Five Reasons Why You NEED to Attend Burpee Museum’s PaleoFest 2015!

Josh Malone, long time PaleoFest alum and Burpee Museum volunteer, shares his thoughts on this year’s upcoming PaleoFest.

Many Strange Things


Anybody who knows me knows that I have a great love for the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford, IL. The small museum is a great place to learn about natural history as well as present day wildlife, and so much more. It has exhibits that display a wealth of information, and really relays it all to the public in a very down to earth and enjoyable way. They also have a great paleo program, and offer volunteer opportunities to their digs in both Montana and Utah over the summer. I’ve gone on several digs with the Burpee, and over the years have built a really strong relationship with the wonderful team at the museum.

But above all, the number one event that has allowed me to build such a strong and lasting relationship with not only this museum, but other paleontologists around the world, is PaleoFest. For the past seventeen years, the…

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And they’re off!

On Sunday May 18th, the Burpee Field Crew left Rockford, Illinois and headed for Hanksville, Utah to begin readying the Hanksville-Burpee Dinosaur Quarry for the 2014 field season.

Morrision FM

At the end of each field season most of the traces of an active dinosaur dig are taken down, cleaned up, and removed from the site. All that remains over the winter is an information sign and a log fence. The fossils are re-buried to protect them from the elements, as well as to deter fossil poachers. This means that at the beginning of each season, crews must un-bury the dig pits, reconstruct the shade tent, reset (and reorganize) the supply trailer as well as make sure that all the machinery is in working order. The Burpee Crew is making good headway on setting up the site for the 2014 season – the shade tent frame has been erected, the trailer is in position and organized. Next comes, un-burying the dig pits and checking machinery!

However its not all work and no play for the field crew –  on the way to Utah they stopped at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to check out their paleo hall and incredible dioramas in their biology halls. They also had the opportunity to observe a small herd of Big Horn Sheep as they passed through the Rocky Mountains that was grazing near the road.


One final note, Happy 215th Birthday to Mary Anning! Check out today’s Google Doodle!


Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived

MegLogo_CMYK_FNL copy

Megalodon sharks swam the oceans more than two million years ago and sported 276 teeth the size of a human hand at the business end of their 60 foot long bodies. Although they are now extinct, they are fearsome predators that have made their way into our myths, legends, and sci-fi stories.

Since February 1, 2014 Burpee Museum has been hosting Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived, a traveling exhibit from the Florida Museum of Natural History. Burpee staff and visitors have been loving every minute of it! Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived is an impressive traveling exhibit. It encompasses the awe inspiring magnitude of Megalodon sharks, their impressive fossil history as well as fascinating modern shark biodiversity and conservation.

Megalodon’s run at Burpee Museum ends next Tuesday. If you’re in the area, help Burpee Museum send Megalodon off in style and attend the Beach Bash on Sunday, April 27 from 12-5pm! The Beach Bash is included with paid admission to Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived on Sunday.

Stay tuned for updates about Burpee Museum’s next traveling exhibit here and on our Facebook page!


Silent Night, Leaky Pipe

Burpee Museum is closed for five holidays each year: New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Normally, these holidays pass quietly as people spend their holidays with family and friends and the museum reopens the next day with no problems. That was not the case for Burpee Museum employees returning to work after the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2013 holidays.

Staff found water covering the lobby and Mahlburg Auditorium floors. A water pipe had frozen and cracked because of the frigidly cold winter temperatures and caused a major flood in the museum. All told, over 700 gallons of water were pumped out of the Mahlburg Auditorium. But, the damage to the first floor carpet and walls paled in comparison to the damage done to specimens in collections storage below. Water rained from the ceiling in collections, damaging over 200 specimens from the Biology and Anthropology collections.

Flood damaged Peacock

Flood damaged Peacock

Staff and volunteers were called in to help clean up the mess. Burpee was fortunate to have the help of many volunteers during the flood clean up; without their help the work that needed to get done would have been a daunting task. Their first task was to relocate the Anthropology, Biology, and Botany collections from collections storage to the Riverview Room for assessment and basic inventory. The specimens remained stored in the Riverview Room for eight weeks while the collections storage room was dried out, repainted, and re-acclimated for specimens. Once removed from collections, the specimens were individually assessed and recommendations for their care and repair were made.

Burpee Museum's specimens in temporary storage in the Riverview Room.

Burpee Museum’s specimens in temporary storage in the Riverview Room.

Although the specimens are back in collections and the day to day operations are back to normal at Burpee Museum, the recovery continues. The museum’s insurance plans will (and have) covered the physical damage to the building, and will cover some repair to some of the damaged specimens. The museum has also created a Specimen Adoption Program to help cover some of the costs that the insurance will not cover. If you’re interested in learning more about the Specimen Adoption Program visit the Christmas Flood Page on the Burpee Museum website.

Field work and field trips and fossils … Oh my!

Springtime at Burpee Museum brings many welcome changes from the long, cold winter months. One of the most welcome changes happens when the field crew starts to gear up and get ready for the summer expeditions.


This summer Burpee Museum will send field crews to Hanksville, Utah to excavate in the Jurassic-aged Hanksville-Burpee Dinosaur Quarry  and to Ekalaka, Montana to search for more Late Cretaceous specimens, like Pearl, Homer, and Jane. Burpee field crews stay at each site for approximately one month. During the course of that month they must open each site, excavate, map, and remove fossils, and then winterize the sites.  Expeditions allow the museum to grow the collection and participate in research to help better understand dinosaurs, their contemporaries, and the world as it was during their time.

Expeditions also allow Burpee Museum to connect the general public with paleontology. People interested in experiencing what a dinosaur dig is like are encouraged to register for one (or more!) of Burpee’s Expeditions and try their hand at field work. Anyone interested in field work, or the expeditions is welcome to join us Saturday, April 12 from 1-3pm for an Expedition Orientation Session. No registration is required for the orientation sessions!

For those looking to stay closer to home, Burpee Museum also hosts Family Fossil Field Trips at local quarries. On these field trips participants can spend the afternoon hunting for local Ordovician fossils, such as crinoids, cephalopods, brachiopods, and trilobites, and they get to keep what they find!

For more information about either Expeditions or Family Fossil Field Trips, please visit Burpee Museum’s website.

A mythologically derived theropod rises from the ashes ….

Burpe LogoWe’ve had quite the lapse in posting, but not without good reason. In the past year Burpee Museum has undergone some monumental, and very beneficial, changes. We’ve spent time re-organizing and regaining our focus so that we can be at our best and serve our local and global communities to the fullest!

We have many new and exciting updates to share here – everything from new dinosaurs to new partnerships! We can’t wait to get everyone caught up on what we’ve been up to while the blog has been quiet. Look for our weekly posts on Wednesdays!

We’ve also updated our pages here, particularly the expeditions page. The expeditions page is now updated with all of our 2014 information, check it out!


30 Days to Homer

Today is May 29, 2013, in exactly one month the “Homer’s Odyssey: From the Badlands to Burpee” will premier as Burpee Museum’s newest permanent exhibit!

(C) Burpee Museum

Part of the new “Homer” exhibit. Can you tell what it is?              (c) Burpee Museum

This week the first stages of installation for the exhibit began in SupplyCore Hall of Paleontology, as seen in the picture above. Can you guess what this structure might be for?

We’ll keep you updated as more pieces of this incredible exhibit go up!