Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum has always been a go-to source
when it comes to figuring out the great state of Illinois and the
natural habitat. Now its new exhibit, Nature's Struggles, delves
more into the history of our state's nature and the ramifications
of not taking care of it properly.
Born out of the 100-year anniversary of the extinction of the
passenger pigeon, this exhibit tells the story of the loss through
the eyes of three child protagonists, Claude (1800s), Floyd (1900s)
and Nadia (2000s.) The last passenger pigeon, Martha, died in 1914.
This exhibit is the centerpiece of the Notebaert's Year of the
An interactive timeline from the floor to the ceiling show the
loss of prairie land and fowl as you walk through the exhibit. By
2050, you'll learn, our country could see the extinction of 25
percent of its native plant species.
While the information may seem a bit heavy, it is most certainly
child friendly. My children spent the most time in the reading
room, which was full of felt tree stumps for sitting, and a felt
wood and fire pit that children can sit around while listening to
There also are plenty of opportunities to get your John James
Audubon on and draw photos of wildlife. There are counting
activities with butterflies, birds and plants.
There are definitely plenty of learning points for adults and
children alike, and lots of areas that will give you pause. You can
share via Post-It how an animal has changed your life, and write on
a wall-sized chalkboard what you will do in order to better manage
your role into nature.
My children loved it, and that lets me know that the designers
of this exhibit not only wanted to share viable messages with
adults, but also get the children in their lives talking about ways
that they could be better stewards over the world that they live
in. The fact that it focuses on how to start in your own backyard
is even more valuable. Speaking in terms that children can
understand is pertinent to getting the message of conservation
All in all, I highly recommend Nature's Struggles, which is free
with admission to the museum. It officially opens Saturday and runs
through Oct. 19. Maximize your time and ability to walk through at
your pace by going through during the week. It opens at 9 a.m.
Bring your lunch to eat in the spacious, light-filled lunch
Natasha is 1/6 of the Nicholes clan who live in the heart of the city. She's a mother of four and the wife of a husband she met in 8th grade. Passionate about being heard, she started blogging when she found out she was having twins. Now she blogs because she's addicted.
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