Butterflies, flowers and skyscrapers?
One of these things may not seem like it belongs, but at the
Peggy Notebeart Nature Museum's new permanent exhibit, "Nature
Trails," families can enjoy the great outdoors without leaving
Chicago. "Nature Trails" is the latest addition to Chicago's
urban garden, where a third of a mile of trail winds through the
interactive experience just outside the museum's doors.
"We're proud and excited to bring "Nature Trails" to
Chicagoans and provide a rich way for our guests to connect with
the nature that surrounds them right here in the heart of our
city," says Deborah Lahey, the museum's president and CEO.
Chicago wasn't always beachfront and blacktop, and "Nature
Trails" gives visitors a sense - sights, sounds and smells - of the
region's native flora and fauna. At Burr Oak Savannah and Black Oak
Savannah, families can visit prairies, savannas, wetlands and
woodlands. For animal lovers, it's a short walk over to
Pickerelweed Pond to see dragonfly larvae, diving beetles and
tadpoles, or to the museum's existing outdoor butterfly and bird
gardens, which were both revamped for the exhibit.
"Nature Trails" is free to the public - you don't have to go
through the museum to get there - and joins the Lincoln Park Zoo's
"Nature Boardwalk" in carving out a broad, kid- and
stroller-friendly nature area inside the park.
The original intent of the Nature Museum was to have educational
and interactive areas insidethe building and outside, Lahey
says. As time went on, the museum became more focused on its
indoor exhibits, but this new exhibit fully embraces the museum's
"We are excited to connect people to urban nature inside the
Nature Museum and outside on our grounds," Lahey says. "It's
important for us to have connection inside and out."
Lahey encourages families to take the information found
throughout the garden and use it as they journey inside the
museum's exhibits, like the Judy Istock Butterfly
Haven, Wilderness Walk and Mysteries of the Marsh. The
museum's newest indoor exhibit is "Nature's Architects," which
teaches kids about animal builders from termites to beavers and the
structures they create (take a video tour of
"It's a wonderful opportunity to be outside and pick up little
things about the world around you," Lahey says.
"Nature Trails" is free and open year-round. The Peggy
Notebaert Nature Museum is located at 2430 N. Cannon Drive,
Chicago, (773) 755-5100, naturemuseum.org
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