Street Address
2430 N. Cannon Drive
Chicago, IL 60614
Mailing Address
2430 N. Cannon Drive
Chicago, IL 60614
phone: 773-755-5100
$7 adults, $5 seniors and students, $4 children ages 3-12. Special exhibitions may require additional fee.
Christine Brabender, Vice President, External Affairs
phone: 773-755-5140


The Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum inspire people to learn about and care for nature and the environment. The institution fosters environmental learning through the exhibits and education programs of the Museum and through the Academy's collections, research, symposia, publication's, events and other activities. We build understanding of global environmental issues by interpreting the effect those issues have on the Midwest.


As early as the 1850s, the Midwestern prairie had already begun disappearing beneath the farmer's plow. A young naturalist, Robert Kennicott, and a small group of amateur and professional scientists were concerned about the disappearance of native plants and animals. They began surveying and collecting to ensure that priceless information about native species was not lost. Kennicott and his colleagues founded a home for their collections and scientific papers, and created a place where city dwellers could reconnect with the wonder of the natural world.

Founded in 1857, the Academy of Sciences opened its doors to the public in 1865 as Chicago's first museum. Just six years later, The Great Chicago Fire destroyed the Academy and all of its holdings. In response to this tragedy, museums from all over the world sent specimens to the Academy. The Matthew Laflin building housed the collections and exhibits from 1893 to 1995. Today the Academy maintains a collection of about 250,000 specimens.

In the 1980s, the Academy began providing science education programs for Chicago Public School teachers and students. In October 1999, the Academy opened the Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park at the corner of Fullerton Parkway and Cannon Drive, as a venue for the public, especially urban dwellers, to find new ways to reconnect with the natural world.

Artifacts Collections

What has hundreds of thousands of legs, survives best in the dark, and can transport humans hundreds years in the past? Our incomparable collection of nearly 250,000 specimens, including plants, animals, fossils, and minerals. At a glance our collections include: 20,000 reptiles and amphibians; 50,000 insects; 60,000 shells; 30,000 fossils; 12,000 birds; 2,400 eggs and nests; 4,500 mammals; 20,000 rocks and minerals; 200 spiders; and thousands of photographs, papers, letters, and field notes. What this list doesn't reveal is that many of these specimens were collected more than 100 years ago, and some of the species (like the Passenger Pigeon and Ivory-billed Woodpecker) are now extinct. Items in our collections are incorporated into exhibits and educational programming. School groups, Museum members, volunteers, and others may occasionally join us on special collections tours. But, the primary purpose of these rare specimens is to aid scientists in their research.

For scientists studying our environment, the history of the Midwest, and changing ecosystems, discovering our collections is much like hitting all six winning lottery numbers. Our collections provide baseline data for studies of our environment, and they document how humans have changed ecosystems over time. The collections give us a window into the past, help us to understand better what we see today, and aid us in planning for the future.