Free Thursdays Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Where: 2430 North Cannon Drive, 773-755-5191.
When: Free day (suggested donation) is Thursday for Illinois residents.
The museums mission is to teach the importance of nature and science.”At 73,000 square feet it’s much smaller and more manageable than other Chicago museums.
- The Judy Istock Butterfly Haven is the museum’s internationally renowned signature 2,700 square foot greenhouse. Home to more than 1,000 butterflies (75 species), the Haven is the perfect tropical retreat.
- Broken Journey: Photography by Art Fox celebrates the beauty and mysteries hidden within nature. By documenting migratory birds whose journeys have been cut short, his work provokes the viewer to be drawn in through beauty and be led toward deeper meanings.
- Beecher Collections Laboratory see scientists engaged in real taxidermy of bison, skunks, coyotes and more.
- Hands-on Habitat: Knee-high naturalists can explore the secret world of animal homes. Adventures include exploring an underground cave, a giant roped spider web and a busy beaver lodge.
- Istock Family Look-in Lab: Watch as Museum scientists and volunteers care for and study the animals that comprise the Museum’s Living Collection.
- RiverWorks: Splash your way through this exhibit as you discover that only real lazy rivers are the ones you find at water parks. Rivers are nature’s own flood controls and are filled with species of fish, herons, beavers and painted turtles. Interact with RiverWorks by reversing the flow of the river, turn the river into a lake, build your own dam and even control a water turbine.
- Wilderness Walk: So many different environments are found in Chicago. Walk through a recreation of a prairie, savanna and dune, complete with authentic sounds and preserved animals.
- Birds of Chicago: Get up close to the birds you see in your backyard and discover how to identify them by their sounds. More than 115 specimens, including the Midwest turkey, cardinal and endangered Prairie chicken are on display from the Chicago Academy of Sciences Collections. Choose which ones you want to hear by touching the screen on the interactive kiosk.
- Cost $33m. $10M Funded by the Chicago Park District; $20m from fundraising
- The building was designed by Ralph Johnson who designed the International Terminal at O’hare and the Oceanarium at the Shedd Aquarium.
- The only museum specializing in the natural history and ecology of the Midwest.
- 4,300 square foot Judy Istock Butterfly Haven named after designed by Lee H. Skolnik Architecture & Design Partnership. 30-foot-high, 40-by-70-foot
- 6.35-acre site provided by the Chicago Park District
- Five areas of outdoors a pond and woodland edge, a prairie, a deep-shaded woods and a ravine community with limestone outcroppings.
Timeline of Museum
- 1857 Chicago Academy of Sciences founded. The primary purpose is to preserve plant and animal specimens from the Chicago region and the state. It is Chicago’s oldest Museum.
- 1871 The original building at Wabash and VanBuren, the entire collection, records and library were destroyed by the Chicago Fire. The building had been built in 1868 and was considered fireproof so there was no insurance.
- 1886 The replacement building was lost in foreclosure.
- 1893 The $100k Matthew Laflin Memorial Building (2001 N. Clark) opens and the Museum with a rebuilt collection moves in. The Laflin Building is located in Lincoln Park and is named after the gunpowder and real estate magnate who contributed $75k.
- 1994-1997 The museum moves to temporary digs at North Pier while it’s new building is being built. Lincoln Park Zoo administrative offices relocate into the Laflin Building where they still reside.
- 1999 the Museum was renamed the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum after Mr. Notebaert (CEOof Ameritech) made a $4 miilion dollar donation in honor of their 30th wedding anniversary.
- 1999 New Museum 73,000 square foot building opens.