For the second year in a row, The Morton Arboretum has welcomed more than one million visitors in a single year. Throughout its 94 years, the Arboretum has seen a steady climb in visitors as well as significant growth for memberships, which now number 44,074. The Morton Arboretum is one of only seven public gardens in the United States to reach these milestones.
This season’s Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum continues to have a tremendous impact on the 1,700-acre outdoor tree museum’s visitation as has a full slate of special events throughout the year, including the Fall Color Festival, classes and programs for all ages, and the four-acre Children’s Garden, which gives families and children the opportunity to explore trees and nature together in fun and interactive ways.
“The Morton Arboretum is a leader and a welcome destination for visitors, who join us to spend time among trees from more than 40 countries across the globe as well as learn about the natural world and the Arboretum’s critical tree-focused research and conservation efforts,” said Gerard T. Donnelly, PhD, President and CEO. “We are grateful for our visitors and members and their support of our mission to plant and protect trees.”
The Arboretum surprised its one-millionth visitor, Eldon Davis of Lombard, on December 19 with Arboretum gifts and lunch from the Arboretum.
Since 2003, the Arboretum’s attendance has climbed steadily, following a site redevelopment in 2004 designed to expand public outreach, and the 2005 opening of the Children’s Garden. A robust roster of educational programming, services, and activities has brought new audiences into the Arboretum and connected people to the importance of trees in our world. 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 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.”