One object is worth a thousand words. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore's museum collection contains thousands of objects, archival materials, and photographic negatives and prints. Each tells a story of Northwest Indiana's social, cultural, economic, and natural history. If this collection could be physically gathered under one roof an enthusiast of historical items would be excited to see such pieces as: an Eastlake table used by the Bailly family, Railroad Car Number 33 from the original South Shore Line's commuter train, the marriage portrait of the Chellbergs, or the sign that hung at the entrance to U.S. Steel's Good Fellow Club Youth Camp.
The cultural collection includes the categories of history and archeology. Collecting priority focuses on objects associated with national lakeshore resources,persons, or events commemorated by the national lakeshore. Historic artifacts relate to the Bailly Homestead, Chellberg Family, South Shore Railroad, World's Fair Houses, and administrative history of the national lakeshore.
The archeological collection comprises approximately 2,400 artifacts and specimens stored at the national lakeshore including material from Honerkamp's 1968 survey of the national lakeshore area and Limp's 1974 Bailly Archeological Study. The collection also contains a multitude of items stored at the Midwest Archeological Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Collecting and maintaining a natural history collection also enhances research, resource management, and interpretive programs at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Currently, the collection contains about 750 zoological specimens, including taxidermic mounts. The collection includes two insect collections as well as 1900 plant specimens stored in a herbarium.