Appeared in the Gazette, Spring/Summer 2020
by Ann Thompson
Meagan McChesney is the newest Winnetka Historical Society (WHS) staff member who recently began her role as Curator. The Curator’s job is an important one for the organization because the main focus of WHS is the care of the artifacts amassed over an almost 90-year history. These collections include everything from clothing, furnishings, and other daily reminders of the past to photographs and archival records that document the village’s history. There are approximately 15,000 catalogued items that require proper care, storage, documentation, and exhibition.
McChesney comes well prepared for the challenge. Impressively, she recently completed her PhD in History and Public History from Loyola University. Her dissertation topic was tribally-run museums, which highlight the significant role historical organizations like ours play in their communities and beyond.
In addition to her academic training, McChesney has wide experience in public history, having interned at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian and the Chicago Cultural Alliance. In those roles, her hands-on experience included research, exhibit development, and collections management. Some readers may be familiar with the “Did You Know They’re Native?” exhibit at the Mitchell Museum, which Meagan helped curate from start to finish. She has taught extensively at the university level and has been a researcher for the U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association with an emphasis on shipwrecks across the Great Lakes.
New exhibit and outreach ideas are underway at WHS, and McChesney will be an integral part of these programs. The Curator also provides reference services to patrons who come to 411 Linden Street to research buildings and other local history topics. Her love of history and expertise in historical themes will be an asset to our researchers. We hope the community will take advantage of her many skills and get to know this newest member of our staff.