Natural History Collections

Burpee Museum of Natural History maintains a diverse permanent collection comprised of over 100 thousand Paleontology, Geology, Biology and Anthropology specimens which are housed within the Robert Solem Wing of Burpee Museum along with our very own Herbarium. The collections focus on the natural history of the Rock River Valley region, but contain comparative material from all over North America and the world. Many specimens from Burpee Museum's permanent collections have been cited in scientific and popular literature. The collections are available for study to qualified researchers. Burpee Museum's Collections and Research staff are working to develop a world class collection to be used for education, exhibition and research.

Paleontology Collections

The Paleontology Collections are comprised of over 30,000 cataloged specimens or suites of specimens, collected from all over North America. They are an outstanding asset of the museum and include rare type and figured specimens. The paleontology collections are considered by many leading authorities to be scientific treasures of national and international significance. The paleontology collections are divided into plant, invertebrate and vertebrate specimens. Highlights include an extensive collection of Mazon Creek fossils (including fossil plants, invertebrates and vertebrates) of Pennsylvanian age (300 million years old) and a diverse collection of Ordovician (455 million years old) invertebrate fossils from Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. Burpee Museum also houses an extensive collection of fossil vertebrates from the late Cretaceous (65-67 million years ago) Hell Creek Formation of Southeastern Montana and Morrison Formation (late Jurassic in age) of Southeastern Utah. Burpee Museum also houses a collection of fossil vertebrates from the classic White River Badlands of South Dakota.

2013 Christmas Flood

Burpee Museum of Natural History is still dealing with the aftermath of the late December Christmas flood. Sometime between December 23 and December 26 Burpee Museum suffered a flood on its first floor which leaked into the lower level in the Museum's biology and paleontology collections.

As a result, a number of our collections were damaged, some very badly, and greatly affected by the water. Over 700 gallons of standing water was removed from the first floor and many more repairs are to follow. Over 200 irreplaceable specimens from the biology collections have been moved and are currently being stored in classrooms and meeting rooms while our collections space is repaired and cleaned.

We are currently in the process of getting quotes from contractors and have been in touch with conservators to assess and repair the damaged specimens.

If you would like to help we are accepting donations at the front desk and over the phone at (815) 965-3433.