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Lake County Forest Preserves | Preservation, Restoration, Education and Recreation

Dunn Museum

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Bess Bower Dunn Museum Opening Late 2017.

Feet of the dryptosaurus being created for the new museum
Wigwam at new museum being built
Dryptosaurus being created for the new museum
Employees looking at the new museum being built
The new empty archive shelves
Dryptosaurus being created for the new museum

Museum Move Updates

Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County

We are pleased our Commissioners approved naming the Museum after Bess Bower Dunn (1877–1959). Dunn deserves much credit for her work preserving the early history of Lake County, Illinois. She was a founding member of the Lake County Historical Society (LCHS) where she personally collected many of the items in the LCHS collection—which we now own. She was a 60-year employee of Lake County, and upon her retirement, was named the first official Lake County Historian. She was known for traveling throughout Lake County early in the 20th century photographing historic sites and meeting with early residents to collect their stories.  Learn more »

The Museum’s collections, which comprise nearly 20,000 artifacts and items from the Lake County History Archives (previously stored at Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda), are now securely housed in Libertyville, in a modern environmentally controlled storage facility. The move was quite amazing to watch. Museum staff packed all of the artifacts, carefully wrapping, boxing and labeling where each item would be placed in the new facility.

The gallery space is taking shape as we continue to install the new exhibitions. This former office envi­ronment has been transformed into a dynamic museum everyone can enjoy, complete with artifacts, interactive items, and a dinosaur—everything you would expect from a nationally accredited museum. Our educators are also developing new programs for schools and the public.

We’re excited to share the Dunn Museum with you later this year. 

Read more in the fall 2017 issue of Horizons.

Checking Items Off Our "To Do" List

  • Develop content outline
  • Order exhibit cases
  • Order life-sized reconstruction of Dryptosaurus
  • Select wigwam teaching materials
  • Contract for animation development
  • Keep working on the "To Do" list

We are moving conceptual drawings off our computer screens and into actual physical exhibition space. Former office walls have been demolished and are being replaced with new walls designed for exhibits. New carpeting, paint, and lighting designs are ready to showcase our collections. Featured stories have been selected and details of the exhibitions outlined. We are excited to be working with paleoartist Tyler Keillor, who will be creating a life-sized reconstruction of a Dryptosaurus dinosaur. We are also working with a member of the Pokagon Tribe of the Potawatomi to assist with artifact selection and content development for the exhibitions.

Read more in the summer 2017 issue of Horizons.

Transition to New Location Underway

The Museum is currently closed while the historic collections are making the move from their former home at Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda to our General Offices in Libertyville. On September 1, 2016, the Museum closed to the public so that the process of packing each treasure and transporting them to their new home could begin. Our exhibit designers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers and other crews are preparing for their arrival, transforming the first floor and the lower level of the General Offices building to house and display the incoming collections. A grand opening is anticipated in late 2017.

Read more about the move in Horizons: Fall 2016 issue and the Spring 2017 issue.

Another Step Toward Our Vision

This initiative is part of a larger strategic effort to rethink the Museum and align it with the District’s 100-year Vision for Lake County. Taking a forward-thinking view, the new Museum will blend Lake County’s natural and human history, and aim to significantly grow the number of people served each year. As part of the process, we will engage the broader community to consider new and innovative ways to continue to communicate the importance of preserving Lake County’s past, while inspiring future generations to care for the collections for the long-term.

You can help support the new Museum. Contact the Preservation Foundation of the Lake County Forest Preserves at 847-968-3110 to find out how.

Questions About the Move?

Email or call Museum staff at 847-968-3400.



While the Museum is closed, learning will not stop. Our educators will continue to provide experience-based learning in the form of field trips and in-school programs for the 2016–2017 school year. Educators visit classrooms with artifacts and activities on a variety of local history topics. For details, email or call Nicole Stocker at 847-968-3422. 


Check this page for progress updates and follow us on Facebook for reveals of never-before-displayed artifacts coming out of storage in preparation for the move. We'll also share glimpses of the new exhibition designs.


Our historians are unable to accommodate research requests or accept donated items for the collections until after the Museum move is complete. A variety of online resources are available at the Illinois Digital Archives.


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