Western Springs woman keeps Hinsdale history
Grace Pekar, curator of the Hinsdale History Museum, shows a group of Girl Scouts an old newspaper during a tour of the museum, at 15 S. Clay St., on Feb. 1 | Kimberly Fornek—Sun-Times Media
Grew up in: Stickney
Moved to: Western Springs about eight years ago
High school: Trinity in River Forest
College: Bachelor of arts in history and journalism
Continuing Education: Working on her master’s degree in public history at Loyola University
Employment: Curator at Hinsdale History Museum, 15 S. Clay St., (630) 789-2600 or hinsdalehistory.org.
Updated: April 15, 2013 2:09AM
HINSDALE — Grace Pekar, 24, of Western Springs, curator of the Hinsdale Historical Museum, enjoys the variety of her work: protecting and displaying the museum collection, teaching students the local history and developing museum programs for children and adults.
Q: What is an interesting fact about Hinsdale history that many people may not know?
A: How important the railroad was in developing the western suburbs. In the late 1850s, a lot of places petitioned the Chicago Burlington & Quincy railroad to go through their towns. Farmers wanted to get the railroad because it made getting their crops and cows to market easier. Even before they started building it, investors and other businessmen were buying land because they knew it was going to be something big.
Q: During college, did you hope to be a museum curator?
A: As part of my journalism degree, I got a free internship in marketing at the Swedish American Museum on Chicago’s North Side, doing writing projects for them. Then they hired me as the marketing assistant to the (public relations) person. I was doing web-based marketing and . . . I helped out with programs and events. I did that for about three years and realized I wanted to work in a museum as a career.
I also volunteer with the Western Springs Historical Society. I do social media for them. I write a column each week and I’m on the board now.
I worked on the project to acquire objects for the Ekdahl House (a preserved 1887 house built by a Swedish shoemaker in Western Springs). We had a budget and I searched antique shops in northern Illinois for tools shoemakers at that time would have used. We used replicas and I worked with antique dealers over the Internet.
Q: Did you see the movie Lincoln?
A: Not yet, but I want to.
Q; What is your favorite history-themed movie?
A: Some are done better than others. Since I’m a history major, I look at them and see things that I think are overdramatized. I don’t hate them. They do have value. I like reading about history more than seeing historical films.
Q: What would be your dream job?
A: Definitely what I’m doing now. I wanted to be creative and I have hands-on direct involvement with the exhibitions and collections. I work on programming and I’m always active, always going into classrooms. We drop off educational materials (about Hinsdale history) the teacher can teach herself or I can present. We have a traveling trunk with a bunch of items that we can take out in the community. And we’re trying to market our brand, our institution to the community.