. “So really to just draw that in and to teach people about it through this education, through community engagement so that we can go on and in 50 more years we can see how far we’ve all come.”

From world war one archives and the railroad to Victorian death customs and sports memorabilia, the museum displays more than 150 years of our county’s history.

“I think a lot of history is actually a lot of translation work. We’re always looking back into the past and sort of discovering the culture that existed then but doesn’t really exist now,” said Morgan Valenzuela, a museum assistant and curator of the “Death in DuPage exhibit. “So I feel like we’re doing a lot of that translation work from the back to the present all the time and this exhibit especially does that. It looks at things that we don’t do anymore, that we don’t connect with at that level and hopefully people will be able to come in and explore something new.”

Sharing the history of our backyard for 50 years and many more to come.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.