Explore the Garden
A national center of excellence in gardening and environmental science education for students of every age.
Why Build a Learning Campus?
Many of our children have far less direct experience with the natural world than we did, and our parents before us. The consequences are significant and include health issues as well as a generation less informed about the critical importance of a healthy environment. The Garden views this problem as a challenge—and opportunity—to respond.
For nearly 40 years, the Chicago Botanic Garden has fought "nature deficit disorder" with creative and successful hands-on learning options for all; however, existing programs have outgrown the functional and physical capacity of the current Children's Education Center. By providing new classrooms, dramatically increasing both indoor and outdoor space dedicated to children's gardening, and offering a unique setting for exploring water habitats and ecology, the Learning Campus will enable the Garden to serve many more program participants year-round.
Science education has never been more important, and the Garden's Learning Campus will help develop the next generation of plant lovers and plant scientists. When completed, it will constitute the most comprehensive and sustainably designed environmental education campus of any public garden in the world.
Structure and Audience
Located on the Garden's north end, the three-acre Learning Campus, with an original conceptual plan, consists of the Grunsfeld Children's Growing Garden, the Kleinman Family Cove, and an Education Center. Each of these fulfills a specialized role complementary to the others. The Learning Campus also has an entry plaza and drive to accommodate the hundreds of school buses that bring students on school field trips, as well as vehicles bringing Camp CBG participants to and from camp each summer. Additionally, a nearly one-acre lawn and pollinator garden will become an important part of the Campus; once completed, the pollinator garden will help explain the critical role that pollinators play in sustaining life—in language comprehensible to children and their families.
As many as 200,000 people annually will be served by the Learning Campus, a hub of activity for school field trips, summer camps, Scout programs, teacher professional development, family programs, and other classes. Though children are the primary beneficiaries of the new Campus, adult learners and educators will also benefit from learning opportunities there. Visitors are welcome to stroll through the campus from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. from early June through Labor Day; hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. after that time.
Butterflies Alight on the Campus
From June 2 to September 3, 2012, Butterflies & Blooms, a butterfly exhibition, welcomed visitors on the lawn of the Learning Campus. This delightful exhibition of both tropical and native butterflies was a fun way for families to begin exploring the Learning Campus; there was a small entrance fee ($3 for children and $5 for adults) for Butterflies & Blooms. Sponsored by The Grainger Foundation. Butterflies & Blooms will be returning next summer.
The Learning Campus is part of the Garden's Ten-Year Strategic Plan. During the plan's first two years, significant parts of the campus have been completed; other components will be completed as fundraising goals are met. To date, the entry drive and parking lot, Grunsfeld Children's Growing Garden, and Kleinman Family Cove are complete.
Funding for the entry drive and plaza was provided by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, and Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
The Grunsfeld Children's Growing Garden is made possible through the generosity of Esther Grunsfeld Klatz and Ernest A. Grunsfeld III; the Robert R. McCormick Foundation; Woman's Board of the Chicago Horticultural Society, the Guild of the Chicago Botanic Garden; and the support of the Public Museum Capital Grants Program, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Illinois State Museum; Lorraine Ipsen-Stotler; Barbara and Richard Metzler; the Colonel Stanley R. McNeil Foundation; and Make It Better Magazine.
The Kleinman Family Cove was made possible by the generous support of the Kleinman Family.