Rockford attractions making news in Chicago

A work by Elyse Martin, part of the Rockford Midwestern exhibition at Rockford Art Museum.

Staff Report

Two local attractions — Rockford Art Museum (RAM) and Burpee Museum of Natural History — have made headlines in Chicago recently.

A six-minute clip about RAM’s 72nd Rockford Midwestern juried exhibition aired on WTTW Chicago’s public television program Chicago Tonight June 25 as the feature of its “Arts Across Illinois” segment.

The segment, which can be viewed at, features the museum’s “unique black walls” and shows clips of various works of art featured in the exhibition.

RAM Curator Jessica Caddell, RAM Community Relations Director Sarah Bursley McNamara and Rockford artist Katherine Webb are all interviewed during the segment.

There’s definitely a big arts community here,” McNamara said on the program. “A lot of the artists support each other and compete with each other. It’s like in tennis, that’s how you make each other better.”

The segment featured work by Rockford artists Webb, Drew Helge, Bradley Nordlof, Katie Bell and Javier Jimenez, among others from the exhibition.

I have lived in Rockford since 1985,” Webb said during her interview on the program. “I think that Rockford has an up-and-coming, growing art scene. To have the Midwestern here is just to me what Rockford is continuing to strive for — to be an arts center to bring more recognition to the artist.”

The Rockford Midwestern opened May 19 and remains on exhibit at RAM through Sept. 23. RAM is inside Riverfront Museum Park, 711 N. Main St., Rockford. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Saturday, and noon-5 p.m., Sunday. Admission is $7 adults, $3 seniors and students, and free for members and children younger than 12. Groups of 10 or more are $2 per person. Tuesdays are free to the public, although the group rate still applies. Call (815) 968-2787 or visit for more details.

A little less than two months after RAM was featured on WTTW, Rockford’s Burpee Museum of Natural History, also part of Riverfront Museum Park, was featured on the top of the front page of the Aug. 16 Chicago Tribune.

A picture of Rockford’s own Rick Nielsen appeared at the top of the front page of the Tribune with the headline “Rockford’s Guitar Hero: Cheap Trick rocker Rick Nielsen puts music history on display in new exhibit.”

The headline referred readers to an article on the cover of the Tribune’s Arts & Entertainment section about Nielsen’s exhibit, “Rick’s Picks: A Lifelong Affair with Guitars & Music,” which opened at Burpee Aug. 11 and remains on display through April.

The article, titled “The Ax Collector,” by Tribune reporter Christopher Borrelli, was accompanied by a large photo of one of Nielsen’s checkerboard guitars that, along with the headline, took up the entire top half of the front page of the A & E section.

The article then continued to the middle of the section and featured seven more large pictures of Nielsen and the exhibit, and also included a map of Rockford’s location in relation to Chicago and Burpee’s location within Rockford.

The article explained, “The show includes 78 guitars, 78 posters, 165 guitar picks, 40 gold records, 16 sweaters, two concert lighting rigs, 500 random pieces of memorabilia, Nielsen’s driver’s licenses, his 1955 Thunderbird and his John Deere combination lawn mower and snow plow (custom painted with Cheap Trick’s signature checkerboard colors).”

The article and photos can be viewed at

Burpee Museum of Natural History — also home to Jane the dinosaur — is at 737 N. Main St., Rockford, and can be reached at (815) 965-3433. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., daily. General admission is $10 adults, $9 for children 4-12, and free for children younger than 4 and museum members. Admission to “Rick’s Picks” (includes general admission) is $15 for Rockford residents, $18 for non-residents and $3 for members. Visit for more details.

From the Aug. 22-28, 2012, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!