Nancy Wilson, Curator of Collections, of the Elmhurst Historical Museum, is excited about their new exhibit, “By All Accounts: The Story of Elmhurst.” Occupying the entire second floor of the museum, visitors can’t help but feel they are embarking on a journey back through decades of Elmhurst’s history. The Museum’s staff, led by curator of exhibits Lance Tawzer, has brought a state-of-the-art exhibit to the Elmhurst Historical Museum.
The first stop is a fascinating piece of artistic genius. Two high-quality living photographs are projected on the wall with actors re-enacting a typical day in a by-gone era. The first is the entrance to York Theatre, complete with passers-by played by members of all ages of the Green Man Theatre Troupe. The second picture is Wilder Park, circa, 1930, showing people having picnics, enjoying the grounds and strolling around the conservatory.
Entering the main gallery, visitors see a graphic featuring the history of the windmill from Mount Emblem Cemetery, starting when Henry Frederick Fischer began windmill construction in 1865 after acquiring farmland from his father. Former director of the museum Virginia Stewart directed the portion of the exhibit on the outer walls, complete with monitors that show various Elmhurst residents telling visitors how it was back-in-the-day. From artists and educators to residents who survived the flood of 1987, the narratives are sure to fascinate, along with the large-format graphics, produced in exquisite detail by Elmhurst’s own Tree Towns Imaging and Color Graphics.
Don’t forget to look at the typewriter that was actually used by Carl Sandburg, who lived in Elmhurst from 1919 until 1928. Another absolute must is the exhibit dedicated to Fred Lorenzen, who was just inducted into The 2015 Nascar Hall of Fame, but grew up racing through Elmhurst streets in his go-cart.
After looking at the Object Towers that hold treasures from cultural arenas, historic businesses, general articles of life and religious items, take a look at the wall with twenty photographs of some very interesting looking characters. An I-Pad sits on each side of the display with a page that duplicates the wall. Just choose a photograph on the I-Pad that looks interesting and soon a short description of their contribution to the Elmhurst community will appear. If you want to learn more about a specific individual, additional information is available downstairs in the research library. When you have learned everything there is to know about the forefathers of Elmhurst, a treat awaits in the next gallery.
The most obvious thing in this room is a table. But it isn’t any ordinary table, it is an interactive map that spans from 1930 through present day Elmhurst. Just move the circle to the area of Elmhurst you want to see and turn the dial to the time period you are interested in. Check out your house location, what Elmhurst College looked like throughout the years or even downtown Elmhurst. If you see a blue icon, there is an actual photograph of the area. An orange icon means there is some interesting tidbit of information included. For visiting groups of students, the table can be switched to Docent mode so that the speaker can make a formal presentation while the images are projected on a screen mounted to the wall.
This trip through Elmhurst’s past concludes with a ten-minute documentary, narrated by Bob Sirrot, in a comfortable mini-theater. It is a nice summary which leaves visitors happy they call Elmhurst home.