Published: December 14, 2020

2020 Year in Review


In a challenging year, our scientific research, educational resources, and community outreach continued with your support.

A monarch butterfly sits on a coneflower in front of the Field Museum.

It’s hard to sum up 2020 in just a few words, as a year that’s brought suffering and struggle to so many. At the Field, we’re taking a moment to reflect on successes big and small, and to recognize the people who keep inspiring us: our incredible staff, many dedicated partners around the world, members and donors, museum visitors, and neighbors and community members here in Chicago. 

Though our building was closed to the public for several months, work continued behind the scenes and outside the museum. Our conservation lab used its 3D printers to make face shields for organizations in Chicago. Collections managers continued caring for almost 40 million items. Our frontline staff has gone above and beyond to make the museum a clean, safe place for research to continue and visitors to return. It takes so many people, talents, and backgrounds to make the Field what it is.

When the Field temporarily reopened in July, our dedicated Guest Relations team worked to make the museum a safe and welcoming place to visit. Left to right: Lucretia Brickhouse, Latrice Rogers, and Calvin Jenkins. 

Conservator JP Brown repurposed the Field's 3D printers to produce face shields, which the Keller Science Action Center team helped deliver to organizations and people in Chicago.

Always learning about our planet

Examining the oldest material on Earth. Studying bats to understand coronaviruses. Make a gift of any amount to support scientific discoveries like the ones we made in 2020.

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Welcoming President and CEO Julian Siggers 

In September, we were thrilled to welcome Julian Siggers, PhD, as the Field’s new President and CEO. Throughout his career, he has championed the importance of communicating science to the public in a way that’s engaging and accessible. Julian has led countless initiatives—exhibitions, publications, programming, and digital media—to transform museums into vibrant spaces for public education and discovery that belong to the whole community.

Julian Siggers, wearing a Field Museum vest, stands between two tall shelves that hold museum collections.

Kyle Flubacker, (c) Kyle Flubacker

Welcoming dinosaur curator Jingmai O’Connor

In October, a new Associate Curator of Fossil Reptiles joined us. Jingmai O’Connor, PhD, is a world expert on flying dinosaurs and the transition of dinosaurs into birds. Jingmai focuses on birds from the Mesozoic, the time when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. She’s eager to bring that expertise to our collection, particularly the 50-million-year-old bird fossils from Wyoming’s Green River Formation. We’re lucky to have the world’s largest collection of these perfectly preserved fossils—picture feathers!—that help continue to piece together the bird family tree. Hear Jingmai talk about her work on Meet a Museum Insider Online.

Jingmai O'Connor holding a slab with a small fossil.

Jochen Stierberger

Remembering Lynika Strozier 

We are deeply saddened by the loss of a beloved colleague. Lynika Strozier passed away on June 7, 2020, from COVID-19 complications. She first joined the Field as a summer intern in 2009 and continued to work in various roles at the museum, including as a researcher in our DNA Lab. In 2018, she completed two master’s degrees: an MEd in Science Education from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and an MS in Biology from Loyola University Chicago. Now, the Field Museum's Women's Board is raising funds for a named internship position in honor of Lynika's scientific contributions. She radiated a passion for science, research, teaching, and mentorship. We will miss her infectious smile, boundless energy, and incredible inspiration.

Lynika Strozier.

Kyle Flubacker

Four women dressed in Apsáalooke attire stand in front of the Field Museum.

From left to right: Phenocia Bauerle, Charmaine Hill, Nina Sanders, JoRee LaFrance.

© Adam Sings In The Timber

Apsáalooke Women and Warriors

Apsáalooke Women and Warriors opened this year, curated by Apsáalooke scholar Nina Sanders. She describes the significance of this exhibition: 

“I am honored to lead the curation of Apsáalooke Women and Warriors with the assistance of other Apsáalooke scholars and artists, as it is the first time the Field Museum has invited a Native American to curate a major exhibition. . . . My hope is that the public will connect with us deeply and endeavor to learn more about all Indigenous people.

All Apsáalooke people are artists; each person is born with or acquires gifts that make life beautiful and meaningful. From birth, Apsáalooke people are taught to care for all things by utilizing our gifts. Each artwork in Apsáalooke Women and Warriors embodies the deep respect each artist has for the dedication, time, and love that goes into a work of art. Each piece is a celebration of our culture.” 

Tori Lee stands in front of a wall of photos of Carl Cotton. Text on the wall above the photos reads, "Thousands of visitors see these displays every day. Meet the man who made them."

Carl Cotton's legacy

In January, we opened a small exhibition that’s especially close to the Field Museum, A Natural Talent: The Taxidermy of Carl Cotton. Starting in 1947, Cotton worked here for over two decades, creating realistic animal figures and exhibits. Unlike most taxidermists then—and now—Cotton was African American. In February, our museum-wide celebration of Black History Month honored Carl Cotton and his family and friends who helped tell his story. 

Exhibition developer Tori Lee says, “Thanks to a group of supportive people in and outside of the Museum, I’ve been able to sketch a portrait of a humble, talented man who was passionate about nature and the art of taxidermy. . . . As I kept digging, I found more and more of myself in Cotton’s story. Like me, he made exhibits on the fourth floor of the museum. Like me, he was a Black person working at an institution with a complicated racial history. When visitors see this exhibit, I hope they see themselves in Cotton’s passion and determination to follow his dreams.”

Read more about Carl Cotton

Bringing the Field to you

While the Field’s been closed to keep our staff and visitors safe, we know it’s especially important to keep sharing science and education. Through social media, online events, and free learning tools for school and home use, we’ve found other ways to continue sharing the latest science news—and some moments of joy, too. 

Browse activities for learning at home

On YouTube

  • A Conversation about Land Acknowledgments

    Hear from Native speakers and experts as they discuss the custom of land acknowledgments, their importance, and other actions you can take.

  • Discovery Adventures

    This free online series takes viewers on an interactive, educator-led adventure around the Field. Tune in live every Tuesday, or catch the recordings any time.

  • Night at the Museum

    In our first-ever virtual gala, follow scientists into the collections and hear from Field Museum staff and supporters.

Stay in the loop

Whether our building is open or closed, becoming a member means you’ll always have access to the Field through virtual collections tours, presentations from scientists, and more. 

Join Today

Understanding science and anthropology makes us better able to make good decisions for our planet, it makes us more welcoming to people who are different from us, and it’s just fun—no one should be left out from how amazing learning is.

Julian Siggers, Field Museum President and CEO
1000 3D-printed face shields delivered to 16 partners
1500 science packets delivered to Chicago schools
14000 interactions with online Learning Resources
73000 minutes watched of Meet a Scientist Online

Strength in community 

While we couldn’t welcome people to the museum for part of the year, staff across departments found ways to continue supporting the Field’s mission—a future rich in nature and culture—and strengthen partnerships across the city and around the world. 

Thanks for being a part of the Field Museum 

While we still face challenges ahead, we’re grateful for all that you helped the Field achieve in 2020. Whether you followed us on social media for the first time or continue to be a lifelong member, you’re part of a larger community that supports science, learning, and a brighter future for all. 

Your support matters now more than ever. A gift of any amount will keep the Field moving forward, together. 

Donate Now 

Two kids wearing dinosaur face masks.

Instagram user @stamatinav

We felt so safe on our first return visit. The Field is really doing great taking necessary steps to keep everyone healthy. As members, we look forward to visiting often.

Kelsey M., Facebook