Porter County Museum–An Arts District “Anchor”

Despite the heat and humidity of July, Porter County Museum drew a crowd to their 2nd annual block party, offering free food and, as always, free admission to their exhibits. The museum’s friendly staff greeted community members and offered a wealth of knowledge about Valparaiso and Porter County history, making the event a fun and interesting highlight to the hot, muggy afternoon.

Waiting for cupcakes from the Designer Deserts food truck
Waiting for cupcakes from the Designer Desserts food truck
Free Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, and Apple Pie

Bubbles, a chalk board,  and crafts were popular set-ups for the young attendees while a scavenger hunt gave all ages a fun way to explore the museum’s “100 years, 100 objects” exhibit.


Young residents enjoy bubbles and crafts at the PoCo block party
Young residents enjoy bubbles and crafts at the PoCo block party

Events like this inspire joy and a sense of togetherness–something our city wants to support and extend throughout the Valparaiso community. As we continue to plan an Arts District along Indiana Avenue,  Porter County Museum consistently serves as an example of how to bring community members together. Joanne Urschel,President of the Porter County Museum Foundation Board, referred to the museum as “an anchor” of culture and history that would support the extension of art–in its various forms–along Indiana Avenue.

Joanne Urschel, native valpo resident, shows off the PoCo Museum gift shop
Joanne Urschel, native Valpo resident, shows off the PoCo Museum gift shop

On top of the museum’s commitment to sharing history with our community, it also offers internship and volunteer opportunities to university students, AmeriCorps workers, and community members. The City believes that these work experiences are vital to enriching Valparaiso, and supporting a connected community. One of Porter County Museum’s interns and current AmeriCorps member is Tori Binelli, a junior at Valparaiso University majoring in History with minors in Art and Business.

Intern Tori Binelli describes the benefits of working with Porter County Museum
Intern Tori Binelli describes the benefits of working with Porter County Museum

Tori says that this internship has “exposed her to everything that goes on in a museum” emphasizing that she has been able to gain valuable experience researching and writing for artifacts found throughout the museum.  This September, Tori’s research on Civil Rights will produce a special exhibit at Porter County Museum, giving her the chance to showcase her hard work as an intern.

The City of Valparaiso wants to extend just what Porter County Museum is already doing for the community by creating an Arts Corridor that connects our historic downtown to Valparaiso University campus. With educational opportunities downtown, fun events for families, and internship opportunities for university students, we believe that Valparaiso will continue grow in its sense of community and will offer a higher quality of life to its residents.

PoCo’s Block Party along Indiana Avenue

To build an Arts District, Valparaiso leaders entered our city into the America’s Best Communities Grant: a four stage competition that encourages the revitalization of rural communities. Valparaiso made it into the quarterfinalist round, but wants to win the grand prize of $3 million for our community! To support Valparaiso in this competition, like our facebook page and share our posts. Let’s get our community engaged in this project!



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