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by smmmarti guide
July 9, 2003
If you have lost touch with your sense of wonder at this gift of nature, it’s time to step lively to the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Situated at the northernmost end of Lincoln Park, the new educational center hosts thousands of nature’s beauties from seven different countries in a 28 ft tall greenhouse. Here you will see butterflies you‘ve never imagined, and will be astounded at the variety of colors, sizes and patterns that flicker by.
Not solely a haven for butterflies, children and photographers are particularly fond of the moist, warm shelter. If, during your trek to Costa Rica or Malaysia, you missed your shot, you’ll find the perfect photo op here.
This is the only butterfly breeding lab in North America. Visitors are intrigued by the chrysalis rack, where hundreds of butterflies hang upside down by a cremaster awaiting emergence of their new forms. Children witness the miracle of nature and learn butterfly facts; that butterflies are cold blooded; when their wings are open, they are gathering heat, when closed, they are warm enough. (One area of the shelter is known as "the beach" since so many butterflies gather there for sunbathing.)
Many believe it is good luck for a butterfly to light on your shoulder yet, guests are encouraged to check themselves in the full-length mirror for "passengers" that may unwittingly hitch a ride. (It‘s a cold, unlucky world outside the shelter for butterflies).
The Nature Museum is more than just butterfly fancy. Walk through the wilderness and examine specimens from the extensive collections of the nature museum, develop your own water works, or explore the ecology center "Extreme Green House."
The Nature Museum’s mission is to bring awareness of the area’s natural resources and ecology to the public. As an extension of the Chicago Society of Science, founded in 1857 by my personal local hero, Robert Kennicott, who grew up in Glenview at the Grove, the nature museum serves to connect urban dwellers with their natural world and develop enrichment and educational programs. Although many special events and exhibits are held onsite, there are many more outreach programs offered through the society via schools and clubs.
Currently, a special exhibit called "Magic: the Science of Illusion" is drawing big crowds. Expect a true frenzy when the Jane Goodall and Galapagos exhibits open in September, 2003.
Thrill a child and bring them where astonishment abounds. No kids? Take the one residing in your heart.
From journal Chicago Summer Classics
November 2, 2003
Enter the exhibit, step into the African jungle, and explore the world of chimpanzees through Jane Goodall's eyes. At the Observation Station visitors are asked to watch a movie clip of chimpanzees and take notes on their behavior. Watch a male chimp aggressively run through the forest grabbing branches and throwing rocks or another chimp fishing for ants with a stick he uses for a tool. All these behaviors are explained in detail easy for children to follow.
Around the corner step into a tent similar to the one Jane lived in for several years at the base camp set up while conducting her research. Here you can watch videos and learn about her daily camp life and her first interactions with the chimpanzees.
Then, wander through the treetops to experience the world of chimpanzees yourself. Dynamic activities make you feel as though you are one of the animals. Walk down a path with a pair of chimp arms so you can see what it is like to walk like a chimp. Did you know that chimpanzees have nests? Kids can climb and explore a treetop nest of a chimpanzee and see what it's like.
Several kiosks are set up with all sorts of interactive ideas. One of the most unique is a kiosk where you can see if you can imitate chimp calls. Choose from a variety of chimp situations and watch the various calls a chimp can make. Then you can record yourself trying to imitate the calls and see how good you did. I was a bit intimidated making chimp noises but there was no one around when I tried it. A little child about 5 years old barged in front of me to record himself. I tried to show him how but apparently he already knew and he hit the record button and started hooting and hollering away. If was very funny. He liked it so much he kept running around the entire exhibit pretending to be a chimp. Even when he fell down he kept making the noises and continued on all fours.
There is also a scale where you can weigh yourself. Instead of seeing pounds, you find out which primate your weigh compares to such as a grown up gorillas, a gibbon or a baby orangutan. There is also a place where you compare your strength to that of a wild chimpanzee or other primate the squeezing with one hand as hard as you can. You find out which primate you are as strong as. Boy, those guys are strong! None of us came close.
From journal Chicago: Museum Exhibits during the Fall of 2003
August 10, 2003
The definitive experience is a visit to the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven. It is fun to wander into the humid sanctuary to witness a lovely collection of living butterflies in an approximation of their natural environment. Over 50 species of butterflies are housed in this greenhouse. There is an interesting area with delicate butterfly chrysalides, which look like beautifully fine pieces of jewelry in their display.
Other displays include a Wilderness Walk through prairie environments, with full-scale mock-ups of animals and plants and piped-in sounds. Check out the various displays of living insects scurrying about safely behind glass displays, such as the ant farm and the water bugs. Kids will also enjoy the City Science and Water Lab displays. This latter exhibit includes what is basically a glorified sandbox, with water, sand, and instruments to create make-believe land and water topographies.
Cap off your visit at the Nature Museum Shop, which is small but has an amusing array of gifts and toys that are fun and educational as well. There is a cafe with light snacks and refreshments. The second floor has an outdoor patio from which you can look out at the surroundings, with large trees, ponds, and gardens.
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is a bit out of the way, as it is about three miles north of the downtown area. If you have a spot of time and want to reconnect with nature while in the urban jungle, the museum is worth a visit. The place definitely caters to kids, but it is fun for adults also.
From journal Bill at home in CHICAGO - Activities
los angeles, California
February 25, 2003
There is a downtown about three blocks long full of one-of-a-kind shops, the antithesis to Oak Brook mall, where we'd spent another afternoon of our vacation. There are also several really good parks/nature areas in Downers' Grove that are worth the drive.
Surprise attraction? The train runs right into downtown and my nieces had never seen a train before. They were absolutely fascinated by it and we wound up sitting on a bench opposite the tracks for a really really long time. I reminded myself it was a free activity and I could enjoy myself some other vacation.
Another surprise? A couple of really good independent book stores with vast children's sections. We spent hours in both bookstores (Anderson's Bookshop and Brain Snacks), so long in fact that I felt obliged to buy something at both of them - but I never mind buying the kids books.
From journal Chicago on a Budget with Children