This exhibit, created in celebration of the Village’s 150th anniversary, highlights milestones from Wilmette’s past. Many fun and iconic objects, stories, and documents from the Museum’s extensive collections are featured.
Fashion Forward: Wilmette’s Clothing History
Through December 2022 Lower Level
150 years of local fashion in six, twenty-five year leaps are featured in this exhibit. Come along as we travel along fashion’s fast lane, from 1872 until 1997, noting cultural shifts and technological advances which influence the everyday fabric of our lives.
Historic Gross Point Jail
The Gross Point Village Hall had it all: clerk’s office, fire department, and police department—including four jail cells. Thanks to this restoration you can find out how it felt to be locked up in one of the gloomy old basement cells. (Kids of all ages love this exhibit!)
In the adjoining cell, Early Policing in Wilmette and Gross Point features antique equipment like handcuffs and a billy club.
This corridor exhibit on the Museum’s lower level features a selection of celebrities who have called Wilmette their home. Pictures and stories illuminate the local lives of such accomplished hometown favorites as Bobbi Brown, Jens Jensen, Bill Murray and many others.
From Settlement to Suburb
On the first floor is this exhibit about the people who settled Gross Point and Wilmette in the 19th century.
Among the rare artifacts on display are the medicine bag (complete with vials!) of the Village’s first doctor, Byron Stolp, the surveyor’s compass used to lay out Wilmette’s first streets, and a phrase-book that Gross Point’s German immigrants used to help them make their way across America.
Native Americans on the North Shore
Before 19th century treaties forced them to relocate, there were Native American communities in the Wilmette area for more than 10,000 years. On display are examples of their finely crafted stone tools and ceramic objects, including the haunting “effigy head,” one of the oldest and most famous artifacts in our collection.
Don’t miss a chance to see locally made objects that are thousands of years old!
The Gross Point Village Hall’s former fire station bay features stories that help to illuminate the special character of our community and its people.
We begin with the tale of the Ouilmettes, from whom the Village got its name, and continue with tales about the controversial saloons of old Gross Point, “Made in Wilmette” stories, the long battle over “No Man’s Land,” the story behind Wilmette’s miles of brick streets, and the creation of beloved Roemer Park.
Adding to the exhibit are two special paintings created for the Village by local artist George Lusk in 1934. These enormous murals of Wilmette scenes—each painting is fourteen feet long—were out of public view for many years and are now proudly on display.