The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum may not be as famous as the Field Museum of Natural History or the Museum of Science and Industry, but its history is just as rich. It was founded in 1857, and until the Great Fire of 1871, had one of the finest natural history collections of any museum in the United States. Unfortunately, almost everything was lost to the flames. It’s been rebuilt twice since then (its former home is now an administration building at Lincoln Park Zoo) and is well worth a visit.
One of the most popular exhibits is the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven. The Butterfly Haven is home to over 1,000 butterflies from 75 different species. Set in a 2,700 square-foot greenhouse, it is a refuge from the hustle and bustle of the Windy City, where visitors can observe butterflies and birds while enjoying flowers, pools of water, and tropical trees.
The Lost Bird Project is a collection of outdoor sculptures, portraying North American birds that have gone extinct. It complements the Micole Birdwalk, where visitors can observe the local birds.
The museum contains both permanent and traveling exhibits for young and old. In addition to the many indoor exhibits, Nature Trails is an outdoor exhibit. It’s a third of a mile that wanders through wetland, woodland, urban prairie, and the Woody Wickham Butterfly Garden. Compare it with the Wilderness Walk on the museum’s second floor, which recreates local ecology with scenes from savanna, native prairie, and lake dune ecosystems.
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