Project Spotlight: Discovering the Wonders of the Jarrett Prairie Museum

The newly renovated Jarrett Prairie Center Museum at the Byron Forest Preserve opened to the public on October 20, 2016. Created to sit alongside the amazing views of the Jarrett Prairie Nature Preserve, Split Rock Studios designed, built and installed more than 4,000 square feet of new exhibits and hands-on learning opportunities for visitors of all ages.

The new exhibits include an immersive theater that tells visitors about local prairie ecology, several large natural history and historical dioramas, fossil displays, prairie restoration information and an AV interactive that lets visitors decide how to run a farm to support conservation.

The design for the museum is inspired by the low horizons of the landscape, and intermittent “pop ups” of trees and agricultural silos. Signature exhibit elements are elevated in the space to seize the dramatic potential of the lofty space. Fixtures and graphics are inspired by the Prairie School aesthetic to include such things as limestone bases, wood construction, and arts-and-craft details.

The museum illuminates the complexity of the relationships between prairies and people. As visitors discover prairie origins and ecology they begin to learn how to “de-code” the landscape.

The multi-faceted exhibits allow visitors to gather around, and a multi-user approach allows for several set of hands to engage with the same component. This creates observation and interaction and fosters group discussion