The mission of the Geneva History Museum is to preserve and share Geneva’s evolving story while inspiring and engaging the community.

We will accomplish this by…

Collecting: Acquiring material on Geneva’s history in all forms from past to present.

Preserving: Caring for the artifacts in our collection for present and future generations.

Researching: Sharing our unique resources with researchers across the world.

Educating: Inspiring and engaging visitors through programs and exhibitions.


Our vision is to be an accredited, sustainable Museum, connecting globally as the premiere source of Geneva’s history.

Core Values

Stewardship – We are committed to providing the highest level of care for objects the Museum holds in perpetuity.

Authenticity – We provide links to history through well documented collections, accurate interpretation and reliable scholarship.

Ingenuity – We apply limited resources in innovative ways to maximize the effectiveness of our programs and the efficiency of our operations.

Engagement – We invite community involvement in our exhibits, programs and collection development, and build partnerships with organizations and individuals.


In 1943, dedicated citizens formed the Geneva Historical Society to preserve local history and educate the community. Artifacts were cataloged and stored in private residences and exhibited in storefronts. A Museum Committee was formed in 1961 to raise funds for a building.  After years of searching existing buildings, they made a deal with the park district and city to build the first Geneva History Museum in Wheeler Park.  This building was expanded twice, in 1972 and in 1990.

As newcomers began to outnumber long-time residents, the Historical Society recognized the need for flexible space and a more central location. In 2004, the organization, renamed the Geneva History Center, conducted a successful capital campaign to purchase a two-story building in the heart of Geneva’s historic district. The building was renovated to create two exhibition galleries, storage areas for collections and archives, a research room, a meeting room and offices.  The organization has always operated on voluntary donations and does not receive public funds.

In 2013, while participating in the Museum Assessment Program, it was rediscovered that the word Museum best represents the activities and services of the organization. In June 2014, the name became the Geneva History Museum, operated by the Geneva Historical Society.

The Museum celebrated 10 years in this building in August 2014 with a grand reopening of the redesigned Main Gallery, “Geneva’s Story,” our permanent exhibition. Group Programs and Geneva on Wheels tours by van, trolley and bicycle were also developed to bring the Museum out into the community.

In 2014 the Museum started the Standards of Excellence Program for History Organizations (StEPs) offered by the American Association for State and Local History which provides benchmarks against nationally recognized standards.

With a goal of national accreditation, the Museum began reviewing and revising its core documents for the American Alliance of Museums in 2015 and continues to make improvements to meet Best Practices.  In 2017, the Museum was awarded a Collections Assessment for Preservation grant from the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation which provided a site visit by a conservationist and an architect who created a prioritized list of goals to improve the facility.

In 2017, the Museum was voted one of the “Best Museums in the Suburbs” by The Daily Herald and one of the “Best of the West” area Museums by West Suburban Living Magazine.

After completing all of the five StEPs, the American Association for State and Local History chose the Geneva History Museum as their national StEPs SpotLight in 2018 as an example of how StEPs is helping organizations take a leap forward by improving policies and practices, opening lines of communication and setting goals for a bright future.


Terry Emma

Executive Director

Since 2011, the Geneva History Museum has evolved under Terry’s leadership along with a professional and dedicated staff. She secured participation in the Museum Assessment Program which resulted in a total rebranding effort.

Jessica Strube

Curator of Exhibitions/Archivist

Jessica has developed award-winning exhibitions for the Geneva History Museum since 2009.

Heidi Howlett

Museum Educator

A Geneva resident and former school teacher, Heidi coordinates educational programs for schools, scouts, summer camps and adult tour groups.

Gayle Meers

Museum Technician

With a Master’s of Library Information Science from Dominican University, Gayle assists with research services, collection management and grant writing.

Vanessa Quillinan

Administrative Assistant

Vanessa has a diverse background in finance and purchasing, as a concierge, nuclear medicine technologist, volunteer for the Kane County Forest Preserve and a Certified Naturalist.

Mick Zollers

Historian Emeritus

Mick has been a dedicated Museum volunteer for more than 17 years.

Glorianne Campbell


Glorianne is a 1959 graduate of Geneva Community High School and has served on the Exhibition and Education Committee of the Geneva History Museum, Preseration Partners of the Fox Valley and Historic Homes Association.

Eleanor Hamilton

First Vice-President

Eleanor is a retired clinical psychologist and currently serves as vice-chair for the Geneva Mental Health Board and is the Central Kane County Treasurer for the League of Women Voters.

Dan Maier

Second Vice-President

Dan brings a background in finance and accounting to the Board of Directors as well as a love of history.

Pat Engel


Pat Engel and her family have resided in a “plaqued” home in Geneva for over 40 years.

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