Naper Notes Blog

Naper Settlement's blog will feature special events, historical happenings and interesting tidbits about Naperville's only history museum.

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Feb 17

Playing with History: Collector’s Edition Exhibit

Posted on February 17, 2016 at 12:32 PM by Donna DeFalco

What do you collect? Is it baseball cards, artwork, glassware, trains, toys, dolls, maybe even antique fishing lures? Every day, Naper Settlement receives items from the community that join the more than 60,000 items in its museum collection, which includes 13,000 photographs and artifacts ranging in date from the 18th century to present day that chronicle Naperville’s history. But the museum’s curators wanted to know, what does our staff collect? In answer to that question, several Naper Settlement staff members and family members contributed to the new exhibit, “Playing with History: Collector’s Edition.”

IMG_1419.JPGChief Curator Louise Howard has worked at Naper Settlement for more than 25 years and she has seen the museum collections grow in size and scope. She is an avid collector herself and passed along her love of collecting to her daughters. Through the years, she has collected everything from bicentennial pennies to vintage glass Christmas ornaments and the popular Beanie Babies.

“As a museum curator by profession, it seems natural I would have personal collections of my own,” she said. “My multiple collections serve as expressions of my varied likes and interests throughout different phases of my life.”

The exhibit will be on display until March 31 in the Heritage Gallery. Collectors and collections included in the exhibit are:

• Financial Specialist Kevin Bixenmann’s PEZPEZ dispensers including a trio of rare Elvis Presley dispensers, NASCAR dispensers and the entire Star Wars cast of characters.
• Curator of Exhibits and Interpretation Jennifer Bridge’s collection of planters and vases made by Haeger Pottery in East Dundee, Ill., and a collection of American Civil War and Lincoln memorabilia.
• Registrar Sarah Buhlig’s collection of squirrels includes figurines, a painting and even a LEGO squirrel.
• Assistant Director of the Robert R. McCormick Museum (and Sarah's husband) Will Buhlig’s collection of whimsical Lincoln memorabilia.
• Director of Organizational Resources Josh Chartier’s shimmering and colorful collection of Blenko glass.
• Learning Experiences Coordinator Anna DiCosola’s extensive rock collection amassed from three mountain ranges, three continents and two oceans.
Cubs Bear• Vice President of Museum Services Debbie Grinnell’s collection of Krueger Brewing Company memorabilia and a collection of Chicago Cubs’ programs from her father-in-law, husband and son (all lifelong Cubs fans), which include two no-hitters and their recent win against the Cardinals in 2015 to clinch the NLDS, and Cubs’ merchandise.
• Chief Curator Louise Howard’s collection of Ty Warner Beanie Babies and Bicentennial pennies and her daughters’ collections of colorful Jibbetz for Crocs shoes and imaginative pull-apart erasers.
• Corporate Relations and Sponsorship Coordinator Nata-Leigh Preas’ magnet collection reflects her travels throughout the country. She also has a collection of charming wool felted Christmas ornaments that are on display.
• Guest Services Team Leader Patty Paterek’s pristine collection of uncirculated quarters from the 50 States Quarter Program.

The Collector’s Edition exhibit is included with museum admission, which is $5.25 adults, $4.75 seniors and $4 youth 4-12. Children 3 and under, Naperville residents and members are free. Admission includes the Visitor Center galleries and exhibits. Winter museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. The historic buildings are open only to scheduled groups through March 31. Call (630) 420-6010 or visit

- Donna DeFalco