The Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford is expected to reopen Saturday morning after a devastating water pipe break. There was a water line break in the Mahlburg Auditorium. It flooded the auditorium and the Ordovician Sea exhibit area, then "rained down through the floor" onto the collections in the basement, according to executive director Maureen Mall.
Most of the collections material has been moved from the affected areas by staff and volunteers, and is being dried out slowly to try to preserve the artifacts. Mall says the collections included animal specimens and Native American artifacts that were kept in a humidity-controlled area. The one that concerned her the most is a buffalo hide that was intricately painted by a Native American. She says it has "dried out nicely," but some of the paint may have faded. Mall says most of the artifacts, including taxidermy animals, will be okay, but a few are questionable. That's why she has reached out to experts from Chicago's Field Museum and curators from other museums to stand by in case special help is needed.
Mall says there's a lot of work ahead: water is still seeping from pipes and other fixtures. The cleanup will need to be extensive to prevent mold growth.
You can call the front desk at 816-965-3433 for status updates, check the website at www.burpee.org, or visit the museum's Facebook Page.