Sanctuary: Flight of the Majestic Monarch opens at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

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Most Chicago families already know that the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is a wonderful resource. And you probably also know that the Butterfly Haven is one of the most serene, beautiful spots in the city. But I wanted to tell you about a new butterfly exhibit at the Nature Museum. Sanctuary: Flight of the Majectic Butterfly offers another opportunity for families to connect with nature -- this time, through art.

The exhibit centers around the 2,500-mile annual journey that the Monarch Butterfly makes from Canada through Chicago on their way to the butterfly sanctuaries in Michoacan, Mexico. Yes, you read that right. These delicate little creatures travel 2,500 hundred miles -- flying between 50 and 80 miles a day. Certain generations of Monarchs are born to make this trip to a place that they have never been before, guided by a solar compass.

The exhibit uses photography, original artwork, multimedia 3-D video,
and a "living mural" to draw attention to the fact that the Monarch is a natural connection between Chicago and Mexico.

If you don't take a moment to prepare your kids
for this art and culture-based exhibit and direct their attention to certain elements, I think
that they might not find it all that engaging. However,
there are many kid-friendly features of the exhibit worth checking
out -- you just need to take a minute to help your kiddos find them.

For example, a totem of butterflies hand-painted by
Mexican children is a beautiful, child-centric focal point in the exhibit space. Take a
minute to watch the video of the kids creating the piece. Kids will also
love to don 3-D glasses and watch as virtual butterflies fly around
them.

Museum Educator Amaris Alanis Ribiero offered some tips
for families planning to visit the exhibit. She stressed that this is
really an art exhibit. There are lots of opportunities for kids to think
about colors, patterns and symmetry. She suggested bringing in small
clip boards, paper and pencils so that kids could do some drawing if
they were inspired by the artwork that they saw.

Ribiero also noted that the
3-D butterfly experience is great for kids who might be apprehensive
about the real butterflies in the Haven -- they can get used to the
"virtual butterflies" first.

Visitors can also work with
Chicago-based artist Hector Duarte as he creates a "living mural" that
will continue to evolve until the exhibit moves on from the Museum on September 19, 2010.
Check the website for more information on times when kids can actually
participate in creating the mural.

Have a look at the photos in the gallery below to see get a better idea of what the exhibit has to offer.
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