Gilbert Historical Museum holds thousands of artifacts, photographs, oral histories and archives that chronicle Gilbert’s rich history. Visit our museum to explore the past, experience the present, and imagine the future as you stroll through our Exhibit Rooms. Discover the history that each room holds, as you explore it for yourself! Make sure you don’t miss our courtyard while you’re here; it’s packed with authentic farm equipment, some of which is almost 100 years old.
Don’t forget to stop by our Museum Gift Shop and pick up a souvenir before you leave. This room used to be the School Nurse’s office! Also, visit our Quilters’ Boutique in what used to be the Principal’s Office.
Home Life Exhibit
Have you ever wondered what an early Gilbert home looked like?
In our Home Life exhibit you can take a look at a living room and a bedroom to imagine how life was decades ago. It’s like looking through a window to the past.
Family & Generations Exhibit
In our Family & Generations room, you’ll find many items and artifacts donated by the descendants of some of Gilbert’s earliest families.
You’ll learn about the pioneering spirit of the people who shaped our town’s history, what they wore, what they did for fun, as well as the history of Gilbert’s first five churches. Much of this exhibit dates from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Just like any other American town, early Gilbert residents had to make a living. In the Occupations Exhibit you’ll discover our town’s deep agricultural roots. Did you know that Gilbert was once known as the Hay Shipping Capital of the World? Alfalfa, cotton and dairy farms were vital to the success of the town in the early 20th Century.
As with any agriculturally-based community, a number of professions and businesses sprouted up to support Gilbert farmers in their work. As the community grew, so did the variety of professions. Retail stores, auto garages, a pharmacy and a post office soon offered employment to local workers.
You’ll find many artifacts from early Gilbert Schools preserved in this exhibit. Children get a taste of old school life in an old-style classroom; some of our older visitors may remember back to when they themselves ran through the halls of this glorious old school building.
When our building, the elementary school, was built in 1913, students would often hitch a ride to school on a farm wagon heading to the new creamery. In 1977 the “Alamo”, as the building was nicknamed, was closed for classroom use. It reopened as the home of Gilbert’s history museum in 1982.
Gilbert was named after land speculator William (Bobby) M. Gilbert, who sold his land to the railroad. The railroad established a siding at the site, around which the town started to grow. Unfortunately the town’s railroad depot, built in 1905 just north of the tracks and west of Gilbert Road, was torn down in 1969.
In the Town Room visitors can see two dioramas of our community at different stages of its development (c1917 and c1944) and imagine what life was like! Examine the huge aerial photos of the Gilbert area taken decades ago; try to find where your home now sits, it was probably farmland way back when…
This exhibit celebrates the Gilbert residents who proudly served in our armed forces. With numerous uniforms, flags, weapons and many other items kindly donated by Gilbert residents and veterans, this room offers an interesting local perspective to World Wars I & II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
We have dozens of interesting artifacts brought back from ‘over there’ by the brave men and women who represented our town and our country in wars around the world.
Our Gallery is the temporary home for traveling art exhibits and shows throughout the year. The Gallery currently houses a temporary exhibit of Summer Local Art by the Gilbert Visual Art League.
The Gilbert Visual Art League offers a venue for local artists to show their work and strives to increase artistic awareness and appreciation in the community. They have two shows a year, in March and in November.
Model Train Exhibit
Gilbert wouldn’t be Gilbert without the railroad; in fact if it wasn’t for the track we wouldn’t be here! The sound of train horns blasting are constant reminders of Gilbert’s railroad past.
Our Model Train exhibit is a work in progress; we partnered with the Gilbert Model Railroad Club a few years ago and work continues every week. Our exhibit depicts the railroad as it was around WWII, showing the trains’ route to and from Gilbert. The Gilbert Model Railroad Club welcomes new members year round.
Live Quilting Bee
We’re proud to continue a traditional American craft – the art of hand-quilting lives on year round at the Gilbert Historical Museum. Our live quilting bee is one of only a handful of quilting bees in the country to still operate all year; you can find the live exhibit in our Home Life room.
Our group of quilting volunteers works on traditional wooden quilting frames to finish quilt tops that may never otherwise be completed. Their work benefits the museum financially, with proceeds from the completion of each quilt going to the museum. Stop by and say hello to the ladies in the Home Life exhibit during your next visit; you’ll find them there most Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings.