Current Exhibits


Exhibitions for All Ages

The Gaylord Building has featured a range of exhibits on the history of the canal: the people who built it, the towns that prospered along it, and the landscape that was shaped by it.


The Third Floor Gallery

The third floor gallery currently holds an exhibition created by the Give Something Back Foundation that tells the story behind the individuals and organizations who created the dynamic space that is today known as the Lincoln Landing. The Lincoln Landing, which was dedicated by the Lockport Community on the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, celebrates Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to improve America’s transportation networks, especially the Illinois and Michigan Canal.

The exhibit also explains the logistic ideals behind the Lincoln Landing’s landscape design and  long horizontals which reflect the landing’s history and earlier uses. Visitors can learn about Artist David Ostro and his creation of the life-size three-headed sculpture of Abraham Lincoln that resides within the story circle on Lincoln Landing near The Gaylord Building.

Visit this exhibit to learn more about Lincoln’s connection to the Lockport Community and the dedication of the Lincoln Landing.

The Second Floor Gallery

Unlocking the Past: From Prison to Vision

The exhibit highlights community efforts in the preservation and adaptive reuse of the Old Joliet Prison.


Historians and preservationists recognize the value of the everyday places that make up the fabric of communities—places that played a role in local history and culture.  The Old Joliet Penitentiary embodies a history that few people know and that reveals many ways this site is truly iconic—in architecture and design, collections, culture, and in labor reform practices.  This is a history that tells a story of the prison’s significance and value as a place that matters.  This exhibit explores historic preservation as a tool for advancing a multitude of community interests and needs, and as a means of rethinking the function of the Old Joliet Penitentiary —a timely question as the community considers the role and economic development value of the old fortress and its future.


Through the preservation of stories and memories, objects, and the sharing of ideas and visions, governmental agencies, environmentalists, historians, residents, and other regional stakeholders are working together to reimage the aging facility before it decays beyond repair.  The question remains:  What, ultimately, should the redeveloped prison become?


Learn how a diverse cross section of disciplines is working in tandem to collaborate on preserving not only the site of the Old Joliet Penitentiary, but its unique history as one of the largest, most infamous prisons in the history of Illinois.


The First Floor Gallery

On the ground floor is the permanent exhibit Illinois Passage: Connecting the Continent, which examines the impact of the Illinois & Michigan Canal on the development of northeastern Illinois. Blending artifacts, historic photos and engaging interpretive text, the exhibit provides visitors with an introduction to the role that the I & M Canal played in shaping Illinois’ destiny. The Illinois State Historical Society awarded the exhibit a Superior Achievement for exhibitions. Part of the citation states, “Based on extensive and impeccable research, the exhibition is a model of high quality design in service of sound educational goals.”