LIBERTYVILLE – The Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County recently celebrated its five-year anniversary by offering free admission to visitors with the donation of a nonperishable food item or toiletry.
Collected items benefited the Libertyville Township Food Pantry.
Almost 2,000 people visited from March 25 to April 2, a 20% increase over spring break week last year. More than 2,200 pounds of food was collected for the food pantry.
“The generosity of the visitors over this past week has been amazing,” said museum operations manager Alicia Fullerton, who coordinated the effort with the food pantry. “People brought in bags of food. If you break it down, each visitor brought in a pound of food or toiletries.”
“This food drive was incredible and exceeded all our expectations,” Libertyville Township Supervisor Kathleen O’Connor said. “The current economy has doubled the number of households that are in need in this area.”
The celebration brought many people who had not been to the museum before.
“It really was a win-win situation,” Fullerton said. “We heard so many positive comments.”
The museum shares the entwined stories of Lake County people, events and nature through exhibitions, education and community engagement.
“The museum covers a lot of history, from prehistoric to the present time,” said Sheryl Becker, who brought her daughter and a friend.
“I loved the museum. My favorite part was the boat,” 9-year-old Rachel Becker said.
“It was our first time here,” Brielle Fettner said.
“I enjoyed the variety of the historical exhibits,” said Bridgette Labissiere, who brought her three children.
“I liked the dinosaur the best,” said Chris, 5.
Labissiere learned of the celebration through a mom’s group.
“I liked the one-room schoolhouse and the old military uniforms. My husband is military,” she said.
“Our visit was fascinating,” said Shaina Kriese, who came with her sister, Tamara Feldman, a third grade teacher in Waukegan.
“We are nature and history buffs,” said Kriese, who brought her children. Violet, 5, liked the dinosaur. Levi, 4, enjoyed the fossil teeth and bones.
The museum, which has operated in Libertyville for five years, is named in honor of Lake County’s first official historian, Bess Bower Dunn (1877–1959). Her determination to preserve the early history of Lake County resulted in a significant and lasting contribution and one of the best cultural offerings in the Chicago area. The Lake County Forest Preserves, which operates the museum, is continuing her mission and sharing her innovative spirit with visitors of all ages.
For those who didn’t get a chance to visit over spring break, the museum offers free admission on the first and third Thursdays of every month from 5 to 8 p.m. Plan your visit at LCFPD.org/planyourvisit.