South Shore CVA Spotlights Calumet Region With “Calumet Voices, National Stories” Exhibit at the Indiana Welcome Center

South Shore CVA Spotlights Calumet Region With “Calumet Voices, National Stories” Exhibit at the Indiana Welcome Center

The Calumet region is vibrant and tapestry woven with threads of diverse cultures and industrial history. Binding this wealth of stories together are the experiences of past residents and their contributions to shaping America. Chicago’s Field Museum and a network of over 100 local museums, cultural centers, and interpretive centers have invested in unique pieces of the Calumet region’s history. South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority (South Shore CVA) is proud to showcase these integrated pieces through the “Calumet Voices, National Stories: Journey Through Calumet” exhibit. This exhibit is set to run through October 6 at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond. 

“Calumet's diverse landscape, innovation and change for industries and workers, and the crucible of working class and ethnic cultures, serves as the basis for the development of the ‘Calumet Voices, National Stories Exhibit,’” said Gary Johnson, President of the Calumet Heritage Partnership. 

The exhibit delves into the historical and ecological facets of the Calumet region, which expands greater Northwest Indiana and the Great Lakes region. The Field Museum, as a partner in the project, contributed collections from its four main areas: anthropology, botany, geology, and zoology. The exhibit’s development involved a series of workshops where numerous, bi-state partners explored shared themes, curated their collections, and developed their narratives. 

“The Field Museum took responsibility for the creative part and the physical part of building the exhibit,” said Johnson. “The Calumet Curators, which is a group under the Calumet Heritage Partnership of local museums and historical societies, supplied the artifacts that make up the exhibit.”

The earlier versions of the exhibit were designed as a rotating showcase, with three distinct sub-themes curated by different groups of partner organizations, which included: National Park Service Pullman Visitor Center, Gary Public Library and Cultural Center, and Porter County Museum. 

“Our combined efforts have put together an ongoing story here – from the effects of technology changes in steelmaking to today’s efforts to reclaim those globally important duneland assets for recreational and educational use,” said Johnson. 

The Calumet region holds a special place in the heart of Madeleine Tudor, curatorial adviser and Senior Environmental Social Scientist with the Keller Science Action Center at the Field Museum. Her role enables her to connect local communities to the museum’s resources. Her 27 years of work in ethnographic research and engaging with communities in the Calumet region ignited her passion for the exhibition.  

“The Calumet region continues to fascinate me in the sense that it is very rich in ecological diversity, ecological assets, and cultural diversity,” said Tudor. “The preservation of local communities and assets is crucial. Collaborative exhibitions can showcase local history and culture and also come with challenges and opportunities.”

One of the most significant projects Tudor has been involved in is the effort to secure National Heritage Area designation for the Calumet region. This federal designation, a program of the National Park Service, recognizes areas with significant cultural and historical resources.

“A national heritage area focuses on landscapes where people live,” said Tudor. “The idea is to focus on communities and areas in regions that have moved through generally post-industrial change or dramatic change in landscape and to highlight the heritage assets of those regions to create private places, economic opportunities, tourism, and more.”

As the Field Museum continues to promote socio-economic recognition in the region, South Shore CVA aids in bringing natural, industrial, and cultural artifacts alongside interactive digital media to curious minds in the community. Several charismatic objects are currently on display, including a fire truck from 1956 and an ice cream truck from the mid-1920s. This year’s exhibit stands as a powerful example of how museums can serve as platforms for community voices and contribute to a deeper understanding of local history.

“The ‘Calumet Voices, National Stories’ exhibit helps us paint the picture of who we are as a Region,” said Nikki Lopez, Chief Operating Officer at South Shore CVA. ”The Indiana Welcome Center serves as a rest stop for travelers. Hosting this type of exhibit helps us with our mission to get travelers to come back to Lake County as a destination, instead of just a stop along the way, by telling the story of who we are.”

Come visit the Indiana Welcome Center at 7770 Corinne Drive in Hammond to experience riveting local history, or visit for more information.