City of Elgin Museums

Elgin Area Historical Society

The Elgin Area Historical Society is housed in an 1856 landmark building known as Old Main that was once part of the Elgin Academy. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Through permanent and ever changing exhibits, the museum brings to life Elgin's rich heritage. Permanent exhibits include Elgin National Watch Company, the E. Maude and Carl Parlasca Native American Collection, and Elgin Road Race memorabilia.

The Elgin Area Historical Society collects significant materials to explain and document the history of Elgin and its relationship to local, state, regional, and national history. The Society’s permanent collection holds approximately 3,500 three-dimensional items and a large archive of over 30,000 documents, photographs, negatives, ephemera, postcards, stereocards, oversize maps and posters, books, ledgers and manuscripts. All of the items relate to Elgin’s history from 1835 to the present. Some items are rotated on exhibit at the Society in Old Main and in traveling exhibits.

The museum store also has one-of-a-kind Elgin items available, so please stop by and take a look the next time you're visiting Elgin!

Elgin Fire Barn No. 5 Museum

The Elgin Fire Barn No. 5 Museum houses the Elgin fire department's most prized artifacts. Among the museum's collection are photos, helmets, various badge types, uniforms, a hand-drawn hose cart, an 1869 horse-drawn Silsby Steamer, several motorized vehicles and much much more.

Elgin Public Museum of Natural History & Anthropology

Built in 1907, the Elgin Public Museum is the only natural history museum in the Fox Valley area. The museum offers exhibits and educational programs with natural history and cultural themes for families, school groups, scouts, clubs, organizations, homeschoolers and anyone who wants to have fun while learning!

The museum is located in Lords Park, a beautiful 108-acre municipal park that features picnic areas, playgrounds, tennis and basketball courts, a family aquatic center, a nature trail and three lagoons.

Visitors can enjoy watching the American bison, elk, and white-tailed deer that live in wooded enclosures at Lords Park Zoo throughout the year. Note: Currently the Summer Farm Zoo exhibit is closed.

U-46 Observatory/ Planetarium

The Elgin School District U-46 Planetarium opened its doors in September 1963 for students to learn about astronomy under the dome. It was built to serve the burgeoning U-46 population during the space race that eventually landed us on the Moon. It is an addition to the back of the original part of the building, the 1909 Elgin National Watch Company Observatory. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

The building is occasionally open to the public for sky shows in the evening during the school year. Dates are listed on the website. It is not open to the general public during programming for school groups on school days. Visitors are taken by appointment only. Call (847) 888-5324 for information.