Packingtown Museum at The Plant -- coming soon!

Mission. The mission of the Packingtown Museum is to preserve, interpret, and present the industrial history and cultural heritage of Chicago’s Union Stock Yard and surrounding neighborhoods.

Vision. Housed in The Plant, the former Peer Foods packinghouse turned collaborative food business community and circular economy demonstration, the Packingtown Museum offers a unique opportunity to connect Chicago’s industrial past to its future and inform contemporary conversations about labor, immigration, food production, community development, and the economy. Through permanent and temporary exhibits and educational programs in a partially renovated space that retains elements of the original ham freezer, dating to 1925, the Packingtown Museum aims to make the social, cultural, political, and industrial history of region maximally accessible and relevant to visitors.

The future Packingtown Museum space was open at The Plant during Open House Chicago 2017. It included a preview of the museum themes and featured a map of the Union Stock Yard and Packingtown Railroad Connections dated May 1, 1891, on loan from the Dominic A. Pacyga Collection.

The future Packingtown Museum space was open at The Plant during Open House Chicago 2017. It included a preview of the museum themes and featured a map of the Union Stock Yard and Packingtown Railroad Connections dated May 1, 1891, on loan from the Dominic A. Pacyga Collection.

The Packingtown Museum’s curatorial vision includes 6 key themes:

·      Development of the Union Stock Yard (1865 – contemporary Stockyard Industrial District) and Central Manufacturing District

·      Industrial and economic history and the food system: role of the factory system, refrigeration and the growth of meat industry, deindustrialization, the circular economy

·      Neighborhood identities and evolution: Back of the Yards, Bridgeport, Canaryville/Between The Tracks, McKinley Park, Englewood, Bronzeville

·      Immigration and Diversity: the role of immigration in fueling industrial labor, ethnic and religious mix in the neighborhoods and their evolution over time

·      Labor history: key strikes and organizations, role of Chicago’s unions in broader labor movement

·      History of the building: from Peer Foods packinghouse to The Plant

The collection will include a mix of historical artifacts, maps and photographs, and interactive (audio/visual) displays, and there will be opportunities for visitors to engage with and contribute to the ongoing collection of information about the area.

Rationale.  The South Side of Chicago’s role in the development of industrialization – of food, in particular – is locally relevant and globally significant.  The story of the development of the Union Stock Yard, the people who worked in them, and the neighborhoods that grew up around it includes chapters on organized labor, the role of immigration in fueling the growth of city and economy, and the changing relationship between people, machines, and food. All of these historical themes are relevant to the political and social dynamics of Chicago and the United States today. Through a better understanding of and appreciation for this 150-year history, we can be more engaged and thoughtful participants in the present and future that is unfolding right in front of us at The Plant. 

Planning Committee. Initial planning for the Packingtown Museum is being spearheaded by a volunteer organizing committee, as follows:

-      John Edel, founder of Bubbly Dynamics, LLC and The Plant

-      Ivan Guzman, intern with Bubbly Dynamics, LLC, and master’s student in Museum and Exhibition Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago

-      Alaina Harkness, research fellow with the Brookings Institution

-      Jacob Kaplan, co-founder and editor of Forgotten Chicago

-      Carolee Kokola, director of operations for Bubbly Dynamics, LLC, with experience in historic preservation

-      Mayra Lopez-Zuniga, district director for Office of State Representative Theresa Mah and long-time Back of the Yards resident

-      Dominic Pacyga, professor of history at Columbia College (retired) and author of the books Slaughterhouse, Chicago: A Biography, and several other books concerning local history

-      Erica Ruggiero, architectural historian

-      Jackie Wiese, auxiliary board president of Plant Chicago, NFP, with experience in historic preservation

Contact. For questions or to provide input, please contact info (at)

Bubbly Dynamics would like to thank the following supporters for their generous contributions to the fundraising efforts for the creation and development of the Packingtown Museum:

Mike Donaghue

Hildingsson Oshlyansky family

Alaina Harkness & Ryan Wilson


Mark Edel

Eric Pearson

Margaret Maloney

Stephen J Navarre

Matt Bergstrom

Vicki Capalbo

Richard and Victoria Wronski

Chad Broughton

Robert Pacyga

Bobby Kennedy

Deborah Mercer

Cheryl Johnson-Odim

Lana Merrill

Christina Schmidt

Kris and Anne Lucius

Vanessa Smith

Scott Kroll

Matt Avery

Kellie O'Connell

Abby Lundrigan

Dori Darras

Joe Germuska

Laura and Daniel Klitgaard

Keefer Dunn

Jason R Williams PhD

Adam Hallihan

Carolynne Kent

Lucas Daniel

W. Sterner and M. Browning

Michelle Nickerson

Robert Slayton

Margaret Hicks

David Gerber

Phil & Gwen Nyden

John Gieger

Victoria Matranga

Just John

Jonathan Pereira

Kassie Hinrichsen

Roger Biles

Timothy Mennel

Susana and Robin Croke

Joseph Gustaitis

Will Guzzardi

Michaelene and Phillip Battaglia

Harry Meyer

Elaine Enarson

Jack Metzgar

In Honor Of Brendan Scanlon

Thomas Jablonsky

Eric Allix Rogers

Ann and John Keating

Kathy Kean

Noah Vaughn

Tom & Anne Kamykowski


Williams-Clark Family

Jackie Wiese

John Lankford

Claire Schuster

Elizabeth Quinlan

Jeff Jarosz

Katie O'Dea

Candi Huber

Lindsey LaPointe

The Hilt-Diels

Tom & Marge Fashing

Melody Kokola

Jerry and Joan Dworkin

Deborah & Paul Doppelt

Stockyards Brick

David August Skoog

Kate Goyer

Damiane Nickles

Claire Feinberg

Grace Kim

George Pitsoulakis

Katie Boom

Mike Donaghue

Kathryn Tokarz Roberts

Roland Kulla

Mick Souder

Karen Faulkner

Bill Savage

Diane Haleas

Rima Lunin Schultz

Neli Pagano

Lisa Oppenheim

Kris and Nick Grzyb

Graham and Rosemary Peck

Katharine Hamerton and Constantine Megaridis

Steven Corey and Alexandra Filindra

NA Pritz & KM Slomski

Dean Pinos

Meghan Thomas

George & Kathy Jasinski

The Jackroller's granddaughter

Carol Yamamoto

Dr. MZ

Theresa Hemmer

Jim Walker

Bobbi Zabel

Erik Newman

T. Pacyga

Regina Bowgierd and John Kulczycki

Daniel Pogorzelski

James B Dombrowski

Rigoberto & Angela Lopez

My Kind of Town

Jacob Strom

John Donmoyer

Joseph Miceli

Fred and Martha Ash

Elise Zelechowski and Tony Bezsylko

Margaret Garrity

Cynthia Leung

Kenzie Cameron and Steve Dickerson

Patrick Byrne


Kelley Hanada

Joe Millham

Marc Alan Parsons

AG Willis

Isaac Doppelt

Leah Handel

Rebecca Bohrman

Karin Lerer-Blakolmer

Eva Penar

Stacy and Lauren Peters-Pratt

Anthony Casimir Alfaro

Joe, Vanessa and Emmy Seliga

Scott Wozencraft


Bob Weissbourd

Donna Norkus

D & S McManus


Roy and Kathy Waller

Roy and Marge Lancor

Leo Smith

Elena Smith

Cristin McCurdy

Beatrice Pacyga

Walter Nugent

Sandra M. Colbert

Kathleen Alaimo

Barbara M. Posadas

Michael and Suzanne Caplan

Linda Barnes

Bob Deppen / Insulated Panel Co

Alec Weege

Annette J. Knitter

Erika M Schmidt

Megan McGlynn Scanlon

Peter Hedin

Ryan Green

Carolee Kokola

Drew Huening

Jerry Paluch


Kim Werst