In the Calumet Voices, National Stories exhibition series, local heritage organizations give voice to the region’s national significance. Through the stories of selected objects and images, they show how this unique landscape’s natural resources made its transformation into an industrial powerhouse possible, and how thousands of diverse people came to call this region home in the process.
Four exhibitions make up the Calumet Voices, National Stories series. Each exhibition is curated by a different group of Calumet organizations working together to showcase unique collections of voices and stories.
Exhibition Dates and Locations
First Exhibition — Calumet Elements
The first exhibition, Calumet Elements, was held June 26-November 17, 2019, at the Visitor Information Center for the Historic Pullman Foundation and Pullman National Monument. Partnering organizations (in addition to host site): Blue Island Historical Society, Calumet Heritage Partnership, People for Community Recovery, Robbins History Museum.
In this first of four Calumet Voices, National Stories exhibits, local heritage organizations give voice to the region. Through selected objects and images, local heritage organizations explore how the elements of WATER, FIRE, and EARTH combine to make this landscape an unexpected American treasure.
Top left: The early 20th century construction of the Calumet-Saganashkee Channel (nicknamed the Cal-Sag) through Blue Island connected the Little Calumet River to the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. The result was a vastly upgraded, national shipping connection between the Upper Midwest and the Mississippi River. Still serving its original purpose of transporting raw materials from mines and farms to heavy industry, the Cal-Sag Channel now hosts the Chicago Southland Dragon Boat Festival and other rowing and recreational events. Modern Day Dragon Boat Races, Joyce Shelton, Blue Island Historical Society.
Top right: These signs from Acme Steel show the risks that steelworkers took every day to provide for their families. Credit: Acme Steel Safety Signs, 1940s-1970s, Calumet Heritage Partnership, Steel Heritage Collection.
Middle Left: These mid-century identification badges show the diversity of steelworkers who worked in mills located on Chicago’s Southeast Side. US Steel Southworks Employee Badges, Mid-century, Southeast Chicago Historical Museum.
Bottom Left: Rich clay deposits from Lake Michigan’s geologic past were just three feet below the surface at the shores of Lake Calumet in the late 1800s. With the Great Chicago Fire still in memory, fire-resistant bricks made from this clay became the town of Pullman’s (and later, Chicago’s) primary building material. Original Historic Pullman Brick, 1884, Historic Pullman Foundation Collection.
Bottom Right: The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters union, which represented African Americans employed by the Pullman Company, played a major role in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. The union had an international impact stemming from first organizing at a company headquartered in the Calumet. Photographer: Jack Delano, Library of Congress
Current Exhibition — Calumet: The Land of Opportunity
On display through Spring 2021 at the Gary Public Library and Cultural Center, 220 W 5th Ave., Gary, IN 46402. Please Note: The Gary Public Library is closed in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns. Click here for information from the Gary Public Library.
Partnering organizations (in addition to host site): Calumet Regional Archives at IUN, Cedar Lake Historical Association, Crown Point Public Library, Hammond Public Library, Lakeshore People’s Museum, Northwest Indiana Steel Heritage Museum.
Upcoming Exhibition — A Calumet Tapestry: Artistic Views of the Region
Summer 2021-January 2022 at the Porter County Museum’s Montague/Urschel Gallery, downtown Valparaiso, Indiana. Partnering organizations (in addition to host site): Barker Mansion, Brauer Museum of Art at Valparaiso University, Westchester Township History Museum.
Wool Tapestry, 1973
Helena Hernmarck (b. 1941)
Collection of the Northwest Indiana Steel Heritage Project
Final Exhibition — Coming to the Field Museum
The culminating exhibition will open in February 2022 and run through January 2023, at the Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605, featuring all exhibition partners and Field Museum collections from the Calumet region.
The exhibition is free with general admission (if applicable).
Media and Exhibit Materials
Calumet Curators and Exhibition Partners
Calumet Curators is a network of museums, galleries, and local history centers that showcase the rich cultural, natural, and industrial heritage of the Calumet region. Formed by the Calumet Heritage Partnership, they collaborate on exhibitions, programming, convening, and a regional guide to local heritage organizations.
631 Washington Street
Michigan City, IN 46360
Blue Island Historical Society
13018 Maple Avenue
Blue Island, IL 60406
Brauer Museum of Art, Valparaiso University
1709 Chapel Drive
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Calumet Heritage Partnership
13300 S Baltimore
Chicago, IL 60633
Cedar Lake Historical Association
7408 Constitution Avenue
Cedar Lake, IN 46303
Crown Point Community Library
122 North Main Street
Crown Point, IN 46307
1400 S Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
Gary Public Library
220 W 5th Avenue
Gary, Indiana 46401
Hammond Public Library
564 State Street
Hammond, IN 46320
Historic Pullman Foundation
11141 S Cottage Grove
Chicago, IL 60628
Lakeshore People’s Museum
100 N Lake Street
Gary, IN 46403
Steel Heritage Project
People for Community Recovery
13330 S Corliss Avenue
Chicago, IL 60827
Porter County Museum
153 Franklin Street
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Pullman National Monument
11141 S Cottage Grove
Chicago, IL 60628
Robbins History Museum
3644 W 139th Street
Robbins, IL 60472
Southeast Chicago Historical Museum
9801 S Avenue G
Chicago, IL 60617
Westchester Township History Museum
700 W Porter Avenue
Chesterton, IN 46304
Please contact Madeleine Tudor, Field Museum, for general information and PR related inquiries – firstname.lastname@example.org