Nestled into a corner of Lincoln Park, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum brings nature and science to Chicago.
With the most hands-on activities of any museum in the city it connects the urban community with the world that surrounds it.
The museum began as the Chicago Academy of Sciences in 1857. It quickly grew to house one of the most significant collections in the country. Unfortunately, it was one of the casualties of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
In true Chicago spirit, the Academy quickly rebuilt its collection, enabling visitors to study the area’s natural history. For a century it lived in the Laflin Memorial Building. In 1999 the Academy moved to its current location and became the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.
The exhibits reflect the museum’s mission to connect people with nature and science. You can learn how to identify the birds that are in Chicago and see where chocolate comes from. See how rivers flow with RiverWorks, take a walk on the wild side with the Wilderness Walk and the Nature Trails. Little kids will enjoy the Hands-On Habitats and the Green House, and older kids can get a glimpse into how scientists care for their “Living Collection”.
The most popular and well known exhibit at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven. This is a glass domed room filled with thousands of butterflies. It’s worth a visit to the museum to see these beautiful creatures alone.
The Museum’s specimens include:
- 13,800 birds
- 11,100 bird eggs and nests
- 5,100 mammals
- 22,800 amphibian and reptiles
- 68,500 insects
- 109,200 mollusks
- 15,500 plants
- 500 linear feet of manuscripts and other paper records
- 1,300 motion picture films
- 2,300 cultural artifacts
- 100,000 photographic images
- 22,000 fossils
- 11,000 geologic specimens
Like other Chicago museums, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum also hosts events, including Tea with the Turtles, Bunking with the Butterflies, and Butterfly Haven Yoga. There are also classes for all ages and day camps for kids.
Admission to the museum is $9 for adults, $7 for students and seniors, and $6 for children ages 3 to 12. Thursdays are suggested donation days for Illinois residents. Basically that means they’d like for you to pay, but you don’t have to.
The museum is open year round Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 5pm. It’s closed the first Friday in May and Thanksgiving and Christmas days.
If you’re looking to get back in touch with nature without leaving the city, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is a great spot for you to visit.