Naper Settlement Plans for Two New Buildings

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For years, visitors to Naper Settlement have entered the museum through the historic Pre-Emption House. But that could soon change.

New Buildings Planned

The settlement plans to bring two new buildings to the campus, including the Innovation Gateway.

“The Innovation Gateway will provide a larger and more wide open exhibit space. One thing we’re concentrating on is telling the national story and bringing it more local. I think that allows people to tie into that whole story a bit better,” said John Koranda, chair of the board of directors for the Naperville Heritage Society.

Modernizing the Settlement

The gateway will include modern museum amenities like a digital wall visitors can interact with, and the ability for residents to upload their own stories.

“All those things that might be in your attic or your basements that you really want to keep, but at the same time you want them to be able to be accessible to you forever. We help you make sure that story has infrastructure, that it essentially the way a museum would have kept it,” said Naper Settlement President and CEO Rena Tamayo-Calabrese.

Agricultural Center

And while the Innovation Gateway will be the first thing visitors see, a space at the back of the property will house the Agricultural Center – a celebration of Naperville’s farming community heritage coupled with a modern STEM laboratory.

Both buildings are part of a campaign years in the making. But after Naperville City Council voted unanimously to partially fund the $8.21 million project, they’re a big step closer to turning Naper Settlement into a modern museum.

“Museums and the way people learn has changed a lot,” said Koranda. “So in order to create the relevance and stay current so we can actually provide and accomplish the mission we want to do, we definitely need an updated building.”

Funding Plan

The city plans to provide funding through a SECA grant, and to take on debt so as not to take away from other SECA projects.

The settlement hopes to start construction by 2022.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.