Open today 9:30 am - 4:30 pm

New Date: Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Sponsor or Donate Online

Sponsor or Donate


The Chicago History Museum has postponed the Making History Awards to Tuesday, October 6, 2020 and will the host the program as a virtual event. This difficult decision was made in support of the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago’s efforts to encourage social distancing.

We hope you will stand with us and lend your support to our largest annual fundraiser this year. We understand that these times are difficult, but a commitment today would mean so much to ensure we will be able to continue to share Chicago’s stories and serve as a hub of scholarship, learning, inspiration, and civic engagement.

Details on the virtual program will be available on this page in early September.

Recognizing Extraordinary Contributions to Chicago

Over the past twenty-five years, the Making History Awards have honored 113 Chicagoans and 13 Chicago companies whose enduring contributions to art and culture, sports, and business, and civic life have made Chicago a better, and more vibrant place to live. The Chicago History Museum inaugurated this event in 1995 to provide vital financial support to the Museum’s operations and programs. More  than twenty-five years later, this event is still a cornerstone of the institution supporting the Museum’s mission to share Chicago’s stories.

2020 26th Anniversary Making History Awards Honorees

Carol Lavin Bernick, CEO, Polished Nickel Capital Management
The Berthe Honoré Palmer Making History Award for Distinction in Civic Leadership
Presented by James J. O’Connor

Jim and Kay Mabie, Civic Leaders 
The Theodore Thomas Making History Award for Distinction in Performing Arts
Presented by James L. Alexander 

Lester H. McKeever, Jr., Partner, Mitchell Titus 
The Harold Washington Making History Award for Distinction in Public Service
Presented by Andrew J. McKenna 

Col. (IL) Jennifer N. Pritzker IL ARNG (Ret.), President & Founder, TAWANI Foundation and Chair & Founder, Pritzker Military Museum & Library 
The John Hope Franklin Making History Award for Distinction in Historical Scholarship
Presented by John W. Rowe 

Joanne C. Smith, M.D., President & CEO, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab
The Enrico Fermi Making History Award for Distinction in Science, Medicine, and Technology
Presented by Shirley W. Ryan

Edward J. Wehmer, Founder & CEO, Wintrust Financial Corporation 
The Cyrus McCormick Making History Award for Historic Corporate Achievement
Presented by Matthew Walsh

See the list of past Making History Awards Honorees

25th Anniversary Making History Award Donors

Contact Us

For more information on supporting or attending the Making History Awards, please contact Eric Sharp, development coordinator, at [email protected] or 312.799.2110.

Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago's Stories