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Congrats to revamped museum

During the past year, nearly 14,000 people toured new interactive displays at the Northwest Territory Historic Center. Kudos to museum management. We encourage more area residents to visit.

Published: Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, March 24, 2014 8:12 a.m. CDT

You never know what you'll discover at a museum.

In the past year, nearly 14,000 visitors have discovered a lot about the Northwest Territory at the former Dixon Historic Center, now known as the Northwest Territory Historic Center.

That's the number of people who have toured the top-flight interactive exhibits, which cost $1.6 million and were officially opened a year ago at the museum, 205 W. Fifth St., Dixon.

Illinois was part of the Northwest Territory, established in 1787 by Congress and also encompassing modern-day Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin.

The exhibits have detailed sets, sound effects, and life-sized, speaking mannequins. The stories of Black Hawk, Native American life, and early settlement life in the Northwest Territory are told.

Visitors may also discover a lot about Ronald Reagan, the 40th president who attended classes in the three-story museum building, which once was a school. The museum devotes a former classroom and other areas to Reagan.

Monday's Sauk Valley Media story about the museum intrigued us in an additional way.

Who knew that a map of Antarctica, signed by famed explorer Richard Byrd, had a connection to the region?

Well, former Dixon resident Charles Walgreen, founder of the Walgreen drug store chain, financed two of Byrd's Antarctic expeditions, in 1933-35 and 1939-41. In gratitude, Byrd named a region of western Antarctica as the Walgreen Coast, which his second expedition discovered in 1940.

What do you know? A coastline at the bottom of the world has a connection to the Sauk Valley!

We continue to be impressed by the advances made at the Northwest Territory Historic Center.

We congratulate Bill Jones, the museum's manager and president, for his leadership, as well as Norm Wymbs, who generously funded the new exhibit.

And we encourage area residents to follow the well-worn path, already tread by 14,000, to visit this fine exhibit within a fine museum. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Enter this museum with an inquiring mind. You never know what you'll discover there.

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