As if you needed another reason to hit up The Morton Arboretum, now they have a new whimsical display of larger-than-life copper frog sculptures. Ribbit! The Exhibit features four- to seven-foot-tall frogs taking part in a variety of activities including playing instruments, catching butterflies and meditating on a lily pad. Read on to hear more about the sculptures and fun activities planned in conjunction with this temporary exhibit.

Morton Arboretum Ribbit 5

Creating the Frogs
Copper origami? Well, sort of. The sculptures in Ribbit! The Exhibit are hand drawn, cut from sheets of copper and hammered and folded into the desired shape, much like origami. Pieces are then assembled in such a way that ensures they can be enjoyed for generations to come. Lastly, they’re finished, either from a chemically-forced patina or a colorful pattern coaxed from metal using the heat.

Morton Arboretum Ribbit 6

The “Frog Man” Behind the Sculptures
Carrying the nickname “Frog Man”, Wilmington, NC-based sculptor J.A. Cobb’s unique copper art has attracted crowds at public gardens across the country. His name is synonymous with large-scale, fanciful frog sculptures completed with an uncommon level of skill and artistry, just like at The Arboretum, as well as birds, fishes and other animals. What started as a hobby now keeps Cobb creating year round. Perfect example to show the kids of someone doing what they love and a career growing from that passion.

Morton Arboretum Ribbit 2

Fun Facts to Share with the Littles

  • 500 pounds of sheet copper was used in the creation of the sculptures
  • It takes about 120 hours to create one piece. That’s about 2,760 total hours to complete the entire 23-piece collection, which is the equivalent of working 115 non-stop days. Wow!
  • Keep your eyes peeled for Diana the Huntress. With a bow and arrow in hand, she stands the tallest at 7 feet.
  • Sweet Sasha the Ballerina is the smallest frog, at just over 4 feet

Morton Arboretum Ribbit

Wait! There’s more! Check out the additional frog-inspired programming that’ll have you ditching your pad to return all summer long.

Frogtastic Play
Hop, croak and splash your way into imaginative play weekdays from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. while Ribbit the Exhibit! is on display. Families can explore different natural objects to learn about frogs and their habitat, as well as play games like the lillypad hop.

Hit the Road, Take a Hike!
Shhhhh, be super quiet, so you can listen for the sounds of western chorus frogs and spring peepers. Be on high alert for signs of nocturnal animals as you take a Spring Twilight Hike, April 22, April 27 or May 7 (7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.). The fee for this evening excursion is $8/member or $10/non-member.

Morton Arboretum Frog and Toad

Hooray for a Visit with Frog and Toad
Meet the classic Arnold Lobel storybook characters, Frog and Toad, May 7 and 8 (11 a.m.-4 p.m.). Your little tadpoles will have a hoppin’ good time with crafting and story times throughout the day in the Children’s Garden.

Morton Arboretum Deb the Frog Lady

Get Your Amphibian Fix at Creature Feature
With everything from tails to scales, your kids will dig coming face to scaly face with amphibian friends at Creature Feature, July 30 and 31 (11 a.m-4 p.m.). Deb the Frog Lady will showcase this incredible group of animals and the bravest visitors will even get to snuggle (or maybe just hold) a few of the creatures.

Hooray for Herpetology! (Three words you never thought you’d hear in the same sentence)
Lake View Nature Center will host an amphibian and reptile meet and greet August 14 (11 a.m.-4 p.m.), giving your inquisitive explorers an opportunity to learn more about these slimy, but fascinating, animals.

Toad-ally Tadpoles
Prince or frog — can you guess what Morton’s tadpoles turn into? Fingers crossed for Prince! Look at pictures, get fun facts and make a toad-ally cool tadpole to take home weekends in May (11 a.m.-4 p.m.).

Morton Arboretum Frog ID Workshop

A Chance for Adults to Geek Out 
Adults who have a special place in their hearts for amphibians can attend the Frog ID Workshop, May 5 (1 p.m.-3:30 p.m. or 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m.). Workshoppers will learn the names and ecology of the frogs that call in the spring. Time will be spent indoors learning how to identify these four legged friends by physical features, as well as their distinct vocalizations. Once you study up, you’ll head outside to listen and search for species that call call The Arboretum home sweet home.

Morton Arboretum Feasting Frogs

Feasting Frogs
What do frogs eat? How do they catch their food? Find out all the fascinating facts about how frogs fill their tummies with grub and make amphibian artwork to take home! This self-guided, hands-on discovery activity runs daily in June (11 a.m.-4 p.m.)

Froggy Food
Come hungry! Totally hard to believe, but what has 6 legs and tastes like a potato chip? An edible insect, of course! Challenge your tastebuds and taste food fit for frogs, June 11 and 12 (11 a.m.-4 p.m.).

Super Sweet Frog Pads
Not all frog friends call lily pads home. Explore different types of frog homes and even design your own to take home. This self-guided, hands-on discovery activity is happening daily in July (11 a.m.-4 p.m.).

Morton Arboretum Ribbit 4

Grab a cup of joe and hop on over to the exhibit. Don’t wait too long, the frogs split for other destinations September 25.

Morton Arboretum
4100 IL Rte 53

Do you have plans to pop in and say “Hi!” to the frogs at Morton? If you do, tell us about your experience in the Comments below!

— Maria Chambers