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Who We Are

Exhibition Wins National Award

August 12, 2022 09:27 AM

Our Voice is Black History: Past, Present, Future,” a special exhibition that ran last year virtually and in-person at the Bess Bower Dunn Museum in Libertyville, recently earned national recognition. 

The National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials (NACPRO) comprises 117 park and special recreation districts from across the country, of which the Lake County Forest Preserves is a member organization. The association issued the coveted honor.

The exhibition was a collaboration between the Dunn Museum and the College of Lake County’s Black Student Union (CLC). It examined and explored multigenerational stories and experiences through graphic design, poetry, writing, art and video interviews that portray the voice of African Americans' past and present.  

"We're thrilled that such a prestigious organization recognized this powerful exhibition," said Angelo Kyle, president of the Lake County Forest Preserves. "I am proud of the dedicated, talented students and staff that put this project together." 

The exhibition was first on display virtually during the pandemic. It then opened for in-person viewing in July 2021 and ran through the end of October at the Dunn Museum, operated by the Lake County Forest Preserves. The nationally accredited Dunn Museum–a distinction held by only 3% of American museums–cares for a treasure trove of history about our region.

A team comprised of staff from CLC and the Dunn Museum envisioned the various aspects of the project. One piece was an art contest for CLC students. Original art pieces were used for the exhibition and in a book CLC published. Students were able to express themselves through their artwork. 

CLC students, with the support of Dunn Museum staff, interviewed prominent Black leaders in the community to gain perspective. Three mayors, serving in office at the time, were among those interviewed including: Sam Cunningham of Waukegan, Leon Rockingham, Jr. of North Chicago and Billy McKinney of Zion. Interviews covered everything from the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter. A professional videographer was hired to document the interviews and help turn them into polished products to go on display virtually and as part of the in-person experience. 

The in-person exhibit connected the students' work with events that took place in Lake County over the year prior. Newspaper photographs and news stories about local marches, protests and other events helped provide context for their artwork. Educational materials and programs were part of the exhibition as well.

The exhibition and related programming were sponsored by the Preservation Foundation, the charitable partner of the Lake County Forest Preserves, with additional support provided by USG.