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Picturing the Prairie at Chicago Botanic Garden

A field of tall grasses with a cloudy sky above

Photo credit: Chicago Botanic Garden

Picturing the Prairie: Paintings by Philip Juras, is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through September 12 at the Chicago Botanic Garden, in Glencoe. The exhibit of 15 large studio canvases and many smaller field paintings depicts rare, complex, diverse natural habitats that require conservation, restoration and stewardship work to protect the remaining prairies and restore others. Picturing the Prairie celebrates their vital role in our Midwestern heritage and takes visitors on a journey of prairie landscapes throughout the state of Illinois.

Events related to the exhibition include Prairie Walks from 9:30 to 11 a.m., August 28; After Hours Buzz from 6 to 8 p.m. July 8 and 22 and August 5 and 19. In this series, Garden conservation scientists illuminate the most fascinating prairie stories with interactive demonstrations, light hors d’oeuvres and drinks on the Visitor Center Deck (North). Picturing the Prairie partners include the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Field Museum, The Nature Conservancy and Openlands.

“At first, it looks like a big grassy area that’s got some flowering plants in it,” says Juras about the prairie. “But with a little bit closer observation, you really get to see a lot of nuance and complexity. When you see a place like that, you’re also getting a small picture of what the experience of Illinois used to be like.”

There once were 22 million acres of tallgrass prairie in Illinois; now, one hundredth of 1 percent of high-quality prairie remains in Illinois. The small prairie remnants that currently remain require conservation, restoration and stewardship to survive. Prairie plants have deep root systems that are adapted to hot summers and cold winters. Prairies evolved in the presence of fire, periodic drought and grazing.

Photo credit: Chicago Botanic Garden

Illinois is in the tallgrass region of prairies because we have enough rainfall to support tall grasses. Tallgrass prairies are places of high biodiversity that are rich in beauty and bright with more than 300 native plants such as purple coneflowers (Echinacea) as well as birds and pollinators such as monarch butterflies that depend on this habitat to survive. The tallgrass prairie landscape is filled with 10-foot-tall grasses and dozens of wildflowers throughout the growing season.

The Chicago Botanic Garden, one of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County, is a 385-acre, living plant museum featuring 27 distinct gardens and four natural areas. With events, programs and activities for all ages, the Garden is open every day of the year. Opened to the public in 1972, the Garden is managed by the Chicago Horticultural Society, accredited by the American Association of Museums and a member of the American Public Gardens Association (APGA).

The Chicago Botanic Garden offers classes for students from ages pre-K through adulthood through the Joseph Regenstein, Jr. School. The hands-on learning programs are for people of all ages, abilities, interests and backgrounds. Adult education classes include horticulture, garden design, nature studies and botanical arts for all levels of interest. Other programs bring the wonder of nature and plants to children, teens and teachers. The Garden’s community gardening programs provide access to fresh produce in Chicago’s food desert communities and training in sustainable urban agriculture for youth and adults.

The Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center provides laboratories and teaching facilities for more than 200 Ph.D. scientists, land managers, students and interns that conduct research critical to fulfilling the Garden’s efforts to save the planet by saving our plants. The Science Career Continuum serves minority students from Chicago Public Schools and throughout the region, mentoring them as they prepare for science studies in college and beyond. The Garden, offering a graduate program in plant biology and conservation with Northwestern University. The Garden is also host to Botanic Gardens Conservation International-U.S., and a member of the Center for Plant Conservation.


Admission fees apply for some events. Visitors must preregister at for timed entry. Location: 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe. For more information, call 847-835-5440 or visit