For a change of pace, why not turn back the clock and explore 19th century life and culture in northern Illinois? Events at Midway Village Museum make it possible this fall.
The museum will extend its Victorian Village tours through Saturday, Oct. 31, to give people more opportunities to visit the museum grounds, says Marketing and Social Media Director Lonna Converso. The tour season normally ends in August.
“We decided to look at all our programming and see how we can offer people in our community history education while adhering to the COVID-19 modifications. Every part of our operation was looked at and modified for public safety, without minimizing the quality experience people have come to know and expect,” she says.
In addition to following all State of Illinois and local government mandates, the museum also is taking part in a community-wide initiative titled “Clean Hands,” to help protect staff and visitors from COVID-19 infection. Tour groups will be limited to nine or 10 people and all visitors must wear face masks and practice social distancing while on the grounds. Hand sanitizer will be available; all staff is undergoing daily temperature and wellness checks; and guides will be wearing masks and gloves.
Costumed history interpreters in period clothing will lead small groups through the 13-acre Victorian Village with its 26 historic buildings representing northern Illinois from 1890 to 1910.
The tours begin on the hour, with the last one at 3 p.m., from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. most Saturdays and Sundays through October and on Fridays Sept. 18 and Oct. 16. There will be no tours on Saturday, Oct. 17. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for children (3-17) and free to members and infants. Purchase them online at midwayvillage.com or call (815) 397-9112. Reservations are required. Walk-ins will be served on a first-come, first-served basis.
All Hallows’ Eve will be a drive-thru event this year from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17. Each car will visit up to 20 trick-or-treat stops hosted by local businesses and other organizations. Visitors must stay in their cars and are encouraged to dress up in family-friendly costumes and decorate their cars. Cars will enter at the recreation path on Guilford Road and be directed by staff. Halloween tunes will play on 100 FM radio. Admission is $5 at the gate, with no pre-admission sales, and includes three trick-or-treat bags. Additional bags can be purchased for $2 each. Volunteers will place candy only into the museum bags. Join an Instagram costume parade for a chance to win a Sock Monkey Doll and tune into a Halloween Spotify playlist during the event.
Experience the darker side of Victorian life at An Evening of Illumination, from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30. Learn how “dying to be beautiful” was true in the Victorian era; attend a Victorian mummy unwrapping party; visit a Victorian wake and learn about mourning customs; join an Emily Dickinson re-enactor and hear some of her darkest poetry; learn about the history of the casket industry and how it had developed by the late 19th century; and try to contact the dead with true believer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and debunk seances with his friend Harry Houdini. The event for those 16 and older will be guided by lantern light and participants will walk the village and visit seven 15-minute interactive stations. Cost is $12 per person and $10 for museum members.
New this year is a digital version of the popular World War II Days military re-enactment, available Sept. 25 through Oct. 25. Access to 20 videos, each about seven minutes long, costs $5 per person and $2 for students, and they’re delivered on a private Facebook page once you register. If you’re not on Facebook, YouTube video links will be emailed after payment. The videos produced by museum staff and re-enactors will highlight many aspects of World War II, including information about artifacts, military units, uniforms and interviews with re-enactors.
“We hope people will learn about the different aspects of World War II and how it impacted life for the soldier and the civilian,” says Converso.
Also new at the museum is an affiliation with Amazon’s Smile program. People can show their support for Midway Village by choosing the museum as their charity of choice on Smile.Amazon.com, where a percentage of all sales goes to designated charities.
For more information about upcoming fall events, call the museum at (815) 397-9112 or go to its social media pages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube. ❚