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Arrive Curious. Leave Inspired.    

About the Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County

We are stewards. Storytellers. Educators. Explorers. We are dedicated to sharing the entwined stories of people, events and nature through exhibitions, education and community engagement. At the Dunn Museum, our passion is to explore history as a vibrant force that connects us all through time. Our vision is to encourage and inspire others to make a positive influence in their communities and our world. 

The Dunn Museum is among only five percent of museums nationally to have earned accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums, an industry mark of distinction. Operated by the Lake County Forest Preserves and located in Libertyville, Illinois, the Dunn Museum is named for Bess Bower Dunn (1877–1959), Lake County’s first official historian. Her determination to preserve the early history of Lake County demonstrates the potential of each individual to make a significant and lasting contribution to a better world—and inspires us to do the same. 

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Volunteer Opportunities

The Dunn Museum docent program provides volunteers an in-depth knowledge of the county's history. Volunteers receive the training and share that knowledge with visitors. Visitor Services volunteers greet guests while working at the Museum's reception desk. Learn more »


Contact

Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County
1899 West Winchester Road | Libertyville, IL 60048
847-968-3400

Dunn@LCFPD.org



Archived Articles | Tracking the Museum's Move to Libertyville

EVENTS

25
Jun

Summer Camp: Pint-Sized Farmers - FULL

June 25, 2018-June 29, 2018 (09:00 AM - 12:00 AM)
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Event's details

Time:09:00 AM - 12:00 AM

Throw on overalls and step into the boots of a modern-day farmer. Discover how food makes its way from farm field to your kitchen table through hands-on exploration, activities, and games. We will plant, harvest, and taste homegrown food from Bonner's organic garden.
 
30
Jun

Civil War Days: Weekend Pass

June 30, 2018-July 01, 2018
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Event's details
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History comes to life at this reenactment, featuring battles, period demonstrations, kids' activities and Civil War-era shopping.
 
30
Jun

Civil War Days (Saturday)

June 30, 2018 (10:00 AM - 05:00 PM)
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Event's details
civil-war10
Time:10:00 AM - 05:00 PM

History comes to life at this reenactment, featuring battles, period demonstrations, kids' activities and Civil War-era shopping.
 

Winter 2017 Update––Move Nearly Complete, Construction Continues

We’re entering the final phase of construction and the installation of exhibitions at the new Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County, set to open to the public on Saturday, March 24, 2018.

The new Collections Care and Storage Facility in the lower level of the Dunn Museum is complete. It offers stable environmental conditions suitable for protecting the Museum’s irreplaceable historic collections. To date we have moved the entire Lake County History Archives and a significant portion of the object collections. Work will continue over the coming months to complete the move. The Lake County History Archives includes a new public research center, which is nearly complete. Installation of a commissioned life-sized Dryptosaurus dinosaur is also nearly complete. With guidance from Native American tribe members on authenticity, the build-out of the wigwam is moving along. The wigwam will serve as an in-gallery teaching space for programs and an interactive space for visitors. Learn more »

New Education Programs

Our educators have developed new programs and field trip opportunities for all ages. Field trips provide school and scout groups interactive programs that encourage group work and critical thinking. Programming for adults, children and families includes hands-on workshops, storytelling, guided tours, lectures and seasonal events designed to engage the broader community. 

On the first and third Thursdays of every month, visitors can experience the Dunn Museum after hours. On these evenings, admission, and educational programs for adults and families, will be free after 5pm. 

Volunteer With Us

Become a Dunn Museum volunteer and help us tell Lake County’s story. Our docent program provides volunteers an in-depth knowledge of the county’s history. Volunteers receive the training and tools they need to share that knowledge with visitors. Learn more.

Read more in the winter 2017 issue of Horizons.


 

Fall 2017 Update––New Name

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.

 

Summer 2017 Update––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.

Spring 2017 Update––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 early spring 2017.

Read more in the fall 2016 issue and the spring 2017 issue of Horizons.


Support the Museum––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.