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 sixteen 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.
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 thru 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.