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Isle a la Cache hosts Smithsonian ‘Journey Stories’ exhibition on the history of migration

(Photo courtesy of the Church Archives, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Step into an explorer’s shoes, create your own travel journal or pedal the I&M Canal Trail as Isle a la Cache Museum hosts a Smithsonian Institution “Journey Stories” Exhibition that focuses on how movement has shaped the nation. 

The exhibition opens Wednesday, Feb. 1, and runs through Sunday, April 30. "Journey Stories" takes a broad look at American expansion and migration, from the earliest European settlers and Native American displacement to the effects of transportation advancements on modern mobility.

Isle a la Cache Museum staff have created 10 complementary programs that will run from February through April to tap into the exhibition's themes. (See below.)

The museum is located at 501 E. Romeo Road (135th Street), Romeoville, and hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sundays, noon to 4 p.m. and closed Mondays. The exhibition is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and brought to the museum through funding provided by The Nature Foundation of Will County.

Patchwork of tales

The exhibition uses a set of seven posters to encourage dialogue, engagement and participation in classrooms and communities on how movement has defined America. 

America and its history are a patchwork of many tales which have been woven over time from the voyages of people – both voluntary and involuntary – who traveled from city-to-city, state-to-state and around the world. The posters detail Western expansion and Native American displacement, African American migration from the Deep South, and important developments in transportation technology.

"'Journey Stories' features a topic most people have personal experience with or know those who do," said Tina Riley, facility supervisor at Isle a la Cache. "Anyone who has ever moved for a better opportunity – whether for school, work, climate, or housing – knows that those moves can shape your entire lifetime.

"The exhibition highlights some of the major shifts in the history of the U.S., when large groups of people moved for various reasons," Riley added. "It helps us reflect on the experience of our ancestors, as well as our own mobility, something we often take for granted. Where you live is important; how you got there can be an interesting story!"

The exhibition will include hands-on opportunities, including children's activities in the library.

"And all visitors will have a chance to respond to questions about their own journey stories," Riley said. "These interactive opportunities are always a highlight for staff and visitors alike."

In addition to the Smithsonian posters, Isle a la Cache Museum staff have added exhibit panels to the exhibition that help connect local Will County stories to the national topics covered by the Smithsonian.

"We look forward to hearing more local stories from visitors during the exhibition," Riley said. 

Complementary programs

In addition to the posters and exhibit panels, museum staff have created many complementary programs that will provoke thought and discussion on these topics. 

Here are the related “Journey Stories” programs. Those that are highlighted are currently posted to the Event Calendar with more details, including age restrictions, registration information and deadlines. The remaining programs will be added to the Event Calendar in a few weeks. The free programs are held at Isle a la Cache unless otherwise noted. 

Quest – A Joliet and Marquette Adventure for Adults: 2-3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18. What choices would you make if you were in the shoes of explorers such as Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, who explored the heart of North America in the 1600s? This is a choose-your-own adventure, trivia-style indoor game.

Journaling Journeys: noon-1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25. Thoughts recorded in personal travel journals helped document historical events for centuries. Try your hand at creating a journal and try writing with a quill and ink and then take a short, journal-worthy hike. 

Forest Bathing: 1-2:30 p.m. Saturday, March 4. Meet at the museum to learn this Japanese method of being calm and quiet among the trees, and then venture to a forested shoreline trail. Sit and observe nature while breathing deeply to help de-stress and boost health and well-being. Afterward, enjoy tea and take time to explore the Smithsonian exhibition, “Journey Stories.”

Riverview Farmstead Tour: 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 11, Riverview Farmstead Preserve, Naperville. Discover how the Clow family journeyed to Wheatland Township and built their farm business over three generations. The program includes a tour of the preserve’s 19th-century buildings.

Living History Encounter – Voyageur’s Travels: noon-3 p.m. Sunday, March 12. In honor of Isle a la Cache Museum hosting the Smithsonian exhibition “Journey Stories,” discover the adventures of French voyageurs as they travel the river roads. 

Postcard Palooza: noon-3 p.m. Sunday, March 19. Drop in to learn a brief history of postcards and then create your own! After you decorate a postcard, view the on-loan Smithsonian exhibition “Journey Stories” to see vintage postcards and learn how and why past Illinoisans traveled. 

Beaver’s Journey: 1-2 p.m. Sunday, April 2. Learn how beavers have been on a journey of recovery after the fur trade almost wiped them out, and then go for a short walk to find evidence of beavers shaping the island habitat. 

History at Home – Canal Era (Zoom webinar): 6-7 p.m. Tuesday, April 11, online. Sail through the short history of the Canal Era with an interpretive naturalist and learn about the original highway system. 

Joliet Iron Works Tour: 2-3:30 p.m. Saturday, April 15, Joliet Iron Works Historic Site, Joliet. Explore the stone foundations of Joliet’s once thriving industrial plant. An interpretive naturalist will share the fascinating stories of the men and machines that worked at the site.

Bike and Brake for History: 9-11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 29, Gaylord Building in Lockport to the Joliet Iron Works Historic Site. Pedal through time as we ride along the Illinois & Michigan Canal! An interpretive naturalist will share the origins of the water highway and its impact on Will County while guiding the group down the Gaylord Donnelley Trail to visit a former hot spot of industry.


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