The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum opened in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago in 1999. The Museum, named in honor of Peggy Notebaert, wife of Quest Chairman, Richard Notebaert, is operated by the Chicago Academy of Sciences. Its main objective is to provide information and education to city dwellers and visitors in an effort to promote environmental awareness and protection. The building itself uses solar energy and water conservation, along with a 17,000 square foot rooftop garden as a green project and an insulating feature. Green conservation is also apparent in the three-story cliff wall garden, climbing vines, large windows for natural light, and a reflecting pool.

The Notebaert Nature Museum has a number of eco-friendly permanent exhibits of nature and wildlife, as well as interactive displays. River Works includes a description of the waterways around the city and provides visitors the opportunity to observe live animals, simulate reversing the flow of a river, build a dam, or maneuver boats. At the same time, the exhibit provides information on the benefits of non-polluted rivers and environmentally friendly river plants. Hands on Habitat is a play area for ages 3 to 7, where they can climb a two-story treehouse, watch bugs through binoculars, or collect and sort fish from an Explorer Boat. Kids can explore animal homes, learn how beavers live, why animals use camouflage, and how they live together in a shared environment. Adults will appreciate the Extreme Green House, a fully equipped home that has every amenity to encourage environmental preservation. Through this life-size display, they’ll learn about recycling, composting, natural foods and food preparation, conservation tips, and other green living concerns.

One of the most popular attractions at the Museum is the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven, a year-round garden of butterflies, tropical trees, pools of water, and flowers. This colorful exhibit in a 2700 square foot greenhouse lets visitors experience over 75 different species of butterflies, with thousands of new ones arriving weekly. Many of these are native to Chicago and Illinois, and others from around the world are blue morphos and banded tiger from Central and South America; rice paper butterflies, blue rims, and chocolate pansies from Asia; and 11 species from Africa, including the Citrus and White Lady Swallowtails. Butterfly enthusiasts will learn more about the different species, the distinctions between moths and butterflies, pollination, and metamorphosis.

Another interesting exhibit at the Museum is the Mysteries of the Marsh, a video presentation and journey through the midwestern wetlands and a look-in animal lab of live animals and carnivorous plants that live in these regions. Visitors can watch the Museum’s scientists and volunteers in their daily work of feeding, breeding, and care of over 45 different species of animals including scorpions, water snakes, water bugs, dragonflies, and black widow spiders. The Butterfly Restoration Project for breeding new species is ongoing at the same time in this area.

In addition, there are three realistic environments to explore along the Wilderness Walk, the prairie, the savannah, and the dune. Along with natural lighting and sound, live and preserved animal life such as white-tailed deer, coyote, amphibians, and reptiles can be seen. Special events such as a spectacular, glowing display of nature with its creatures of bioluminescent light and other educational programs and exhibits are sponsored by the Museum throughout the year.

Hours: Monday — Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday & Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and May 5.
General Admission: Adults $7.00, seniors & students $5.00, children 3-12 $4.00.
Parking $22.00 for entire day. Gift shop and café on premises.

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