Burpee Museum of Natural History

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Burpee Museum of Natural History
The Burpee Museum of Natural History is located along the Rock River in downtown Rockford, Illinois at 737 North Main Street.

Museum History
The Burpee Museum of Natural History was created as a Works Progress Administration project. The Museum was established in 1941 and opened on May 24, 1942. The current complex is made up of four buildings"the Manny Mansion, the Barnes Mansion, the Solem Wing, and the Water Lab. The Solem Wing is the public portion of Burpee Museum. Built in the winter of 1998, the Solem Wing houses the Museum's exhibits, meeting rooms, laboratories, gift shop, and the Mahlburg Auditorium. It is named after Robert H. Solem who was a major benefactor, patron, and friend of the Museum. The Manny Mansion was owned by John P. Manny and was built in 1852. Formerly the Burpee Art Museum, it is now attached to the south side of the Solem Wing and houses Museum classrooms and offices. Prior to the expansion, the Burpee Museum was housed entirely in the Barnes Mansion. Built in 1893, the mansion was owned by industrialist William Fletcher Barnes. Today, the Barnes Mansion houses meeting rooms and the administrative offices. The Water Lab (funded by Aqua Aerobic) is a modern lab facility along the Rock River in which students in grades 6 through high school collect water samples from the river and analyze them for various physical, chemical and biological parameters.

Exhibits

Jane-Diary of a Dinosaur
Jane is a renowned juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex or Nanotyrannus lancensis discovered in the Hell Creek Formation in southeastern Montana during the summer of 2001 by Carol Tuck and Bill Harrison, team members of an expedition led by Burpee Museum curator Michael Henderson. "She" is named after Burpee Museum benefactor Jane Solem. After four years of preparation, Jane is now on display as the centerpiece of a new exhibit at Burpee Museum, "Jane: Diary of a Dinosaur". Visitors are able to discover what happened during the 66 million years she lay buried, visit a re-creation of the expedition’s Montana base camp, and view her fully restored 21-foot skeleton. She was 11 years old at death, and is half as big as her adult counterpart " Sue," who is 43 feet long and resides at Chicago's Field Museum. Jane's weight was probably nearly 1,500 lbs. Her big feet and long powerful legs indicate she was built for speed and could possibly run as fast as 20-30 miles per hour, and her lower jaw has 17 finely curved, serrated, razor-sharp teeth designed to tear into flesh. Rockford's Jane exhibit also contains several scale casts of other dinosaurs, including a 40-foot Tyrannosaurus rex. To be joining Jane on exhibit is Homer, a subadult Triceratops fossil discovered in the Hell Creek Formation in southern Montana by Helmuth Redschlag in July 2005. In July 2006 The Science Channel aired The Mystery Dinosaur , a one-hour documentary on the discovery and continuing scientific argument over whether Jane is a juvenile T. rex or an adult Nanotyrannus lancensis. The Mystery Dinosaur aired on the Discovery Channel in the fall of 2006. In March 2007, Jane was nominated as one of Illinois' Seven Wonders.

The Carboniferous Coal Forest
State-of-the-art technology is combined to create a two-story tall prehistoric coal forest, which displays local landscape, insects and amphibians as they existed 300 million years ago

The Ordovician Sea
Fossils and displays relating to life in the midwest as it was found 455 million years ago.

Geoscience
Displays focus how our earth was formed and the forces still at work shaping our planet. Included are exhibits on economic, world and regional geology; a 10-foot glacier model; displays of unusual rocks, gems, and minerals; and information on plate tectonics, land formations, and others.

The First People
Displays and exhibits focused on the history of humankind in North America. The First People features a full-size wigwam and tipi, an American Bison, and a dugout canoe that you can climb into. Includes two video presentations focused on Native American lifestyles and archeology.

Windows to Wilderness-Exploring nature in the Rock River Valley
Focusing on the wildlife of the Rock River Valley, the Windows to Wilderness exhibit includes live and mounted wildlife; scale recreations of common landscapes and environments of the Rock River Valley. This exhibit also includes hands-on activities designed to entertain children.

The Dean Olson Specimen Viewing Lab
The Dean and Nancy Olson Specimen Viewing Lab is a window into how the Museum works. Located on the lower level, the viewing area's large glass windows reveal the biology and paleontology laboratories where specimens are prepared for the Museum's collections and exhibits. Visitors are able to view exhibits and collections pieces as they are prepared and researched before going on exhibit or into the permanent collection. The Burpee Museum of Natural History maintains more than 60 thousand items in its permanent collection.