CHICAGO (AP) — The new president of the Chicago History Museum says he wants to make the city’s oldest museum interactive and to increase and diversify attendance.
CEO Donald Lassere says 80% of those visiting the museum on the city’s North Side are White in a city that has a majority-minority population. The newly hired Lassere comes to the Chicago History Museum from the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville.
Lassere told the Chicago Sun-Times he was able to increase attendance at the Ali Center by shifting the public’s perception of it from a boxing museum to a cultural center by appealing to women and changing the type of temporary exhibits it displayed.
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Lassere noted he attended Percy Julian High School in Chicago and it wasn’t until years later he learned the man was an African American entrepreneur and scientist. He said addressing in exhibits why certain high schools are named after certain people from a historical perspective would be interesting to the entire community.
Attendance at the Chicago History Museum could also be boosted by appealing directly to the melting pot of ethnic groups that migrated to the city, Lassere said. He contends Chicago history is world history, and the reasons for that migration should be talked about.