History of the Museum
Our local Museum began when the Historical Society of Porter County temporarily amassed artifacts to create a display for Indiana’s Centennial Celebration in 1916. When some of the contributors did not want their items back, the Museum’s collection was born. Our unique assortment of artifacts stems from the hard work, determination, and perseverance of several generations of Historical Society members and volunteers.
It has been difficult to pinpoint an exact start date for the Museum, but most sources show that the collection was officially showcased on a regular basis in the Valparaiso Public Library in the early 1930’s. When library space became restricted, the County Commissioners allowed the Collection 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 Old 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 of History. The Board of the Historical Society felt the name was more representative of the Museum’s collection.
On May 12, 2010, the Porter County Heritage Corporation, an official Board of Trustees for the Museum, was created. During a June 18, 2010 special meeting, the Board of Directors of the Historical Society signed over the entire collection of artifacts to the newly formed Museum Board of Trustees. The 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.
Since 2010, the Porter County Museum, or PoCo Muse, has dedicated itself to a refocused mission: to connect the rich past to the evolving present to educate, enrich, and inspire our Porter County communities.