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updated: 4/30/2016 5:22 AM

Preservationist questions Discovery Museum relocation

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  • The Lake County Discovery Museum is now in the Lakewood Forest Preserve near Wauconda, but beginning in the fall it is scheduled to be moved to forest preserve headquarters in Libertyville.

      The Lake County Discovery Museum is now in the Lakewood Forest Preserve near Wauconda, but beginning in the fall it is scheduled to be moved to forest preserve headquarters in Libertyville.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 

Lake Barrington resident Nancy Schumm realizes the horse is out of the barn, so to speak, but she plans to ask officials to reconsider moving the Lake County Discovery Museum from its longtime home in a former farm building.

Schumm, a barn expert who runs a historical/environmental consulting service, questions the rationale of moving the museum from Lakewood Forest Preserve near Wauconda to the Lake County Forest Preserve District headquarters in a Libertyville office building.

"It's a cultural icon for people who grew up here," she said. "We have a really cool hands-on museum for the community." Lakewood is in a "unique and beautiful setting" in contrast to an office building "devoid of any cultural integrity," she added.

District officials say they are committed to the move and any change in direction is unlikely. Schumm plans to air her views Monday during a joint meeting of the three forest board committees beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the operations and public safety facility, 19808 W. Grand Ave., Lindenhurst.

No museum-related items are on the agenda and Schumm will address the commissioners during the public comment portion of the meeting. Discussion of the 2016-17 budget, which begins July 1, is the main scheduled item for discussion.

The museum is housed in buildings developed in the 1930s as Lakewood Farms and sold to the forest district in the 1960s. Schumm led an effort to have the buildings listed last month on Landmark Illinois' 2016 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois.

"I know it's a pipe dream, but nothing is impossible, is it?" she said. "The reason I'm doing this is because no one else stepped up. People are afraid."

She suggests the buildings and complex be kept intact, but even Landmarks Illinois said that would require public/private partnerships.

A study of all district facilities a few years ago estimated the cost of maintenance, repair and construction for the Lakewood buildings at $3.8 million to $15.4 million.

Relocating will provide more exhibit space.

"The key benefit of the move is the improved storage of the collections," said Nan Buckardt, the district's education director. "We want to protect these treasures that preserve Lake County's story."

Space is being cleared in the basement of the general office, where the collections will be stored. The board's committee meeting room on the first floor has been relocated as part of the prep work to house the museum.

The Lakewood facility will be closed Sept. 1 for the move, which is expected to take about a year. The $1.6 million budget does not include $750,000 in state grant money that has been withheld.

Forest board President Ann Maine said no master planning has been done for Lakewood and it is possible some buildings could be repurposed. Keeping the museum where it is would be too costly, Maine said.

@dhmickzawislak

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