Naper Settlement is a 13-acre open-air museum where visitors are immersed in Naperville’s history from early settlers to the present day. It features a collection of over thirty buildings, some original to the site, others relocated, and some newly constructed. These buildings form a unique mini-town setting where traditional structures, like a log cabin, a wooden barn showcasing a historic thresher, or a blacksmith shop coexist along with modern technology-infused venues such as the new Agriculture Center providing visitors and school children with diverse and unique hands-on learning experiences.

The Birck Family Innovation Gateway is the newest building which serves as the entrance to the Naper Settlement campus. Its stone and sculptural metal façade borders downtown Naperville. An elongated gathering plaza welcomes visitors upon arrival. The structure provides a clear division between our modern world and the historic environments of the museum compound. Views into the entrance are initially concealed, but upon entry, open up to a vast glazed wall revealing the open-air campus beyond.

Upon entering the front door, the lighting dims and the mood changes as a movie themed “Looking Back is Looking Forward” sets the stage for experiencing the Settlement’s story. In the near future, this welcome center will also feature a state-of-the art, fully immersive Digital Experience bringing history alive by inviting visitors to co-create content leaving their mark in the ongoing story that is Naper Settlement.

The Innovation Gateway is also a multi-functional facility serving the diverse needs of the Naperville community. Equipped with advanced lighting and AV technology including automatic room darkening photochromatic glass, makes it suitable for presentations, guest lectures, corporate meetings, school field trips, community celebrations and even wedding receptions.

Photo Credit: Connor Steinkamp, Steinkamp Photography

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