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Elgin History Museum, Elgin

#5 of 9 in Things to do in Elgin
The Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Through permanent and changing exhibits, the museum brings to life Elgin's rich heritage.

The first floor is dedicated to the telling of Elgin's history from its founding to its role into the 20th century. Various exhibit rooms explore Elgin's pioneer past, the importance of the Fox River, the railroads and the Elgin National Watch Company. Various hands on activities for all ages can help children and adults alike make a link with Elgin's past.

The second floor is dedicated on its east wing to the Elgin National Watch factory room which is a permanent exhibit that speaks to the history of an important industry that put Elgin on the map. While walking the second floor check out our rotating exhibits that highlight special features noted on the first floor. Two great examples are Elgin architecture and the important Hiawatha Pagent that entranced generations of Elginites. The main portion of the west wing of the second floor is meeting hall and exhibit space. This space is deticated to dual purposes and is home for various programs and at times meeting space for the historical society.

The third floor is home to the Carl Reber Research Library and houses a vast object and photograph archive collection. This is also the offices of the museum with a dedicated and passionate core made up of staff and volunteers. If you are interested in doing research related to Elgin this is the place you can come after making an appointment with the staff so they can have everything ready you need at your fingertips.
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Elgin History Museum Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
22 reviews
  • This small but interesting venue offers a wide variety of local history. The watch company is by far the best part, but not the only thing they offer. Well worth spending a few hours if you are at all...  more »
  • This museum had a good collection of local history items and interesting information. While I don't have any real tie to Elgin (was there for business), I still found it very interesting because the s...  more »
  • One of the Best museums Elgin has to offer. You can explore for hours every time and still come away with new information. The staff is knowledgeable and courteous and the curator is World class. Necessary in a town with Elgin's rich history.
  • My husband and I decided to visit the museum this afternoon- it was cold, rainy, no good movies playing. AND it was a place I'd wanted to visit for awhile. I love the history of how towns were developed. What a pleasant surprise. There was much more to see than I'd imagined. Fantastic old photos and maps of early Elgin. We found the street where my husband lived as a young boy and saw how undeveloped it was then. We'll come back for another visit - we both loved learning about the Gifford's, Kimball's, and other founding fathers.

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