Elmhurst looks to re-imagine, update history museum

The Elmhurst History Museum may make some history of its own as it takes the first steps toward re-imagining and updating its public and support spaces to increase efficiencies and better serve the public.

No specific plans are in the works, Executive Director Dave Oberg said, but city officials want to hire an architectural firm to conduct a needs analysis of the Glos Mansion that houses the museum along with its education center, the land around the building and its off-site storage space.

"We're taking a step here to look a little bit at what we have ... to think a little bit about how we might use it more efficiently and to think about changes we might make to make the place more physically and intellectually accessible," Oberg said.

Among other items, officials hope to look at updating the museum's climate control and accessibility, improving its signage and considering changes to support outdoor programming.

The city council's public affairs and safety committee on Monday recommended approval of a proposal from the Prairie Forge Group to study the museum and make recommendations for improvements. The study would cost a maximum of $60,000.

The full council is expected to vote on the proposal June 18.

Officials said they considered four firms for the work and rated them in seven categories, including experience with similar projects.

Hiring an architect is part of the museum's strategic plan, which also includes history engagement, community involvement, stewardship of facilities and brand and communication.

"We want to be good stewards of the property and the collections that are trusted to us for public good, and this is really a chance to kind of take a step back and take a wholistic look at the entire museum campus that we have here," Oberg said. "I'm excited to see what suggestions come out of this long term because that's going to help point us in some interesting directions for many years."

The Glos Mansion was built in 1893 for the city's first president, Henry Glos, and his wife, Lucy.

The museum at 120 E. Park Ave. contains roughly 15,000 three-dimensional artifacts, 500 books and more than 10,000 historic photos.

David Oberg