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Founder's Week: Timeline Part III; 1958 - 2014

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Tags: timeline, Chicago Academy of Sciences, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, founder's week, Archives, collections

Created: 1/17/2014      Updated: 8/9/2016

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1958
Chicago native and ornithologist Dr. William Beecher becomes the Academy’s Director. He holds this position for 24 years.

Dr. William Beecher works on background for a diorama.
Dr. William Beecher works on background for a diorama. 
From the Chicago Academy of Sciences Archives, Photography Collection.

1960-1966
Junior Academy of Sciences formed for middle and high school children, to provide additional learning opportunities for young people in science studies and research.

1960s-1970s
Beecher implements redesign of exhibit spaces, including opening of the third floor of the Laflin building to the public.

1982
Paul G. Heltne, PhD, zoologist and primatologist, is appointed Director of the Academy.  He holds this position until 1999.

1983
An Education Department is formally established at the Academy, although education has been a primary focus of the institution since the 1910s.

1986
Museum sponsors “Understanding Chimpanzees Symposium,” welcoming primatologists from all over the world, including well-known Jane Goodall, and providing public attendance to portions of the symposium as well.

1988
For the first time since 1951, the endangered Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrines, successfully produces eggs that hatch on a ledge of a downtown Chicago office building. Mary Hennen, Collections Manager/Assistant with the Academy, worked on the Peregrine Falcon Monitoring Program while at the Academy and conducted research. She took this project with her, when she left the Academy to work at the Field Museum of Natural History.

Juvenile Peregrine falcon
Juvenile Peregrine falcon

1990
Fall - Pilot programs for Science on the Go! began. This program, still active today, provides training and resources for kindergarten through eighth grade educators in teaching science through more hands-on lessons and cooperative learning. 

1991
Jon D. Miller, Vice President of the Academy, establishes the Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy under the auspices of the Academy.

1994
The Academy initiated plans for an addition at the Laflin building to expand and modify it to provide more room for exhibition, collections storage, and office space. The Chicago Park District who owns the land on which the Laflin building rests, disallowed expansion, citing the need to limit construction in park areas to ensure the continuation of park lands for future generations as dictated by their original charter. At the same time, the Lincoln Park Zoo also began looking to expand their operations. The Chicago Park District offered the Academy the opportunity to build a new museum building on the site of the Park District’s North Shops Maintenance Facilities in exchange for transferring the Academy’s Laflin building to the Lincoln Park Zoo. Today the Laflin Building is used by the Lincoln Park Zoo as administration offices.

1995
June 4 - Academy closed to the public to begin move out of the Matthew Laflin Memorial Building at Armitage and Clark Street in Lincoln Park, where the institution had resided for 102 years. Staff offices, the museum collections, the archives, and the scientific library, were moved to another building on Clark Street owned at that time by the museum and to additional space on Ravenswood. The second facility is now the Ravenswood Collections Facility. To maintain a public face for the Academy during construction, the museum had a temporary facility on the third floor of North Pier on Illinois Street which was open to the public.

1997
The Chicago Academy of Sciences breaks ground for a new building in Lincoln Park. In recognition of the donation made to the Academy by Mr. and Mrs. Notebaert, the building was named the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network, a citizen science program dedicated to “collecting quantitative data on butterfly populations” moved under the auspices of the Academy through Doug Taron, Curator of Biology and Vice President of Conservation and Research.

1999
Summer – Museum begins partnership with El Valor, a multi-cultural and multi-purpose organization whose, “…mission is to support and challenge urban families to achieve excellence and participate fully in community life,” through a summer camp for children.  The partnership has expanded today to programs for adults with disabilities, conductive education, family field trips to the Museum, after school programs, and professional development for Head Start teachers including visits to their classrooms.

October - The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum building opens to the public. The Academy’s collections and Collections Department staff offices remain at the Ravenswood Collections Facility, where they are still housed today.

Education Department began onsite workshops.  To date this initiative has reached 20,000 students.

Students working with museum educators

2000
Joe Schactner appointed President and CEO of the Academy.

2001
Butterfly Restoration Program started with funding from the BP Leaders Award. The Swamp Metalmark, Calephelis muticum, and Silver-bordered Fritillary, Bolaria selene, were the first imperiled species added to the program.

Fall - Teacher Leadership Center opened at the Museum.

2005
Laureen Von Klan appointed President and CEO of the Academy.

2006
Education department revamps its Science Teaching Network (STN).  Started in the early 1990s the program provides training for teachers through an intensive summer institute that is followed by classroom support in the fall.  Since this year, 300 teachers have been through the program.

2007
Nature Museum Summer Camps began. 

2008
Summer – Museum opens its first self-curated exhibit, “Lawn Nation” since its move into the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Collections Department begins to inventory all of the natural history holdings within the Academy’s collection with grant support from the Institute for Museum and Library Sciences. The initiative took 5 years to complete and over 280,000 specimens and objects were verified.

Museum began participation in Blanding’s Turtle Recovery Program, a conservation effort spearheaded by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, to rear and release endangered Blanding’s Turtles, Emydoidea blandingii, into their natural environment. Sub-Adult Blanding’s Turtles put on display at the Museum. Celeste Troon, Director of Living Collections, heads the museum effort.

2009
Butterfly Conservation Lab opened at the Museum, a permanent research lab for the Butterfly Restoration Program.

An expanded version of Project Squirrel, a citizen-science program, moved under auspices of the Academy through Steve Sullivan, Senior Curator of Urban Ecology.  The program was created in 1997 by Joel Brown and Wendy Jackson both professors at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Collections Department begins two-year project to process about 250 linear feet of materials in their Manuscript Collection in the Archive with grant support from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation.

2009-2011
Participation in Blanding’s Turtle Recovery Program expands.  Museum helps head start hatchlings for two years, release two year old head starters with radio transmitters in the fall, track them in the spring to replace radio transmitters, track females to see if they are gravid, collect females when they are, release them after they have laid, and track the head starters again in late summer to put on their winter transmitters.

2010
July 1 - Deborah Lahey appointed President and CEO of the Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. She had previously served on the Board of Trustees and then as Chief Operations Officer (Dec 2009 to June 2010).

2011
February – First meeting of what would become Project Passenger Pigeon (P3) occurred at Museum. Initial participants included representatives from Smithsonian Institution, Cornell University, Michigan State University, the Indiana State Museum, Wesleyan University, University of Wisconsin, University of Louisiana, National Council for Science and the Environment, and the Illinois Natural History.  Project has expanded to include over 160 organizations from all over the United States and will culminate in various events throughout 2014.

April 11 – Self-curated exhibit “Nature’s Architects” opened.

Museum began head starting more Blanding’s Turtles.

Working with Chicago Film Archives, Collections Department began assessment and re-housing of their motion picture film collection, about 1370 individual reels, with grant support from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation.  Collection composed of original nature studies to some commercially produced reels. Project to be completed in early 2014.

Motion picture film canisters  Film still of chameleon

2012

Museum became the home for the Chicago Conservation Corps.

Butterfly Restoration Program released lab-reared Regal Fritillary, Speyeria idalia, butterflies into natural habitat.

Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network takes a national leadership role serving as a model for similar programs in states all over the United States. A collective database for information from networks all over the country is developed to provide easier access to information.

2013

February 10 – First Annual Chicago Volunteer Expo held at Museum. Over 60 local nonprofit institutions participated, providing information on volunteer opportunities in one convenient location.

March 23 – Self-curated exhibit “Food: The Nature of Eating” opened.

Butterfly Restoration Program released lab-reared Swamp Metalmark, Calephelis muticum, butterflies into natural habitat.

Project Squirrel released smartphone app.

Blanding’s Turtle Conservation Lab constructed to accommodate the 42 hatchlings entrusted to the Museum for head starting as part of the Blanding’s Turtle Recovery Program.

           

Aerial shot of Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum



Amber King
Assistant Collections Manager

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