Take a walk around the Barrington History Museum with Joe Voss and you’ll soon learn he’s a walking encyclopedia of interesting historical tidbits. And he likes to tell jokes and come up with quizzes for visitors along the way.
The retired civil engineer, who lives with wife Cathy on Baker Lake, is passionate about the volunteer work he’s been dedicated to for the past five years. His official title is Vice President of Building and Grounds, but he wears many hats. He has curated several exhibits, including the Toy exhibit a few years ago and the current “Women in the U.S. Military” exhibit. As a member of the American WaterWorks Association, he also chaired a museum exhibit at its annual statewide conference, Water Con and then brought it up here to Barrington History Museum. Sometimes, he’ll take an exhibit that’s portable to local senior citizen homes for them to appreciate. And he’s the docent who leads visitors on Saturday tours of the museum. “I like it when people come by and tell me their stories, or show an interest in things we have on display,” says Voss.
Voss is a voracious reader, too—historical fiction, histories (he just finished The Battle of Midway by Craig Sydmonds), and Clive Cussler books “because he weaves history into them.” And he loves to visit history museums and sites all over the state, the country, and even the world. He’s visited museums in France, Canada, Israel, Greece, and 17 U.S. States; and travelled to many of our national parks. “One museum in Canada felt like home,” he laughs.
Mostly, though, Voss wants more people to appreciate history, write down their family stories, donate historical items to be preserved, and visit the Barringotn History Museum more often.
“We are all volunteers and run with no tax dollars at the museum,” he says. “I believe in preserving the past, because if you don’t know where you’ve been, you won’t know where you are going to go.”
Current exhibits at Barrington History Museum include Jewel Tea, Fire Fighting, Wedding Dresses, Toys, School House, Communication, and Miller’s Grove—with tours led by Joe Voss every Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. The upcoming “Marshall Field of Chicago” event, portrayed by Mr. R. J. Lindsey, will take place on September 21 at 1 p.m. For more information, call 847-381-1700 or visit barringtonhistorymuseum.org.
What’s on his Bucket List:
“Relocate to Texas to be closer to our daughter.”
“Curate an engineering exhibit at the Barrington History Museum.”
“See more of this country, including Southwestern national parks.”