About Us

Our Mission

The mission of the Schingoethe Center of Aurora University is to foster inquiry, celebrate artistic excellence, preserve and perpetuate Native American cultures, and inspire a lifelong engagement with the visual arts. An agent of and catalyst for teaching and learning on the Aurora University campus, the museum is integral to the academic community. The museum provides cultural and historical enrichment that builds bridges between the classroom and the world beyond.

Building on its tradition of object-based learning, the museum brings people and objects together using interdisciplinary approaches. State-of-the-art exhibition spaces combine with a lecture hall, classroom space, study center, and our library and rare book collection, to facilitate access to the collection. The museum also serves the broader community with unique exhibits and programs. The Schingoethe Center supports Aurora University's continuous 100-year tradition of valuing the arts.



Herbert and Martha Schingoethe

Connoisseurs and collectors of Native American cultural artifacts, Herbert and Martha Schingoethe had long felt that Aurora University was a great educational asset to the community and region. In 1989, this belief, along with their desire to encourage others to learn about America's original inhabitants, prompted them to commission the building of Dunham Hall. Named in honor of Martha's family, Dunham Hall provided the original setting for the Schingoethe Center (now the Schingoethe Center of Aurora University resides inside the Hill Welcome Center), which opened to the public in 1990, as well as for the University's School of Business and Public Policy. The Schingoethes donated their collection of over 6,000 items of Native American arts, artifacts, and related materials and, in addition, provided major support for the Center and its activities.

Martha Dunham Schingoethe passed away on February 17, 2004, Herb on March 18, 2005. In the years following the establishment of the Center, they had continued to take a close and active interest in the museum and its programs, and we will miss them very much. The Schingoethes made a major contribution, both to the educational enterprise of the University and to the cultural life of the Aurora community, through their collections and their support of the Center. We invite you to come and share in this rich legacy.



Award-Winning Exhibits

  • Native Peoples of Illinois: 1673-1835, Award of Superior Achievement from the Illinois State Historical Society (2001), Curators: Dona Bachman, Mary Kennedy and Meg Bero
  • Museum of the Mysteries, Awards of Superior Achievement from Illinois Association of Museums and Illinois State Historical Society (2002, 2003), Curator: Meg Bero
  • M.A.I.Z.E. (Museum Artifact Inquiry ZonE) educational project, Awards of Superior Achievement from Illinois Association of Museums and Illinois State Historical Society (2002, 2003)
  • Nizhoni Gallery and The World of the Kachina, Award of Excellence from Illinois Association of Museums (2003), Curator: Meg Bero
  • Unraveling Revelations: Decoding the Prophetic Charts, Award of Excellence in Exhibitions from Illinois Association of Museums (2012), Curators: Museum Exhibitions Students (Spring 2012)


Contact Us

Schingoethe Center
Aurora University
1315 Prairie Street
Aurora, IL 60506-4892

Front Desk

Natasha Didos Ritsma, PhD
Director & Museum Studies Instructor

Zachary Bishop, MA
Registrar & Museum Manager