Special Events & Attractions Cap a Successful Bridgehouse Museum Season

Bridgehouse Museum Associate Hunter Ford regales Eerie Evening participants with a spooky Chicago tale.

Our first-ever Eerie Evening at the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum October 21 was a fright to behold as more than 90 Halloween revelers gathered for a unique, after-hours experience within the 102-year-old walls of the museum. The special event of spooky Chicago tales capped off a successful 16th season at the landmark museum on Chicago’s Riverwalk which included public art, an autumn river cruise, and the debut of The Chicago River is Wild Science Station.

“Eerie Evening was incredible; our first Halloween event at the museum and many of our guests were first-time visitors,” said Josh Coles, director of the Bridgehouse Museum. “We transformed floors of the museum into true and scary stories from Chicago’s past, around the time the museum was built at the turn of the last century. It was great to see so many new people experience the museum this season, and we have many more fun and interactive plans for the 2023 season which starts in the spring.” Special thanks to Two Brothers Brewing for their generous donation of a variety of their delicious beverages. 

Overall, Coles said there were approximately 25,000 visitors to the museum this season accompanied by a strong uptick in engagement surrounding the exhibits which he attributes in part to the new science station exhibit on the museum’s plaza. The Chicago River is Wild Science Station is a free mobile exhibit that contains interactive activities for all ages to learn about the river, its wildlife, and water quality. Activities include a watershed model, which shows the movement of pollution across the land and how innovative green infrastructure can help to alleviate it. The science station also contains macroinvertebrate models, water quality testing kits, a coloring sheet, a microscope, native animal and plant guides. The Chicago River is Wild Science Station was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services

“With this bright and colorful exhibit we were able to activate the plaza space in front of the museum in a fun way that tapped people’s curiosity about the river,” said Coles. “Anyone could walk up to the interactive exhibit to learn about the river and its wildlife, and then come into the museum to explore more about what’s happening with the river and how they could help improve and protect it.”

In April, another unique activity on the plaza drew the attention of passersby who watched acclaimed Montana artist Ben Miller create a portrait of the Chicago River by casting paint on to a clear acrylic sheet using a fishing rod and reel.

The museum’s 2022 season drew to a close with more than 170 guests celebrating the river at our ninth annual autumn cruise benefiting the museum’s education and public outreach programs. “It was a beautiful evening and spirits were high as our sponsors, volunteers, and Bridgehouse Committee members celebrated the river and the important educational work of the Bridgehouse Museum in showcasing the wondrous natural resource river that is the Chicago River system,” said Coles. Guests were entertained with music by the Bitney & Bach Duo as they cruised the North Branch of the Chicago River after departing from the from the Wendella boat dock in front of the iconic Wrigley Building.

The cruise was presented by Wendella and CIBC. Lead sponsors were Saul Ewing LLP and City Cruises by Hornblower. Additional sponsors included The Fletcher Family and The Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Friends thanks them and all of our guests for making this wonderful event a success.