The Naper Settlement Museum is a popular open-air attraction in central Naperville. It transports visitors back in time to different eras of Illinois history. A collection of historic buildings from the town’s colorful past house thousands of objects that shed light on local life. Watch as history comes to life in this engaging, family-friendly museum.
Start your exploration in the home of Caroline Martin Mitchell. This Victorian house was the originator of the museum, donated by Mitchell in 1936 alongside all of the surrounding land. The museum is designed to chronicle Naperville’s transition from pioneer outpost in 1831 to thriving city by the 1900s.
Step back to a period of frontier settling and rapid growth in a 12-acre (5-hectare) museum that encompasses 30 separate buildings. On your way around the museum, you will meet costumed guides ready to tell you stories from life in 1800s Illinois.
Seek out the Naper Haight House if you’re visiting with children. This building hosts child-friendly exhibits and interactive games to help younger visitors learn about America’s story.
Wander around the rest of the museum to see some of the other buildings. The Meeting House is a white, wooden-slatted church building that was first built elsewhere in the 1840s. Stop by the Blacksmith Shop, a recreated 1880s workshop complete with original tools and occasional demonstrations.
Explore two galleries dedicated to Naperville’s history. A permanent exhibit displays artifacts and photographs from the last 200 years to further reveal what it was like to live in Naperville at different stages of its existence.
Watch live reenactments of Civil War battles every May. Costumed soldiers take to the fields for an exciting glimpse of the battles that took place during a brutal period in American history.
The Naper Settlement Museum is open throughout the year, with limited opening days and cheaper admission in winter. The museum is closed on Mondays in summer and on Sundays, Mondays and Saturdays in winter. Local buses stop outside the museum and car parking is available over the road. Drive to the museum in about 50 minutes from Downtown Chicago.