The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is a nature museum located in Chicago, Illinois
Founded in 1857 by the Chicago Academy of Sciences, the museum, which opened in its present facility in October 1999, is located at the intersection of Fullerton Parkway and Cannon Drive in Lincoln Park. The museum focuses on the natural history of the Chicago region, and offers educational programs for children and adults. It is known for its live butterfly house.
The museum is operated by the Chicago Academy of Sciences, which had previously been located at Lincoln Park's century old Matthew LaflinMemorial Building. The Academy was founded in 1857 by young prominent American naturalists, such as Robert Kennicott and William Stimpson. It was Chicago’s first museum dedicated to nature and science, and developed one of the finest natural history collections in the United States in the mid-19th century, but that collection was lost in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The museum was rebuilt but lost its home again in the financial turmoil of the 1880s.
The museum then built a building in Lincoln Park in 1898, which became the model for the Chicago Park District's museum-in-the-parks program. The old museum attracted many visitors with its naturalistic dioramas of area ecological settings. In the 1990s, a new home for the museum was constructed nearby, on the southeastern banks of the North Pond. Its old building is currently used for Lincoln Park Zoo administration.
The original series of long-term exhibitions and botanic recreations around the building – including Butterfly Haven, City Science house, Water Lab and Wilderness Walk habitat exhibits – were developed by a team of Academy staff, led by Paul G. Heltne, Kevin Coffee and Douglas Taron, and designed by Lee H. Skolnick Design + Architecture Partnership with Carol Naughton Associates.
The museum's exhibits today include displays about the ecological history of the Illinois region, a live butterfly house, and a green home demonstration. The butterfly house features more than 200 species of native and exotic butterflies. One of the museum's ongoing scientific efforts is the study, care, and breeding of native butterflies for species population support in the Chicago area. The museum also offers more than 100 educational programs in the natural sciences for adults and children.
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