As soon as we entered the exhibit, my three children and I were met with a large-scale motion mural that took us from Illinois in the early 1800s to Illinois of today. The landscapes change over time showing us how Illinois morphed from a prairie laden state to one filled with people and buildings. With three child guides, the special Nature’s Struggle exhibit, located at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, is sure to be a hit with adults and children alike.
Created to address the issues related to the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon, which has now been extinct for 100 years, all guests of the museum can experience the sights and sounds of each era from the three child protagonists; Claude, Floyd and Nadia.
Claude is our child guide from the 1800s and shares prairie life with us. His portion of the exhibit shares how the transformation of Illinois from a prairie state to a wetland begins. My children really enjoyed the aspect of knowing that animals trapped for their fur were prevalent in the state. We discussed why hunting those animals for their furs might result in not a lot of them being around. Let’s just say that my children’s imaginations surprised me. My eldest daughter stated that mom and dad animals were probably taken for their fur since they were always out working while their children were doing chores. I hear a tiny violin somewhere, but at least she got the gist of the fur trapping industry. There was also discussion among the three of them on the proper usage of fur and if the baby animals can recognize their parents without their hair. I have a very interesting conversation to have with the houseful of littles in a bit.
During this portion of the exhibit, the kids were able to rub the fur of several animals as well. They enjoyed that, and I’m not sure why they weren’t the least bit phased by the pelts either.
The next two guides were Floyd and Nadia who take us through the 1900s and present day Illinois. We see a push in the conservation movement and the creation of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County which also happens to be the largest forest preserve district in the United States.
The littles also had a great time in the story time area of the exhibit. The entire area is structured to look like a forest with a fire pit right in the middle. Made from felt and totally moveable, the entire area was completely kid friendly and a nice spot to sit and read a story to your little ones or the little ones of others.
I won’t spoil the entire exhibit for you (the photos above are from the very beginning of Nature’s Struggle. I wasn’t aware that passenger pigeons – the root of this exhibit – have been gone for 100 years. I also wasn’t aware that they were eradicated from this Earth in just 50 short years.
Nature’s Struggle does a very good job in having us look very closely at how we are the biggest enemy of the Earth, and how we can at least implement some things to help slow down the very harmful things we are doing each day.
While you are there, you should definitely take some time to explore the rest of the museum. We thoroughly enjoyed the butterfly haven, which the museum is known for, and even got to see some up close on the hand of one of the museum volunteers.
Sir Twizzler even got up close and personal with some of the butterflies on showcase outside of the haven
Nature’s Struggle opens on Saturday, March 22 and runs through October 19 at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum located in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago at 2430 N. Cannon Drive. Street parking is free after 9 am and there is paid parking in the lot right across the street from the museum. Adult admission is $9 and children’s admission is $6. Children under 3 are free. Thursdays are suggested donation days for residents of Illinois.
I’m currently thinking about a membership to the museum and we’ll definitely be visiting more often than I have been. The last time I was there was when the cellist was in fifth or sixth grade. Too long ago. Hopefully, we’ll be visiting much more often than every couple of years.
What’s your favorite museum in your city? Share the info in the comment section below!