The Morton Arboretum has welcomed one million visitors in 2015.
December 21, 2015
The Morton Arboretum has welcomed one million visitors in a single year for the first time in its 93-year history. This tops the Arboretum’s previous yearly attendance record of 934,000, set in 2014. Membership has also grown significantly in 2015, to 42,890 member households. The Morton Arboretum is one of only six public gardens in the United States to reach these milestones.
Contributing to the increase in attendance and membership were two major seasonal exhibitions –summer’s Nature Connects®: Art with LEGO® bricks by Sean Kenney, and Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum in the wintertime – along with a robust roster of special events throughout the year including Fall Color Festival, new educational offerings, and the ever-popular Children’s Garden. This year, the Arboretum invited people across the Chicago area to connect with the 1,700-acre outdoor museum and its tree-focused mission with its new brand, “The Champion of Trees.”
“We are thrilled to welcome the one million visitors this year who came to the Arboretum to enjoy the outdoors, explore the plant collections, learn about nature and the environment, or take a deeper interest in science and conservation,” said Gerard T. Donnelly, PhD, President and CEO. “We appreciate every visitor and member, whose attendance helped support our work and build awareness about the importance of trees.”
The Arboretum surprised its one-millionth visitors on Monday, Dec. 21, with a special celebration hosted by Arboretum staff. They are the Donoghue family of Oak Park.
Since 2003, the Arboretum’s attendance has tripled, following a “Branching Out!” initiative designed to attract and serve a broader public audience. Expanded gardens, facilities, programming, and activities have engaged new audiences with the Arboretum and its focus on trees. Growth is anticipated to continue at the Arboretum, supported by the $63 million Growing Brilliantly fundraising campaign currently underway to enhance programs and facilities in the future.
The Arboretum is currently the 14th most-visited tourist destination in the Chicago area, and 8th in attendance among Chicago-area museums and zoos.
The Morton Arboretum was established in 1922 by Joy Morton, founder of the Morton Salt Company. The inspiration for the Arboretum had its origin in Mr. Morton’s own family tree. His father, J. Sterling Morton was Secretary of Agriculture to President Cleveland and the founder of Arbor Day. Over the decades, the Arboretum has continued to evolve, while staying true to the Morton family motto, “Plant Trees.”