July 14, 1920
The award-winning PoCo Muse (Porter County Museum) maintains free general admission year-round as the oldest institution devoted to the history and culture of Porter County.
Visit pocomuse.org to plan your future trip!
153 Franklin St
The PoCo Muse (short for Porter County Museum) is located at the southeast corner of Indiana Avenue and Franklin Street (153 S. Franklin) in downtown Valparaiso, Indiana. Programs and activities (unless otherwise indicated) are now held inside the Montague/Urschel Gallery at 20 Indiana Avenue (across the street from the PoCo Muse), accessible through the Franklin Street entrance on the south facade of the building. Current PoCo Muse hours of operation are Wednesday through Sunday from 10a until 4p. Occasional special hours are listed at pocomuse.org. For a complete listing of our upcoming events, be sure to click over to our events page on this Facebook site.
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From the marshes of the Kankakee to the sands of the Indiana Dunes, a diverse people have embraced this diverse land. And though the world of today looks very different than that of the county’s founding, the land beneath our feet has remained constant, reminding us that we are Porter County.
The PoCo Muse began when the Porter County Historical Society temporarily gathered artifacts to create a display for Indiana’s Centennial Celebration in 1916. When some of the contributors did not want their objects back, the permanent collection was born. Our unique assortment of artifacts stems from the hard work, determination, and perseverance of several generations of members and volunteers.
It has been difficult to pinpoint an exact start date for regular hours of operation, but most sources show that the collection was officially showcased on a regular basis on the lower level of the Valparaiso Public Library in the early 1930s.
When library space became restricted because of the collection’s growth, the Porter County Commissioners allowed the PoCo Muse to move into the third floor of the remodeled Porter County Courthouse. Doors to the Porter County History Museum first opened to the public on January 17, 1938.
After 36 years, the collection once again needed a larger venue. With much debate, the collection moved to the former Porter County Jail and Sheriff’s Residence on September 17, 1974. The Old Jail Museum officially opened its doors to the public on May 11, 1975—59 years after the collection was first publicly displayed in Porter County. On June 23, 1976, the jail and residence was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In May 2007, the Old Jail Museum officially changed its name back to the Porter County Museum. The Board of the Historical Society of Porter County felt the name was more representative of the collection. On March 1, 2008, Kevin Matthew Pazour was hired by the Porter County Commissioners as the first full-time Executive Director of the Porter County Museum.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
On May 12, 2010, the Porter County Heritage Corporation, an independent non-profit tasked with planning for the Porter County Museum’s future, was created by the Historical Society of Porter County. During a special meeting on June 18, 2010, the Board of Directors of the Historical Society signed over the entire collection of artifacts to the newly formed Porter County Heritage Corporation. The re-branded Porter County Museum of History re-opened to the public in September 2010 with expanded public hours, revitalized exhibits and programs, and a sharpened focus on local history.
THE POCO MUSE ERA
It was early 2012 when the Porter County Museum adopted the PoCo Muse moniker. On December 17, 2012, the Porter County Heritage Corporation officially became the Porter County Museum Foundation. The PoCo Muse is dedicated to engaging Porter County’s rich past with its evolving present to educate, enrich, and inspire our communities.
Header image is a detail of the Blue Willow Serving Platter on display in From a Bailly Point of View at the PoCo Muse. This piece belonged to the Bailly family and is transfer printed earthenware that dates from 1830-1915 based on the pattern.