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An upcoming Illinois museum exhibit will create nostalgia for a particular group of people

One generation is dubbed the last of the analog age. An Illinois museum is highlighting this group with its first generational type show.

“Growing up Generation X” is coming to Illinois State Museum this fall. Erika Holst is the curator of history at the museum. She said Generations Xers are upended by the Boomers and Millennials.

“So, it's a small generation. It's kind of like a brief time frame,” she explained. “And it's kind of overlooked a lot. I think it's like popular culture. So, it's like time to give this generation its moment in the sun.”

Holst said the museum is asking for people who are a part of this “latchkey generation” to send photos and other memorabilia for the exhibit.

“You know, it's kind of like the ephemeral. Like, if someone has their slap bracelets or trapper keeper or any of their America Online discs,” she said, “or their original Nintendo or Atari.”

These are some items that most Generation Xers grew up using. The items will be returned once the display ends.

Holst said another vision for the exhibit is for the museum to recreate a 1980s recreation room.

“That will be totally hands on COVID and public health willing,” she noted, “but we want to set up a place where you can like sit down and actually like play a Nintendo or pop a cassette into a tape deck and listen to a tape or make a mixtape.”

Those wanting to contribute to this exhibit should complete a Generation X survey on the museum’s website. The exhibit is set to open in October.

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at

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