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.”

The Mission of The Morton Arboretum
The mission of The Morton Arboretum is to collect and study trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world, to display them across naturally beautiful landscapes for people to study and enjoy, and to learn how to grow them in ways that enhance our environment.  Our goal is to encourage the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world.

About The Morton Arboretum
Established in 1922, The Morton Arboretum is an internationally recognized outdoor tree museum and tree research center located on 1,700 acres in the Chicago suburb of Lisle, Illinois. As the champion of trees, the Arboretum is committed to scientifically-informed action, both locally and globally, and encouraging the planting and conservation of trees for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. The Arboretum has 222,000 plant specimens representing 4,100 different kinds of plants in its collections, along with specialty gardens including the award-winning Children’s Garden, 16 miles of hiking trails, and nine miles of roads. Educational programs and services are offered, in addition to special events. The Visitor Center features The Arboretum Store and the Ginkgo Restaurant and Café; corporate meeting and banquet space is also available. A not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the Arboretum is open 365 days a year, welcoming more than one million visitors and serving 42,890 member households annually. Learn more at

Admission Rate
From Dec. 1, 2015 through March 31, 2016, nonmember admission rates to The Morton Arboretum are $9 for adults ages 18-64, $8 for seniors ages 65 and over, $6 for children ages 2-17 and free for children under age 2. Parking is free with admission. Members receive free general admission all year long.

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