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Sophisticated exhibits tell region’s story

Sunday marks the grand opening for two new exhibits at the Dixon Historic Center that detail the lives of Native Americans and early settlers. We encourage the public to attend.

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 1:15 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Jan. 25, 2013 2:36 p.m. CST
(Michael Krabbenhoeft/
A mannequin of a young Black Hawk (left) stands next to his father in the new “The Unchanged Land” exhibit at the Dixon Historic Center.

The Black Hawk War in 1832 was a watershed event for the Sauk Valley region.

Before the war, the Sauk tribe inhabited much of northern Illinois, including this area. Settlers were few and far between.

After the war, the decimated Sauk were banished from Illinois and forced to move westward. Settlers began to flood the region.

Two new exhibits on the second floor of the Dixon Historic Center portray that pivotal period.

One is titled "The Unchanged Land," which focuses on the pre-war era and the war itself. The other is titled "The Changing Land," which tells the story of post-war settlement activities and farming.

The $1.6 million exhibits, which took 2 years to create, were initiated and paid for by Norm Wymbs in honor of his late wife, Harriet, who died in 2009. The Wymbses, friends of President Ronald Reagan, were a driving factor in acquiring and restoring the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home and the Dixon Historic Center, which used to be South Central School.

Museum Director Bill Jones used the word "incredible" to describe the exhibits, which feature mannequins, murals, sound and mirrors.

"Everything was done with the greatest attention to detail," Jones said.

The exhibits' grand opening will be from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the museum, 205 W. Fifth St. Mark your calendar now and make it a point to attend.

Displays such as these are what one would expect to see in a metropolitan museum. They do justice to a pivotal time in local history and to a remarkable and generous woman.

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