Chesterton museum offers fresh look at history
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent May 24, 2014 6:16PM
Kris Livovich, center, and her sons Del, 6, front, and Mikey, 8, look over an exhibit of items from Chesterton High School Saturday during the opening reception for the newly renovated Westchester Township History Museum in Chesterton. | Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 26, 2014 6:16AM
CHESTERTON — Del Livovich, 6, checked out an abacus before he and his brother, Mikey, moved on to look at old items from Chesterton High School, including a bullhorn.
Mom Kris Livovich explained to the boys that the bullhorn, in a display case at the newly renovated Westchester Township History Museum on Saturday, would be used to yell to the crowd at a football game.
Livovich, of Chesterton, said her children come to the museum for summer history camp. She was impressed with the revamped exhibits.
“Oh, it’s gorgeous. We love it,” she said, adding she particularly liked the “Little Eva” icons throughout the exhibits, which point out fun facts about Westchester Township. “It keeps their interest.”
Dozens of people showed up at the museum Saturday for a reception for the renovated museum space, which museum curator Serena Sutliff said offers updated information — past exhibits only went through 1981 — and “more visually interesting” exhibits.
Sutliff said museum board member Michele Corazzo approached her at the end of 2012 about remodeling the museum, located within Brown Mansion, just months after she started as curator.
The museum closed in September when the work began, though a preview area opened in March. Museum staff wrote all the content and Grossbauer Group, a Chesterton advertising firm, handled the graphic design and the colors, which Sutliff said reflect the dunes.
“We really wanted to update it but weren’t sure how to work with the space,” she said, adding the museum funded the work within its budget, which comes from taxes.
The museum was created in 1998 by Westchester Public Library and moved to Brown Mansion in 2005.
“After 15 years, the permanent exhibits really needed to be redone, and I’m so glad they had the finances to do it,” said Jane Walsh-Brown, the museum’s founder and former curator and assistant director. “It’s true to the history.”
Duneland School Corp. owns the building — it once housed the its administrative offices — and the museum continues the educational link between the two entities, said Ralph Ayres, president of the Duneland School Board and a former state representative.
“It’s a great partnership in that it continues an educational mission, which the schools are pleased with,” he said. “It elevates the heritage of the community.”