Raupp Museum set to revise Buffalo Grove’s history
Emma Golinkin shakes a carton of cream to make butter while Ethan Michaels sits behind the cow exhibit with Debbie Fandrei at the Raupp Museum. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 22, 2013 8:52AM
BUFFALO GROVE — As it turns out, a little bit of the “history” featured prominently at the Raupp Museum never actually happened.
With a grant from the state, though, museum officials are building a new exhibit that focuses exclusively on what was actually here, long ago.
“Buffalo Grove did not have a pharmacy, a bank or a stable,” museum coordinator Debbie Fandrei said while sitting in front of the pharmacy, bank and stable that for more than 25 years have been part of the Raupp’s main exhibit.
“That’s one of the things we’re changing,” she explained. “A significant amount of this never existed in Buffalo Grove.”
The museum and its operators, the Buffalo Grove Park District, are in the planning stages for building a new “Crossroads” exhibit, which will replace the feature that was known as “Town Square” to a full generation of local students who came to visit it.
Fandrei said the museum has not yet put the project out for bidding, so there is no construction timetable. When finished, Crossroads is designed to offer touring children more to walk through, touch, play with and learn from.
“You’ll be able to have more immersive experiences,” Fandrei said. “It’s a big change.”
Currently, the nearly 1,000-square-foot room offers a depiction of what towns like Buffalo Grove looked like at the dawn of the 20th Century. To localize the generalities for the 9,000 annual visitors, though, the museum put the names of some of Buffalo Grove’s founding families on businesses that represented what those times were like. Thus, students have long peered through the windows of mock-ups diagramming both the true-to-life Tripp Elementary School and the fictitious Leikam Livery Stable.
Park District officials have long sought to update the exhibit, and last March, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources made $14.9 million in grants available to museums wanting to fund projects like this. Fandrei applied for, and received, $149,250, which the museum will use to change the room from seven peer-in storefronts into three buildings that guests can walk in and play with. The buildings will range from 1910 to the 1930s, including the Weidner General Store, the Prairie View Train Station, and a yet-to-be-named greenhouse.
Once complete, visitors will be able to check out the pickup at the Standard Oil station, hear a train whistle blow, play with an old-fashioned cash register and open the pot-belly stove. The entire room will become compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Bids open in May, and the current exhibit is scheduled to close this fall, Fandrei said. The new Crossroads should be open by the summer of 2014.
“It’s going to be exciting, because I know what’s coming,” she said. “Perhaps, some of it, bittersweet. This is what people probably think of when they think of the museum. Changing that can be a little scary.
“While we appreciate that there’s over 25 years of history and affection in the museum, we’re continuing to make the exhibits better.”