A Treasure in the Stateline

We have a hidden treasure up here in the Stateline and it’s called Burpee Museum of Natural History. Housed in a late 19th Victorian Mansion along the Rock River, the Burpee Museum has been delighting visitors and contributing to the study of natural history for nearly 75 years. Burpee Museum sign

This past week I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in a ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour at Burpee. The backstage tour was an opportunity to gather some inspirational material; images, thoughts, history, stories, emotions, for a collaborative event, known as Word of Art 3D, planned for early 2017.

To tell you everything about the Burpee Museum would take a book, but here are some of the highlights from the special ‘collections’ tour.

  • The museum is home to a lot more than just bones
  • Many years ago an expansion of the museum was built around a huge ginkgo tree. Why? Because the ginkgo is one of the oldest types of trees on our planet, dubbed a “living fossil” by the Arbor Day Foundation.
  • Burpee is home to Jane the Dinosaur, the most complete adolescent T-rex ever found
  • Always wanted to go on a dig? Burpee offers it.
  • Homer, a teen-aged Triceratops calls Burpee home
  • They have fossils that are between 53.5 and 48.5 million years old
  • Their 2016 Paleofest featured 24 women paleontologists
  • They offer internships for college students interested in studying natural history

I could go on but I will spare you. It was a fascinating and eye-opening tour, one I won’t soon forget. For your viewing pleasure, here are a few photos I took from behind-the-scenes at Burpee Museum.


Davey the Crocodile


Garden on top of the entrance roof. Ducks nest there every year


Recreation of pre-historic 5 foot centipede


Jane the Dinosaur


Homer’s Family Tree – I can certainly see where the idea of dragons came from


Homer the Teen-aged Triceratops


Some of the collections



Plaster pods of fossils awaiting processing


Fossil of leaf that is between 53.5 and 48.5 million years old


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