Disasters in Elgin and beyond? This museum crawl will provide a look back at them

  • The 1881 Chicago Street bridge collapse over the Fox River will be one of the catastrophes on display on Aug. 26 during the Elgin Museum Crawl.

    The 1881 Chicago Street bridge collapse over the Fox River will be one of the catastrophes on display on Aug. 26 during the Elgin Museum Crawl. Courtesy of the Elgin History Museum

  • The 1920 tornado disaster in Elgin will be highlighted at the Elgin History Museum during the first Elgin Museum Crawl.

    The 1920 tornado disaster in Elgin will be highlighted at the Elgin History Museum during the first Elgin Museum Crawl. Courtesy of the Elgin History Museum

  • Elgin Fire Barn No. 5 Museum will be among four Elgin institutions participating in the first Elgin Museum Crawl on Aug. 26.

      Elgin Fire Barn No. 5 Museum will be among four Elgin institutions participating in the first Elgin Museum Crawl on Aug. 26. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • The Elgin Public Museum will be one of four stops on the Elgin Museum Crawl.

      The Elgin Public Museum will be one of four stops on the Elgin Museum Crawl. Rick West | Staff Photographer/2021

  • The U-46 Planetarium will be among four Elgin institutions participating in the first Elgin Museum Crawl on Aug. 26.

      The U-46 Planetarium will be among four Elgin institutions participating in the first Elgin Museum Crawl on Aug. 26. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • The Elgin History Museum will be among four Elgin institutions participating in the first Elgin Museum Crawl.

      The Elgin History Museum will be among four Elgin institutions participating in the first Elgin Museum Crawl. Rick West | Staff Photographer/2020

 
 
Updated 8/19/2022 12:38 PM

Four Elgin institutions are working together to plan a catastrophic night -- but in a good way.

The Elgin History Museum, Elgin Public Museum, Fire Barn No. 5 Museum and the Elgin Area School District U-46 Planetarium are hosting the first Elgin Museum Crawl featuring a theme of catastrophes on scales from local to global.

 

Elgin Public Museum Director Sharry Lynn Blazier said she was looking for a theme that all four organizations have in common.

"There's certainly an element of catastrophe in all history," she said. "And it's human nature to be interested in it."

The crawl will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26, before the city's "End of Summer Bash" fireworks event. All the locations will be free during the crawl. But registration is encouraged, and donations will be accepted.

Attendees will be given a "passport" to be stamped at each location, which can be visited in any order. Once all four are stamped, the passport can be entered into a drawing for a prize basket.

Elizabeth Marston, director of the Elgin History Museum, said organizers came up with the idea after Open Elgin, an annual self-guided architectural tour of 40 to 50 Elgin buildings, was canceled again this year.

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"We thought this would be a great opportunity to highlight each of our institutions," Marston said. "Our history is what makes us different from other communities."

Catastrophe highlights from each location include:

• The Palm Sunday tornado of 1920 and Fox River floods -- Elgin History Museum, 360 Park St.

• Earthquakes, extinctions, and the creepy mystery of the murderer's birds -- Elgin Public Museum, 225 Grand Blvd.

• The Rialto Theater fire of the 1950s and other Elgin infernos -- Fire Barn No. 5 Museum, 533 St. Charles St.

• The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs -- U-46 Planetarium, 312 Watch St.

Marston said a city of Elgin's size having a planetarium and three museums that are private/public partnerships is unique.

"It gives visitors and residents a real sense of place and pride in the community," she said.

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