The mission of the Geneva History Museum is to preserve and share Geneva’s evolving story while inspiring and engaging the community.
We will accomplish this by…
Collecting: Acquiring material on Geneva’s history in all forms from past to present.
Preserving: Caring for the artifacts in our collection for present and future generations.
Researching: Sharing our unique resources with researchers across the world.
Educating: Inspiring and engaging visitors through programs and exhibitions.
Our vision is to be an accredited, sustainable Museum, connecting globally as the premier source of Geneva’s history.
Stewardship – We are committed to providing the highest level of care for objects the Museum holds in perpetuity.
Authenticity – We provide links to history through well documented collections, accurate interpretation, and reliable scholarship.
Ingenuity – We apply limited resources in innovative ways to maximize the effectiveness of our programs and the efficiency of our operations.
Engagement – We invite community involvement in our exhibits, programs, and collection development, and build partnerships with organizations and individuals.
Read our 2019-2023 Strategic Plan that guides our progress.
In 1943, dedicated citizens formed the Geneva Historical Society to preserve local history and educate the community. Artifacts were cataloged and stored in private residences and exhibited in storefronts. A Museum Committee was formed in 1961 to raise funds for a building. After years of searching existing buildings, they made a deal with the park district and city to build the first Geneva History Museum in Wheeler Park. This building was expanded twice, in 1972 and in 1990.
As newcomers began to outnumber long-time residents, the Historical Society recognized the need for flexible space and a more central location. In 2004, the organization, renamed the Geneva History Center, conducted a successful capital campaign to purchase a two-story building in the heart of Geneva’s historic district. The building was renovated to create two exhibition galleries, storage areas for collections and archives, a research room, a meeting room and offices. The organization has always operated on voluntary donations and does not receive public funds.
In 2013, while participating in the Museum Assessment Program, it was rediscovered that the word Museum best represents the activities and services of the organization. In June 2014, the name became the Geneva History Museum, operated by the Geneva Historical Society.
The Museum celebrated 10 years in this building in August 2014 with a grand reopening of the redesigned Main Gallery, “Geneva’s Story,” our permanent exhibition. Group Programs and Geneva on Wheels tours by van, trolley and bicycle were also developed to bring the Museum out into the community.
In 2014 the Museum started the Standards of Excellence Program for History Organizations (StEPs) offered by the American Association for State and Local History which provides benchmarks against nationally recognized standards.
With a goal of national accreditation, the Museum began reviewing and revising its core documents for the American Alliance of Museums in 2015 and continues to make improvements to meet Best Practices. In 2017, the Museum was awarded a Collections Assessment for Preservation grant from the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation which provided a site visit by a conservationist and an architect who created a prioritized list of goals to improve the facility.
In 2017, the Museum was voted one of the “Best Museums in the Suburbs” by The Daily Herald and one of the “Best of the West” area Museums by West Suburban Living Magazine.
After completing all of the five StEPs, the American Association for State and Local History chose the Geneva History Museum as their national StEPs SpotLight in 2018 as an example of how StEPs is helping organizations take a leap forward by improving policies and practices, opening lines of communication and setting goals for a bright future.
Since 2011, the Geneva History Museum has evolved under Terry’s leadership along with a professional and dedicated staff. She recently earned an Institute of Museum and Library Service grant to redesign the lower level collections and archives storage. Terry secured participation in the Museum Assessment Program and a Collections Assessment grant which resulted in a total rebranding effort. She has raised more than $400,000 in grants and donations as well as co-authored content to redesign the main gallery Geneva’s Story. Terry was named the Wood Award recipient by the Geneva Chamber of Commerce in 2019 as an individual who has made significant community contributions. In 2014 she was named Geneva Masonic Lodge #139, “Citizen of the Year,” and longtime community volunteer. She is a graduate of Geneva High School, with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Education from Augustana College and a third-generation Geneva resident.
Vanessa returned from retirement and rejoined the GHM staff in 2021. She brings her vast experience of retail and multi-tasking which are both needed in order to run the daily operations at the front desk.
Curator of Collections & Exhibitions
Markie brings over eight years of museum and collections experience to GHM. Originally from Bradley, Illinois, her history background began as she studied at Northern Illinois University. While there, Markie received both her Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies. She worked for three years as the Graduate Assistant for the Center for Burma Studies at NIU, caring for more than 3,000 art objects within the Burma Art Collection, and assisting with the development and installation of over ten exhibitions. Her duties at the Center allowed her multiple travel opportunities to Southeast Asia where she worked with local non-profits and universities exhibiting, presenting on and surveying art objects. Markie previously worked for The Pick Museum of Anthropology at NIU and the Kankakee County Museum in Kankakee, IL.
A Geneva resident and former school teacher, Heidi coordinate educational programs for schools, scouts, summer camps and adult tour groups. Since 2013 she has created multi-faceted tours at the Museum and in the classroom with personal presentations and rentable traveling trunks. Heidi has a Bachelor of Arts from Iowa State University and was on staff at Samford University where her concentration focused on teaching methods for elementary education.
Board of Directors
Mick grew up in Geneva and is a 1956 graduate of Geneva High School. He has been a volunteer in the Museum’s archives for more than 17 years sharing his knowledge of reading abstracts and land records. With his assistance, the Museum has awarded more than 100 bronze plaques to historic buildings in Geneva.
Anne has over 25 years of experience in technology project management which will contribute to the success of the Museum including project implementation, collaboration, business development and training. “The Geneva History Museum has been an organization close to my heart for a long time.”
Glorianne is a 1959 graduate of Geneva Community High School and has served on the Exhibition and Education Committee of the Geneva History Museum, Preseration Partners of the Fox Valley and Historic Homes Association. Glorianne previously served as Vice-President of the Riverhead Central School District Board of Education in New York and was the Executive Director of HUGS, Inc., a non-profit organization. She and her husband, Colin, live in a historic Geneva home built in 1866 which the family purchased in 1946.
Jeff is returning to the GHM Board of Directors and is a professional financial advisor with an office in Geneva.
Kelly has served on the Mutual Ground Gala Committee, and has lead board positions at St. Peter School. She is a member of the Geneva Women's Club and is currently Operations/Accounting & Technology for State Street Jewelers. She is a life-long resident of Geneva. "I enjoy giving back to my community and adding value and service to any committee."
Dan brings a background in finance and accounting to the Board of Directors as well as a love of history. “I enjoy U.S. history of any kind and volunteering at the Museum where I grew up is a bonus.” Dan is a regular volunteer in the Museum’s archives assisting with cataloging the collection.
Tracy is a lifelong resident of Geneva with 28 years experience on the Board of Directors for the Chester Gould Dick Tracy Museum. “I have watched the Geneva History Museum expand and wish to be a part of its future growth.”
Suzy is a former special education teacher with expertise in special events, strategic planning, and public relations/marketing. She currently serves on the City of Geneva's Mental Health Board and the Ethics Board. She volunteers for an equine therapy program and is a 30-year resident of Geneva. "I am happy to join an effort to preserve local history and serve my community so residents of Geneva can have a place to become more familiar with the place, people, and things they call home."
Llona served on the Waubonsee Community College Curriculum Council and is currently a class facilitator for the Lifelong Learning Institute. She is interested in history, preservation and ongoing education is her avocation. "When we moved to Geneva ten years ago, GHM was one of our first stops and a place which welcomed us."
Mary is Vice President of Riverbank Laboratories Inc. in Geneva. She is a volunteer for Fox Valley Face to Face and the Unitarian Church. Mary brings experience in finances and accounting. "I like the museum's contributions to our community."
Jennie is a retired violinist from the Chicago Symphony and worked for forty years on the profit side of a non-profit organization. As a new resident Jennie said, "The architecture and history of Geneva was the reason I moved here from Evanston. It is an important part of the appeal of our town and we need to protect it." Jennie is also the secretary of the Fox Valley Knitting Guild.