Batavia Depot Museum offers two new back-to-school exhibits on local history

Back-to-school season is almost upon us, and the Batavia Depot Museum celebrates this timely tradition with two new temporary exhibits paying homage to local schools. "What's in a Name?: Batavia Schools" showcases the legacies of notable Batavia educators and "Batavia Hair: Picture Day Edition" is a history of hairstyles dating back to the 1800s.

The Depot Museum at 155 Houston St. will host a public opening reception for these exhibits on Friday, Aug. 4, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Jessica Meis, Depot Museum curator, arranges artifacts for the new "What's in a Name" exhibit opening Aug. 4 at the Batavia Depot Museum. Courtesy of Batavia Depot Museum

"What's in a Name" tells the stories of beloved Batavia educators for whom schools were named. From Grace McWayne to Sam Rotolo, these teachers were everyday working-class men and women who were dedicated to making life better for Batavia families. They made such a difference to generations of students that their impact is still honored today.

Some Depot Museum visitors may remember Bill Wood, Rotolo, Eldora Hoover and others. The exhibit will give Batavians the opportunity to share facts and stories about other remarkable people and their quiet dedication to local education. The original Batavia Bulldog costume will be on display, and selfies will be encouraged.

"This exhibit is a great way to get a taste of what really makes the Batavia spirit so special," said Kate Garrett, museum director.

"Batavia Hair: Picture Day Edition" is a history of hairstyles worn by local Batavians since the 1800s. "Hair is an important part of self-expression and I wanted to celebrate how Batavians have chosen to express themselves and their identity," said Jessica Meis, museum curator.

The exhibit features iconic hairstyles pulled from a century (approximately 1910-2010s) of Batavia High School yearbooks and an homage to local hair professionals that made some of these hairstyles possible. "Batavia Hair" is a body-positivity message for all ages about expressing yourself through your hairstyle.

Admission is free. Museum hours are 2 to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Get a first look at the "What's in a Name?: Batavia Schools Edition" at an opening reception on Friday, Aug. 4, at the Batavia Depot Museum. Courtesy of Batavia Depot Museum

It opened in 1975 as a cooperative effort between the Batavia Park District and the Batavia Historical Society. Housed inside the retired Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad Depot, which was the first of its kind built in 1854, is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. Inside, the city's past comes alive through exhibits detailing the history of rail transportation, manufacture of windmills, agriculture, banking, commerce and a brief stay by Mary Todd Lincoln at Bellevue Place.

For more information on our Batavia Park District programs and events, call (630) 879-5235 or visit

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