The museum offers a variety of educational programs for all ages throughout the year.

Art & Innovation Makerspace
spring break program for elementary-aged students & families
March 27-28, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. daily
cost: $5 per student, per day

Barbed wire was invented to solve a real-world problem: farmers needed an inexpensive way to fence in their land! By developing creative solutions, famous DeKalb inventors Jacob Haish, Joseph Glidden, and Isaac Ellwood shaped the future of our community. Even though they lived over 150 years ago, innovation (finding ways to improve on old ideas) isn’t just a thing of the past. People are always thinking, day-dreaming, and tinkering.

Using provided supplies, participants will create a model for a device that solves a modern problem. Whether a creative way to recycle old materials, an instrument or game that keeps boredom at bay, or a contraption to help with chores around the house, students will use their imagination to come up with an invention of their own. Coloring pages and sensory activities will be provided for children ages 5 and under.

Space is limited and registration is required. Please click the button below or call 815-756-4609 to register. Parents are welcome to drop off children ages 6 and older at the museum for the duration of the program, but children ages 5 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.


Brown Bag Lunch/Local Lore

Adult Lecture Series

presented in partnership with the dekalb county history center

partially funded by the mary e. stevens concert and lecture fund

Brown Bag Lunch /Local Lore is a series of lecture programs related to history, collections care, and historic preservation. Once a month, a knowledgeable speaker will present an hour-long program at a site in DeKalb County. All programs are free of charge and open to the public.

Thursday, April 4, 12:00 p.m.
Location: Ellwood House Museum Visitor Center
Pulled from the Headlines: Ellwood & Glidden Stories
Speakers: Rob Glover, Executive Director, Glidden Homestead and Audrey King, Curator of Education & Interpretation, Ellwood House Museum

Around the turn of the twentieth century, DeKalb’s booming barbed wire industry made Joseph Glidden, Isaac Ellwood, and Jacob Haish national figures and local celebrities. From the serious to the sensational, newspaper stories of the time shed light on the development of an industry, and the lives of those who shaped it. Rob Glover and Audrey King will dig deeper into some of the stories behind the headlines, including the Ellwood family’s connection to vaudeville’s “Shooting Showgirls,” and Joseph Glidden’s construction of a 100-room hotel in downtown DeKalb.

2019 Lecture Series.jpg

Ellwood Explorers

generously funded by the cy miller foundation

Ellwood Explorers is a series of monthly family programs offered from April through December. All programs are free of charge and last approximately one hour. Programs will take place rain or shine. Thank you to everyone who attended our 2018 programs, the 2019 schedule will be posted this spring.


School Tours


School field trips are free of charge.

group size

Due to space limitations inside the mansion, the maximum number of students we can accommodate at one time is 45.


We prefer to host field trips in the morning and can begin as early as 9:00 AM. School tours cannot be scheduled for 1:00 PM or 3:00 PM. School tours are available Tuesday through Friday. The museum is closed on Mondays.

Food & Drink

Lunches can be brought and eaten on the grounds. The Hearthside Room in the Visitor Center may be available as a backup in case of inclement weather. Please contact our office for availability.


We appreciate chaperones, but we ask that you limit parent chaperones to 2 adults per visit - not including teachers and staff.

Special Programming

We offer tours specifically designed for grades 2nd through 5th. Please see below for details.

Time Travelers

2nd Grade Program

Students will discover how historical documents and artifacts can lead to answers to historical questions. During a guided tour of the mansion, students will learn how the building itself is a historical artifact that provides a look into the past.

program purpose

Students will be introduced to Isaac Ellwood and the barbed wire industry in DeKalb, learning how barbed wire impacted the lives of the Ellwood family and why Isaac Ellwood was important to the development of DeKalb.

Program Logistics

The program lasts 90 minutes. Please call our office at 815-756-4609 or email Audrey King at king@ellwoodhouse.org for more information or to book this program.

Hard Work


Students see and feel what life was like for those individuals who worked for the Ellwood family around the turn of the twentieth century. While touring the mansion's work areas and staff living quarters, students will try hands-on some of the jobs done by staff members.

program PURPOSE

The program familiarizes students with differences in lifestyle between the Ellwood family and their working class staff. Students will gain an appreciation for the complexity and physicality of working at the Ellwood House. Students will also learn about the immigration experience and how education, language, and practical skills determine the types of jobs available to the Ellwood House staff.


The program lasts 90 minutes. Please call our office at 815-756-4609 or email Audrey King at king@ellwoodhouse.org for more information or to book this program.