Civic Season Featured Program: Civic Season Series by Chicago History Museum

Made By Us
4 min readDec 11, 2023


As we count down to Civic Season 2024, we highlight how organizations across the U.S. are joining in this new national celebration.

The Chicago History Museum is committed to engaging with history connects us to the past moments and movements that have summoned the shape of our society today. This piece was written by the amazing staff at the Chicago History Museum to explore the ways their mission and program have gone through institutional changes, and how their participation in Civic Season has helped shape their mission.

2024 Civic Season Featured Event: The Civic Season Series

The Civic Season series at The Chicago History Museum (CHM) kicks-off on Juneteenth, and continues with programming, events, and museum explorations all leading towards a reimagined Independence Day celebration with traditions new and old. The Museum serves as a space to help Chicagoans connect with history and to each other, build new skills, and provide a roadmap to future civic participation so we may all be more informed and engaged citizens.

Discover step-by-step how to host your own Civic Season Series at your organization here.

Joining Civic Season

We are excited to share that CHM is heading into its third year of active participation with Civic Season. A colleague happened to share an informational email, and we were drawn to the mission and transformative societal impact the program could have. Our first Civic Season year served as a testing ground to build institutional support and gauge audience response. Our programming model was limited but impactful, and today, we continue to spread the word on Civic Season and to develop new supportive partnerships across Chicago. The wide net helps to encourage dialogue between people and collaborative consideration regarding the future that best serves the city with mindfulness to our diverse, lived experiences and needs.

The most impactful part of joining a national campaign around history and civic engagement is the ability to connect with people across the country who are interested in bringing together people for civic discourse and engagement. For those who are interested in joining, it is important to secure institutional buy-in first. Demonstrate how Civic Season supports your institutional mission and how it will benefit your visitors. You’ll need support across your institution to make the program work, so getting those commitments first and identifying where the program amplifies your mission are essential steps.

Diving Deeper

The Chicago History Museum (CHM) is situated on ancestral homelands of the Potawatomi people, who cared for the land until forced out by non-Native settlers. Established in 1856 as the Chicago Historical Society, today CHM has amassed some 22 million artifacts that document the vibrant communities of Chicago, allowing us to develop content pulling marginalized Chicago people, places, and spaces stories to the center of the city’s narrative.

Galvanized by the confluent impacts of 2020, namely the continuation of racialized violence against African American people, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a deeply contentious election, CHM initiated a critical review of who we professed to serve, how we served, and the efficacy of our learning and engagement approaches toward those ends.

Out of our continued review, the Museum developed a new mission to serve as a hub for learning and civic engagement, and we are committed to responding to our ever-changing American city and to culturally relevant and responsive museum work and more nuanced historical representation. The ongoing projects listed here reflect our new direction and serve as roadmaps to further defining our service model to our city.

Growing as an Institution

While civics was not specifically spelled out in our mission prior to the change in 2022, we had already been engaging in civic education initiatives because the two disciplines, history and civics, are intrinsically linked. Civics encourages us to understand our present so that we can make informed decisions on our future, and history helps us understand the past moments that have contributed to where we are today. Building room for civic engagement in our history programming provides an arc of understanding that helps our audiences envision the future with an awareness of the histories of the people who have pushed to advocate for a “more perfect union.” With civics now at the center of our mission, we are moving forward with collaborations, exhibitions, and learning resource development firmly set to aid in the development of a society that is informed as they engage in civic life and our democratic processes.