History of the PoCo Muse
The PoCo Muse began when the Porter County Historical Society temporarily amassed artifacts to create a display for Indiana’s Centennial Celebration in 1916. When some of the contributors did not want their objects back, the Museum’s collection was born. Our unique assortment of artifacts stems from the hard work, determination, and perseverance of several generations of members and volunteers.
It has been difficult to pinpoint an exact start date for the Porter County Museum’s regular hours of operation, but most sources show that the collection was officially showcased on a regular basis in the Valparaiso Public Library in the early 1930s. When library space became restricted, the County Commissioners allowed the PoCo Muse to be moved to the third floor of the newly remodeled Porter County Courthouse. Doors to the Porter County History Museum first opened to the public on January 17, 1938.
After nearly 40 years, the collection once again needed a larger venue. With much debate, the collection moved to the former Porter County Jail and Sheriff’s Residence on September 17, 1974. The Old Jail Museum officially opened its doors to the public on May 11, 1975—59 years after the collection was first publicly displayed in Porter County. On June 23, 1976, the Museum building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In May 2007, the Old Jail Museum officially changed its name to the Porter County Museum . The Board of the Historical Society of Porter County felt the name was more representative of the Museum’s collection. On March 1, 2008, Kevin Matthew Pazour was hired by the Porter County Commissioners as the first full-time Executive Director of the Porter County Museum.
On May 12, 2010, the Porter County Heritage Corporation, an independent non-profit tasked with planning for the Porter County Museum’s future, was created by the Historical Society of Porter County. During special meeting on June 18, 2010, the Board of Directors of the Historical Society signed over the entire collection of artifacts to the newly formed Porter County Heritage Corporation. The re-branded Porter County Museum of History re-opened to the public in September 2010 with expanded public hours, revitalized exhibits and programs, and a sharpened focus on all areas of history and how Porter County relates.
It was early 2012 when the Porter County Museum adopted the PoCo Muse moniker. On December 17, 2012, the Porter County Heritage Corporation officially became the Porter County Museum Foundation. The PoCo Muse is dedicated engaging Porter County’s rich past with the evolving present to educate, enrich, and inspire our communities.