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Rediscover Burpee:
Celebrating Natural History
Past, Present and Future

75th Anniversary
August 2016 – August 2017

Burpee Museum of Natural History is an unexpected delight and remains one of Illinois’ most fascinating cultural destinations. This fall marks the 75th Anniversary of Burpee Museum of Natural History. The Museum will officially begin its yearlong celebration on October 1, 2016 with the opening of the Native American, History of Burpee, and Wildlife Conservation displays.  Also opening this fall will be the new SPROUTs Learning Lab for children.

In cooperation with our regional business partners and public sponsors, Burpee Museum will develop interactive exhibits and display items from the museum’s past and present. This exhibition will be a departure from customary traveling exhibits. The Museum will pull out all of the stops to excite, engage, and inform through the interpretation of a unique collection of artifacts representing natural history. Visitors to the Museum will learn the history of Burpee Museum and enjoy an impressive range of seldom-seen artifacts from the permanent collection.

As you can see, we have wonderful plans for our museum. Our board of trustees is committed to reaching as many of these goals as possible in the next 12 months. We can do much of the planning for reaching our goals; however, your donations and sponsorships are needed to make the Burpee a top tier museum.

Dennis Harezlak, Executive Director

Burpee Museum - 1940
Burpee Museum 2015
Old Burpee Museum sign
Burpee Museum 2016

75 Years of Burpee

Established in 1941, Burpee Museum of Natural History opened as the Harry and Della Burpee Art Association. The Museum opened to the public on May 24, 1942. Under the guidance of Milton Mahlburg, Burpee Museum’s first executive director and local natural history expert, the collections grew to include many native and exotic specimens. Burpee Museum has continued to grow and evolve through the years. In 1986, Burpee expanded into the building known as the Manny Mansion when the Rockford Art Museum relocated to the Riverfront Museum Park. The mansion originally was used to house the Native American exhibit, an education center and offices. In 1997, the old auditorium was torn down to make room for the 40,000 square foot museum called the Robert Solem Wing.  In 2009, Burpee Museum and the Discovery Center joined forces to build the 5,000 square foot Woodward Exhibition Hall. Burpee Museum of Natural History currently houses anthropology, botany, geology, paleontology and zoology collections. These collections are used to educate the public about the natural history of the Rockford area, as well as points across the globe. Researchers visit to work with the Museum’s collections. Burpee Museum is a leader in Jurassic and Late Cretaceous paleontological research and fieldwork. Its expertise in these fields brings researchers from around the world to Rockford for events like PaleoFest.

Since its founding 75 years ago, Burpee Museum of Natural History has continued to be at the forefront in natural science with an emphasis on education, discovery and paleontology. The Museum continues to welcome visitors from all parts of Illinois, neighboring states, and around the globe. Every year thousands of schoolchildren experience their first introduction to natural history while touring Burpee Museum. The Burpee Museum began as a diamond in the rough and has become one of the preeminent mid-sized natural history museums in the nation.

75th Anniversary Sponsors

Cherry Valley Sign Company

Upcoming Events

August 27 – The Local (fundraising event)

Summer 2016 – Opening of the new dock (Date TBD)

October 1 – Opening of 75th Exposition in Woodward Hall History of Burpee exhibit; Native American exhibit; mammals, aviary and aquatic life from the Burpee collection; and Nature’s Canvas

October 1 – Opening of SPROUTs Learning Lab for children ages 18 months – 8 years

November 2016 through June 2017 – Monthly interactive weekend events in a variety of science related topics. Special weekend events will include fossil day, storytelling, live reptiles, critter feeding, birds of prey, ornithology, painting and drawing evenings, back room lab tours, gem and minerals displays, collector days, area quarry digs, etc.

Contact Us

Burpee Museum of Natural History

737 North Main Street, Rockford, IL 61103
Phone: 815-965-3433

For tickets visit burpee.org