Mundelein taking over Fort Hill museum operations

  • Women's clothing from the early 1900s is part of the collection at the Fort Hill Historical Museum in Mundelein. The village will oversee museum operations under a new deal with the Mundelein Park & Recreation District, which owns the building.

    Women's clothing from the early 1900s is part of the collection at the Fort Hill Historical Museum in Mundelein. The village will oversee museum operations under a new deal with the Mundelein Park & Recreation District, which owns the building. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer, 2016

 
 
Updated 8/30/2019 12:40 PM

Mundelein's historical commission will operate the local Fort Hill Heritage Museum under a pact with the Mundelein Park & Recreation District.

The park district, however, will fully fund those operations.

 

The museum, at 601 E. Noel Drive, is a hodgepodge collection of maps, pioneer tools, military memorabilia and other regional artifacts. Open since 1987, it's housed in a former train depot owned by the park district.

The museum had been run by a nonprofit group called the Historical Society of the Fort Hill Country. That group owns the museum's contents.

Unfortunately, the museum has floundered since society leader Dottie Watson's death last year.

The group's board has dwindled to two members, and it's in the process of disbanding, said Mike Flynn, the leader of a separate Mundelein historical commission created earlier this year by the village board.

The museum had limited hours before Watson died and essentially has been closed to the public since she passed.

"We have had a few people call, and we've given personal tours," park district Executive Director Margaret Resnick said.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The new agreement between the village and park district aims to keep the museum alive. The village board approved the deal Monday; the park district board greenlit the pact in July.

Under the five-year contract, the historical commission will manage the collection, serving both as an informal board of directors and curator, Flynn said. The park district will continue owning and maintaining the building, and it will create a fund to pay for operations.

The village will pay the park district a one-time, $1 licensing fee. Resnick will serve as a liaison to the commission.

If the original society dissolves as expected, the museum's contents will be donated to the park district under their long-standing deal.

The remaining society members are talking with parks officials about transferring ownership, Flynn said.

Flynn's commission is creating an inventory of the items in the collection at the park district's behest. It must be completed before the district accepts the collection and before the museum reopens.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"That's a daunting task," Flynn said. "There are thousands of objects."

Selling any of the objects from the original collection would violate the pact, Flynn said. Items acquired later can be sold, he said.

Flynn's group initially had hoped to reopen the museum this fall, but that won't happen because of the inventory project and other work, including creating new exhibits and programs.

Mayor Steve Lentz lauded the commission's work and the new pact, saying it "goes a long way to having that museum be a vibrant part of our community."

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.