One of the attractions we were able to visit while we were in Rockford was the Midway Village Museum!
The Midway Village Museum is Rockford’s History Museum. The museum is open year round and the village is open May – August and the rest of the year by appointment.
The museum itself is over 20,000 sq ft and is full of interactive exhibits.
The exhibits they feature are:
1. Many Faces, One Community
This is Midway Village Museum’s largest ever exhibition. This major new gallery depicts the history of immigration to Rockford and how our community developed through the perseverance of immigrants from many countries and cultures. The exhibit is “touch friendly” and features the stories of immigrants to Rockford. Visitors arrive through the train depot, stroll along 7th and South Main Streets, visit a circa 1900 immigrant home, and apply for a job at the Swedish furniture factory.
My kids liked how the they could touch and feel throughout this exhibit. Our country is full of rich immigrant history and after going through this particular exhibit we really felt like this was a great depiction of how Rockford evolved into the way the city is today.
2. Queen City of the Prairies
The settlement of Rockford in 1834 happened at a time of technological and economic growth in the United States. Early Rockford was not an isolated frontier outpost, but was quickly plugged into the expanding nation.
The exhibit shares how Rockford went from a village to the center of the area’s culture and commerce in only 20 years, looking at what life was like, who settled in the community, and how choices Rockford made then still affect us today.
Visitors can also “talk” to John Thurston, an early Rockford resident, who shares his impressions of what it’s like to live in the young city in 1845 in a touch-screen interactive experience.
One of the pieces in this exhibit that I thought was particularly interesting is the United States Flag that is on display.
3. The Girls of Summer
World War II touched every part of life in the United States. This included baseball—the “national pastime.” To keep people interested in the game while many of its best players were in the army, chewing gum businessman and Chicago Cubs’ owner Philip K. Wrigley started a professional women’s baseball league. The “All-American Girls Professional Baseball League” (or AAGPBL) lasted from 1943 until 1954.
The Rockford Peaches team was one of the first four teams in the league. At its peak in 1948, the league had 10 teams across the Midwest. The Peaches was one of the league’s best teams, winning the championship 4 times. They played in Rockford for all 12 years of the league’s existence.
The exhibit The Girls of Summer: The Rockford Peaches of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League tells the story of the Peaches and their place in the League.
Who can forget the movie, “A League of Their Own”? Remember the players from the Rockford Peaches, who were members of the All American Girls Professional Baseball team? The Midway Village Museum features a very nice exhibit depicting the players! You get to see one of the original uniform plus pictures and letters.
4. The Missing Link
Come monkey around and enjoy sock monkeys, red-heeled socks, and stories about the sock knitting industry in Rockford from its beginnings in the 1870s until its end in the 1990s.
See the original patent for both the red heeled sock and the sock monkey along with the sock monkey used in the patent litigation that won Rockford its “Home of the Sock Monkey” title. This exhibit houses a diverse and unique collection of sock monkeys including Nelson, our seven foot sock monkey.
When I was growing up in the 70’s, one of my Grandmothers gave me a Sock Monkey. I had the Monkey for a number of years. I never gave it much thought except that a lot of people had them. Little did I know the Sock Monkey had been around for years.
6. Industrial Gallery
The development of Midway Village Museum started in 1974. Northern Illinois town end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.
26 historical structures and 10 gardens.