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Chicago's Oldest Museum On Display With Explorer Exhibit

By Mina Bloom | January 15, 2016 6:16am
 Employees with the Chicago Academy of Sciences developing a background for a diorama in 1920.
Employees with the Chicago Academy of Sciences developing a background for a diorama in 1920.
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Courtesy/Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

LINCOLN PARK — Learn about the early days of the city's oldest museum, the Chicago Academy of Sciences, at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, the academy's offspring.

Dubbed "Chicago's Explorers," the January pop-up exhibit at the nature museum, 2430 N. Cannon Drive, documents the origin of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, which was founded in 1857 and known as the "first museum of the west."

In addition to learning about its founders, folks will be able to view rarely seen specimens from the academy's historic museum collection and participate in activities like scavenger hunts.

By 1870, the academy had one of the most significant museum collections in the country, according to the nature museum's website. Think insects and other specimen in jars.

After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the academy was forced to rebuild. It moved to the Laflin Memorial Building in Lincoln Park, where it began incorporating dioramas with local plants into its collection.

In the years that followed, the academy started focusing on education, establishing the Junior Academy of Sciences for middle and high school students. And in 1983, the academy formally debuted an education department.

It wasn't until 1999 that the Peggy Notebaert Museum was built as an offshoot of the historic academy.  

The exhibit, which is free with nature museum admission, runs through Jan. 31.

Friday is the last day guests can participate in Founder's Week, another special exhibit celebrating the museum's 160-year-old history that allows visitors to view rare specimen like prairie chicken.

For more information, visit the museum's website.

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