Past Exhibits

Recent Exhibits presented at Elmhurst History Museum

2015 Exhibits

Beer Chicago: The Refreshing History
September 18, 2015 - February 14, 2016

Chicago's been a beer town since its inception, and this exhibit traced the frothy's brews roots in the city's business, social and political history. Written by Chicago beer historian Liz Garibay, the exhibit took a look at the impact of beer on the Windy City from the establishment of the town at Sauganash Tavern to the neighorhood bars and breweries to the current craft beer scene.

Pigskin Peanuts
June 12-August 9, 2015

“Pigskin Peanuts,” a traveling exhibition organized by the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, CA, showcased 50 of Schulz's popular football-themed Sunday and daily strips depicting the cartoonist's heart-warming stories and wry humor through the exploits of the beloved Peanuts characters. Visitors experienced 35 classic Peanuts three-dimensional objects and memorabilia, plus interactive activity stations including the team "locker room," a football trading card photo opportunity, and a backdrop to recreate the infamous “Fall Classic” by pulling the football from Charlie Brown.

Let Children Be Children: Lewis Wickes Hine's Crusade Against Child Labor
January 15 - April 4, 2015

This traveling photographic exhibition from the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, NY revealed the circumstances that poor working children endured until legislation against child labor prevailed as late as 1938. Lewis Wickes Hine (American, 1874-1940) was a sociologist whose photographs captured his abiding concern for children, immigrants, and working-class people. He was hired by the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) in 1906 to document the harsh conditions in which children worked.

2014 Exhibits

Sox Vs. Cubs: the Chicago Civil Wars
May 16 - September 28, 2014

Major League Baseball in the City of Chicago is divided geographically by only ten miles, but the distance between their fan bases is far greater. This cultural history exposé covers all the bases of the crosstown rivalry to examine concepts of loyalty and fandom through videos of each team’s colorful supporters; interviews with former players, sports journalists and broadcasters; and fan souvenirs and ephemera. Sox vs. Cubs is a regional traveling exhibit and was seen at the Harold Washington Library, Geneva History Museum, Grayslake Historical Museum and other locations.

2013 Exhibits

Carl Sandburg in Elmhurst
November 8, 2013 - April 19, 2014

Prairie poet and newspaperman, folk song collector and movie critic, family man and political activist, Lincoln biographer and children’s book author: Carl Sandburg was a Renaissance man of many talents and passions during the 1920s when he resided with his family in suburban Elmhurst. Through rare photos, film, artifacts and touch-screen interactives, this award-winning exhibit chronicled one of the most prolific decades of Sandburg’s life. The exhibit earned a national AASLH Award of Merit and an Award of Excellence from the Illinois Association of Museums.

Our Lives, Our Stories: America's Greatest Generation
August 30 - October 20, 2013

Visitors explored the life arc of America’s Greatest Generation—the stories of their lives from birth to old age, told in their own words—in the Midwest debut of this national traveling exhibition. Born in the 1910s and ‘20s, this generation was shaped by their experiences during the Great Depression and World War II, creating both the Baby Boom and the postwar economic surge. Highlights included personal anecdotes and photos, a variety of domestic and cultural objects, and multi-media displays. Developed by the Minnesota Historical Society and toured by Mid-America Arts Alliance through NEH on the Road.

Shutter to Think: the Rock & Roll Lens of Paul Natkin
May 31 - August 25, 2013

Paul Natkin is widely considered to be one of Chicago’s most accomplished music photographers. Starting in the early 1970s, Natkin traveled the world documenting signature moments of drama, excitement, and excess that propelled rock’s tumultuous history. His astute eye and knack for capturing “the decisive moment” earned international acclaim and resulted in numerous magazine and album covers. Learn the stories behind many of Natkin’s photos of rock icons including Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, Prince, Pearl Jam, The Who and many more. Narrative written by award-winning Chicago Sun-Times writer Dave Hoekstra.

On the Road to Glory: Fred Lorenzen
February 1 - May 19, 2013

The story of NASCAR legend and Elmhurst native Fred Lorenzen came to life through photos, artifacts, and exciting race footage depicting a little-known local hero who etched his name in the annals of racing history. Find out how this Midwestern outsider, known as “Fearless Freddie,” got the inside track in the early days of professional NASCAR racing to become a fan favorite and winner of the 1965 Daytona 500. In February of 2015, Fred Lorenzen was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. This exhibit was sponsored by Chicagoland Speedway.

2012 Exhibits

Centuries of Progress: American World's Fairs, 1853-1982
October 26, 2012 - January 6, 2013

The history of the American World's Fairs came to Elmhurst in a national traveling exhibition documenting the spectacle and wonder of the stateside World's Fairs. The exhibit featured photographs, posters, video displays, and artifacts from the exhibitions held on U.S. soil starting with the 1853 New York Crystal Palace Exhibition to the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. Organized by the Hagley Museum and Library and a program of ExhibitsUSA, a division of the Mid-America Arts Alliance and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Elmhurst Goes to the Fair
October 26, 2012 Through April 21, 2013

This tandem exhibit featured rare artifacts from the Elmhurst Historical Museum's collection from both of Chicago's World's Fairs -- the Columbian Exposition of 1893 and the 1933-34 Century of Progress. The exhibit featured highlights on former Elmhurst resident and international World Fair promoter, Thomas Barbour Bryan,artist Caroline Wade, and a young Elmhurst girl who made frequent visits to the 1933 fair.

Sweet Home Chicago: The History of America's Candy Capital
May 11-September 30, 2012

From Fannie May and Brach's Candies to Tootsie Rolls, Frango Mints, Lemonheads and many more -- Chicago has a tasty history of producing candy loved the world over. Visitors learned about Chicago's candy-making history and why the city has been a sweet spot for creating confections. The exhibit included interactive displays with nostalgic photos and artifacts, a Candy IQ Quiz to identify candy bars by their ingredients, a video narrated by Bill Kurtis, and the Twisted Candy Challenge tested candy-wrapping skills. Exhibit collaborator: Leslie Goddard, PhD.

Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow: Living With the Atomic Bomb, 1945-1965
January 24-March 18, 2012

The dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan in 1945 marked the end of World War II but resulted in a new threat: the uncertainty of the Atomic Age. This traveling exhibition from ExhibitsUSA explores the ways in which Americans lived with the daily fear of atomic war, and how government responded to the growth of atomic powers and the onset of the Cold War. A program of ExhibitsUSA, a division of the Mid-America Arts Alliance.


Between the States
September 27-December 11, 2011

A touching, poignant traveling exhibition from the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, NY, "Between the States" focused its sights on the Civil War through the lenses of early American photographers. Commemorating the 150th anniversary of “Mr. Lincoln’s War," the exhibit presents a selection of rare photographs depicting historical Civil War sites and circumstances by photographers including George Barnard, Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner and more. "Between the States" and its tour are organized by George Eastman House. 

Letters from Home
September 27-December 11, 2011

The Civil War's local impact came vividly to life through original artwork created by the Elmhurst Artists Guild and inspired by Elmhurst Historical Museum's collection of Civil War era letters from area resident, Frederick Fischer, and his family. On exhibition for the first time, these artistic interpretations offered an intimate depiction of the ordeals experienced by soldiers at war and their families on the homefront.

Toys in the 'Hood
April 26-September 18, 2011

This original exhibit created by EHM staff, in collaboration with author and toy inventor Tim Walsh, brought the art of play to life with an engaging history of toys and the creative Chicago area inventors who have made the city an epicenter for toy invention. Visitors saw prototypes and early versions of some of the classic toys created here in Chicago, as well as video and multi-media displays featuring inventors and their work. Exhibit Collaborator: Tim Walsh.

Anne Frank: A History for Today
February 1-April 3, 2011

The history of the Holocaust unfolded in this traveling exhibition from the Anne Frank Center USA telling the story of Anne Frank through family photographs juxtaposed with images of actual historical events. The exhibit chronicled the history of World II and the key people and events that impacted the lives of the Frank family, and examined difficult choices made by those who joined the Nazi Party, remained bystanders, or chose to resist tyranny. Visitors were encouraged to examine their own attitudes toward others and to work to foster a more just, inclusive society. Anne Frank: A History for Today was developed by the Anne Frank House and is sponsored in North America by The Anne Frank Center USA.

2010 Exhibits

Century City
October 12, 2010 - February 27, 2011

The City of Elmhurst commemorated its 100th year of incorporation with a look back at the last century through rare photos, artifacts and video. Century City contemplated how Elmhurst was impacted by the change from a village to a city form of government in 1910, and told the stories of visionaries and innovations that shaped the city in its first 100 years. 

The Magical History Tour
June 15, 2010 - January 2, 2011

Reviewed by the Chicago Sun-Times as "an enchanted multi-media exhibit about magic and its Chicago connection," The Magical History Tour explored the history of magic and Chicago’s links to the world of magic performance. Features included displays on the legendary magicians who developed this amazing performance art, including Robert-Houdin, Blackstone, Houdini and more. Exhibit Collaborator: Neil Tobin.