Grant will help in creating ‘Portage Walking Museum’


A $75,000 grant will be used to help start the creation of the planned "Northwest Portage Walking Museum" which will run along a 9-mile stretch of Irving Park Road between the Chicago and Des Plaines rivers.

The Chicago Public Art Group, the grant’s recipient, described the project in a recent news release as "not a traditional museum with four walls and a roof, but a living, accessible, outdoor museum featuring multiple art installations and gardens along historic paths still in daily use by contemporary Chicagoans."

The walking museum is intended to highlight the role of the rivers in the city’s history, including the use of the rivers by Native-Americans.

"The neighborhoods along the pleasant, pedestrian-friendly trail will add their own histories and voices to the installations and gardens, buildings on the history of communities along the rivers," according to the press release.

Art group managing director Maryrose Pavkovic said that the grant is intended to pay for art installations and gardens at the east and west ends of the path along the river. She said that the American Indian Center is assisting with the historical research and design for the project.

Last year, the Portage Park Neighborhood Association announced preliminary plans for the museum and has been seeking partners and grants to help get the project started. The Metropolitan Planning Council has been assisting the association.

The museum could include temporary displays in storefronts, and cultural programming for families will be held at different points along the route, said association president Patty Conroy.

The Perkins and Will architectural firm of recently created design concepts for the museum, and the designs will be on display through the end of the year as part of the "Between States" exhibit at the Chicago Architecture Foundation Atrium Gallery, 224 S. Michigan Ave., Conroy said.

It has been reported that Native-Americans would portage, or carry, their canoes between the two rivers along a path where Irving Park Road is now located. This led to the naming of Portage Park at 4100 N. Long Ave.

There is some debate as to the location of the trails used for portaging, as maps dating back to the 1800s do not show Irving Park as a trail, and 9 miles would have been a long journey to carry a canoe, according to the Northwest Chicago Historical Society. Museum organizers have said that any portage in the area would not have followed the exact route of Irving Park, as trails naturally meander.