Overview

Details regarding the Museum’s exhibits and collections are published below.

Limited Time Exhibit

Built to Last: Celebrating DuPage County’s Historical Architecture

May 1-31, 2024

The Built to Last: Celebrating DuPage County’s Historical Architecture exhibit focuses on the historical architecture of DuPage County. Through this exhibit you can explore the unique architectural styles expressed over the decades and how they influenced DuPage. The array of buildings within the area now sits in harmony with their modern-day counterparts as the historic buildings continue to be preserved and celebrated. While most of these buildings are used for a new purpose, their unique designs have remained the same since the day they were erected.

Changing Exhibits

Before Barbie

Before Barbie

September 7, 2024-May 31, 2025
Invented in 1959, Barbie has become an icon synonymous with childhood and pretend play, but what about before then? What types of dolls and toys were children throughout history utilizing in their everyday play? Before Barbie introduces patrons to the Museum’s collection of dolls and toys that children would have played with for decades before the iconic Barbie and other contemporary toys were invented.

Presidential Encounters: U.S. Presidents in DuPage County

July 13, 2024-April 12, 2025
Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan are just a few of the iconic presidential figures who have visited DuPage County over the years. From campaigns, to rallies, to lectures, or even just to visit, there is no denying that DuPage has had more than a few presidential encounters. This exhibit seeks to explore the encounters from presidents, vice presidents, and presidential candidates and learn about the impact they had through artifacts such as photos, speeches, and memorabilia.

Sponsored by:

DuPage Foundation Logo

Extracurricular: High School Tradition and Culture in DuPage

June 8, 2024-March 22, 2025
Regarded by some as the best, and others the worst, times of their lives, high school often leaves a significant impact on those who attended. From academic achievements to athletic triumphs, from the development of personal relationships to self-discovery, high school offered some of the most formative years of students’ lives over many generations. Extracurricular: High School Tradition and Culture in DuPage looks at the various high schools in DuPage County to highlight the trends in culture and traditions throughout the decades and how these trends have impacted residents of DuPage County as a whole.

Sponsored by:

DuPage Foundation Logo

The Roarin’ Elgin: A Trip on the Chicago, Aurora, and Elgin Railway

June 10, 2023-March 23, 2024
The Chicago, Aurora, and Elgin Railway was one of the first known attempts at making an electric railway between Chicago and Aurora. The Roarin’ Elgin exhibit will explore the ways in which this interurban railroad impacted the lives of DuPage County residents economically, socially, and culturally in the early 20th century and what its closure meant for those it serviced.

Sponsored by:

DuPage Foundation Logo
Planes, Trains & Automobiles Exhibit logo

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

November 29, 2023-June 8, 2024
Whether it be by land, sea or air, humans are always looking for new and innovative ways to travel. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles look at the various ways in which transportation has changed over time and what made these changes necessary. From planes in the sky to ships in the water, this exhibit explores how advancing technology completely changed the way people function in their everyday lives.

Meet Me at the Fair Exhibit logo

Meet Me at the Fair: The Chicago World’s Fairs in DuPage County

July 15, 2023-April 13, 2024
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries expositions and world fairs worked to celebrate the past while also highlighting visions of the future. Chicago hosted two expositions: The World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 and A Century of Progress World’s Fair in 1933-34. Meet Me at the Fair: The Chicago World’s Fairs in DuPage County looks at the ways in which these two expositions impacted DuPage County residents by exploring the various advancements of art, architecture, social issues, agriculture, and technology that were happening during these points of time.

Wheaton, Illinois: Golf History Starts Here

Ongoing Exhibit at Arrowhead Golf Club*
Explore golf history’s Midwestern beginnings by visiting Wheaton, Illinois: Golf History Starts Here at Arrowhead Golf Club. The 1893 Chicago World’s Fair lured golfers onto the greens and an appreciation of the sport grew from there. This exhibit chronicles how Wheaton, Illinois played a pivotal role in the evolution of golf and brings local golf history to life. *Arrowhead Golf Club is located at 26W151 Butterfield Road in Wheaton, IL (Map) Video below: Ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception in honor of the Wheaton – Golf History Starts Here exhibit at Arrowhead Golf Club.

Wheaton IL Golf History Starts Here logo

Permanent Exhibits

Enduring Values in a Changing Landscape

Journey through 150 years of history, from the European-American settlement of DuPage County in the 1830s through the celebration of the 1989 sesquicentennial year. Learn how DuPage residents experienced major historical events, adapted to changing economic and social circumstances, and started lasting traditions. Due to the exhibit’s age, staff has begun to remove and replace some of the artifacts on display to assure their long-term preservation.

All Aboard & HO Gauge Model Railroad

All Aboard features artifacts and historical information on railroads in DuPage County. Located in the same space is the HO Gauge Model Railroad compliments of the DuPage Society of Model Engineers. The detailed layout covers over 2,000 feet of track and highlights some of DuPage County’s railroads and landmarks in a landscape blending fact and fantasy. The model railroad is always on display and has a pushbutton-activated train loop for visitors to enjoy when the Society is not operating the layout. The DuPage Society of Model Engineers is a separate non-profit group that has built and maintained the HO gauge Model Train since 1965. Trains run from 1:30-3:30P on the third and fifth Saturday of each month.

DuPage Society of Model Engineers Presentation

November 19, 2022 | Video by: Kmiecik Imagery

The DuPage Society of Engineers meets every Wednesday from 8-10P for operation and maintenance; also on the third and fifth Saturdays of the month from 1:30-3:30P to operate for the public. Members must be at least 16 years old. Those with a passion for model trains who are interested in helping to maintain and operate the railroad exhibit should contact:

Inside History

This space has gone through some great changes in the past years. For young visitors, we’ve added a play kitchen station, historic costumes, and a wooden railroad. The DuPage County Historical Museum aims to keep these interactive activities coming, and we can do so with your help! An architecture and correspondence station are in the works, as well as expansions to the already existing activities. Local groups and organizations are invited to sponsor a station. Interested parties may leave their contact information at the front desk to learn more.

play train table and children's exhibits in the permanent children's activity space

Special Loans

36th Illinois Infantry Regiment National Colors

The 36th Illinois fought in many battles including Pea Ridge, Perryville, Stone River, Chickamauga, Mission Ridge, Resaca, Adairsville, Dallas, Kenesaw, Atlanta, Franklin, and Nashville. Made of painted silk, this flag was brought back to Springfield after the war. The flag was professionally conserved from 2008-2009 with intensive cleaning and precise repair of the fabric. The restoration was made possible by generous efforts of the Illinois State Military Museum, The Illinois National Guard, the DuPage County Historical Museum, Illinois Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Camps 1 and 2, The Civil War Roundtable of Chicago, The Salt Creek Civil War Roundtable, the McCormick Foundation, and many individuals. The National Colors will remain at the DuPage County Historical Museum through February 2024, on loan from the Illinois State Military Museum.

8th Illinois Cavalry Guidon

The guidon flag was carried by the soldiers of the 8th Regiment of the Illinois Volunteer Cavalry during the Civil War. Beginning in early 1862, the 8th Illinois was stationed in Washington D.C. and attached to the Army of the Potomac, fighting in their first battle at Williamsburg. The unit also fought in a number of engagements including Mechanicsville (Seven Days Battle), Hanover Court House, Seven Pines, Brandy Station, Middleburg, Upperville, and Gettysburg. The 8th Illinois aided in the hunt for John Wilkes Booth, President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, and served as Lincoln’s honor guard while he lay under the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. The flag was professionally conserved from 2011-2012 with intensive cleaning and precise repair of the fabric. A total of $20,000 was raised to fund the work through the combined efforts of the DuPage County Historical Museum, the Illinois State Military Museum, the Illinois National Guard and Militia Historical Society and the 8th Illinois Cavalry Reenactors. The Guidon will remain at the DuPage County Historical Museum through February 2024, on loan from the Illinois State Military Museum. Watch a video of the 8th Illinois Cavalry Guidon Dedication held on July 1, 2012.

Exhibit Quicklinks:

Looking for research assistance or reproductions? Research assistance and copies or reproductions of photos, plate maps, archives, and records are available at the Museum. Learn More

Community Engagement Sponsor:

Exhibit Archive

Of Mustaches and Men

August 13, 2022-June 3, 2023
In a world of restrictive men’s styles and fashions, there has always been one way they could express themselves in almost any way imaginable: facial hair. Come explore the styles and trends of men’s facial hair from the 19th century to the present day and everything in between.

Stories of DuPage: Reading between the Lines

June 11, 2022-March 25, 2023
Several DuPage County residents have penned nationally regarded novels and other fictional works, such as Anna and the King of Siam and the Little Orphan Annie comic strip. Stories of DuPage explores the lives and careers of these authors, examining how their DuPage roots shaped the stories they told.

Typewriter Stories of DuPage Logo

Sponsored by:

the DuPage Foundation Logo

Home Grown: Agriculture and Life in DuPage County

On Display: 2019-2020 Agriculture has been a vital element of life in DuPage County for over 190 years, providing its residents with essential foods and raw materials to make their living. Home Grown explores the historical methods and tools that DuPage residents used to farm and raise livestock and the impacts agriculture has had on the county’s economy, society, and culture.

Sponsored by:

the DuPage Foundation Logo

Ballots of Power: A Century of Women’s Suffrage

On Display: 2020-2021 Women gained the right to vote after decades of activism when the United States ratified the 19th amendment on August 18, 1920. In the 100 years since then, the women of DuPage County have used their power to vote in earnest, running for public office and advocating for change. Discover how DuPage women have influenced politics on the local, state, and national levels.

Sponsored by:

the DuPage Foundation Logo

Wheaton Park District: Celebrating 100 Years

On Display: 2021-2022 The Wheaton Park District is turning 100 on May 28, 2021. This exhibit explores the history of the Park District from its incorporation in 1921 up to the present day, focusing on the parks, facilities, and activities that Wheaton residents have enjoyed for generations.

Sponsored by:

Together We Win: DuPage in World War II

On Display: 2021-2022 After entering World War II in 1941, the United States called on its citizens to adapt to new roles and lifestyles both on the home front and the battlefield. Together We Win tells of the bravery and resilience of DuPage County residents as they answered that call to assist their country and protect freedom throughout the world.

Sponsored by:

the DuPage Foundation Logo

Collection Database

Photo Archive