With an emphasis on safety, Midway Museum Village has re-opened its doors to visitors and will offer a string of summer programs and events. It’s also celebrating a new grant that will allow it to restore the Old Stone School in the Victorian Village, a popular stopping point for local students on field trips.
Tours of the turn-of-the-century Victorian Village are offered on the hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, including July 4th. Interpreter-led groups of no more than 10 people will walk through the 13-acre village, reminiscing about life in the early1900s. There are 26 historic buildings representing various aspects of life in northern Illinois, many of them relocated to the museum from around the region.
Museum guests must wear face masks and practice social distancing while on the grounds, says Lonna Converso, marketing and social media director. Hand sanitizer is available and the staff is taking part in daily temperature and wellness checks. History guides will be wearing masks and gloves.
“We’ve taken the time to evaluate operations and put new safety measures in place as they relate to COVID-19 mandates by the State of Illinois, for everyone’s benefit,” says Converso.
Reserve a place in a tour online or by phone. You can also take your chances as a walk-in and go on the next available tour. You’re welcome to browse the many indoor museum displays while you wait, also from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays.
Celebrate Victory Day
A Victory Day Celebration commemorating the end of World War II is set for Friday, July 31. Guests can choose from two seatings of 50 people each, unless restrictions change, Converso says. The outdoor fundraiser will include dining, a silent auction, music, a 50/50 raffle and a variety of exhibits related to World War II.
“The end of World War II marked a significant point in history and we’re glad to highlight the 75th anniversary and take a moment to recognize its significance, in particular, with all the recent headlines in the world today,” Converso says.
At this time, the museum still plans to host its very popular World War II Days on Sept. 19 & 20, an annual reenactment that’s one of the largest of its kind in the nation.
Summer Mini Camps
In other museum programs, the History’s Mysteries Summer Mini-Camps for children in kindergarten through fifth grade will take place from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays, July 7-Aug. 11. As mini-camps fill up, additional sessions will be scheduled. Pre-registration is required by 4 p.m. Sunday prior to that week’s program. The camp is offered as an alternative to traditional week-long camps.
“The children will learn history concepts geared to their age, while also gaining friends and social skills,” says Converso. “They’ll also do take-home projects that are meant to start conversations.”
Children will learn about criminal investigation techniques during the Victorian era; how to create great works of art; traditional folklore from around the world; various cultures and faraway places; how Victorians recycled; and will participate in some of the “dirty” jobs of the past.
In April, the museum received a $6,000 grant from the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), which will be used to renovate the exterior of the Old Stone School. The work includes repairing damage to the trim and wood siding, repair and replacement of window screens and sills, new entry steps and posts, and repainting, according to DAR Rockford Chapter Regent Martha Byrnes. The local chapter is observing its 125th anniversary.
Byrnes says natural aging and weather have caused some decay of the 1902 schoolhouse, which was moved to the site from Byron, Ill., in 1975.
The school is a popular field trip destination for school-age children as they learn what it was like to be a student in the early 1900s. One-room schools were common here and in the rural U.S.
Both Rockford and Asa Cottrell (Belvidere) DAR chapters worked to obtain the grant and have many members who regularly volunteer at the museum, says Byrnes. The DA is a lineage-based service organization for women who are direct descendants of those who fought for the country’s independence. A non-profit group, they promote historic preservation, education and patriotism.
Appointments are being taken for individuals who want to schedule a tour when planning a wedding or other event. The museum gift store is open, too.
For all special events, pre-registration is required. The museum encourages cashless transactions. Make reservations and purchase tickets online at midwayvillage.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the gift shop by calling (815) 397-9112. ❚