Chicago History Museum’s ‘Making History Awards’ Honor the Lasting Impact of Chicago Leaders

This pandemic will surely be noted as a critical point in history. Health and safety are at the forefront of this battle, but share a spotlight with the world’s fight against climate change and anti-racist movements.

With history happening fast and at such a broad scale, the Chicago History Museum is a significant organization dedicated to preserving and documenting current historical moments in this city.

Founded in 1856, the museum honors the stories and artifacts left behind by Chicagoans. Nationally recognized for its collection, the museum, formerly known as Chicago Historical Society, is devoted to collecting, interpreting, and presenting the rich multicultural history of Chicago, as well as selected areas of American history.

In October, the museum celebrated seven distinguished honorees who have left their mark on Chicago at the 26th Anniversary Making History Awards during a virtual ceremony. The Making History Awards, which began in 1995, raise vital financial support for the museum’s operations and programs and pay tribute to the lasting impact of Chicago leaders in arts and culture, sports, business and civic life, who have made our city a more vibrant place to live.

Honorees at the event, which raised $900,000, include Edward J. Wehmer, who was awarded the Cyrus McCormick Making History Award for Historic Corporate Achievement and Dr. Joanne C. Smith, who received the Enrico Fermi Making History Award for Distinction in Science, Medicine, and Technology award.

Edward J. Wehmer (center), Founder and CEO of Wintrust Financial Corporation wins the The Cyrus McCormick Making History Award for Historic Corporate Achievement.

This year’s sponsors include co-chairs Exelon, the Lavin Family Foundation and Wintrust, and vice-chairs Abbott, the Crown Family, and Bon and Holly French. To view the full list of sponsors, visit

In addition to honoring extraordinary contributions to the city each year, this event also allows the museum to continue their mission to tell Chicago stories through a vast collection of artifacts, innovative exhibits, public programs, tours and web-based education.

You can view the full program on YouTube.

The museum is currently closed due to COVID-19 mitigation efforts, but you can still learn and use the museum’s digital resources via their website. The museum also offers online exhibitions, including a temporary exhibition called “American Medina” which features stories of Muslim American from Chicago.

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