Chicago Museums: From the Sea to the Sky
Chicago is more than just another pretty city. There are more than 40 Chicago museums, and they are designed to educate visitors about everything from the arts to science and history. Many of the city's museums are among the best in the world, and they rank as some of the top attractions in Chicago.
The area on Lake Shore Drive known as Museum Campus is home to three of the city's most popular museums. The Field Museum of Natural History is one of the largest of its kind in the world, with more than 20 million specimens on display, as well as a variety of touring exhibits that rotate throughout the year. The John G. Shedd Aquarium gives a glimpse into life under the sea. The Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, the first planetarium built in the country, features the StarRider Theater, which gives visitors a virtual reality tour of the skies. Admission for all three museums is included in both the Go Chicago card and the Chicago City Pass.
Chicago goes out of its way to celebrate the arts, with exhibits frequently on display all over the city. The Museum of Contemporary Art is one of the city's most popular attractions, while the Art Institute of Chicago, with more than 300,000 works of art on display, is the second-largest art museum of its kind in the United States. The Loyola University Museum of Art, known as LUMA, features distinct European art, while the University of Chicago's Smart Museum of Art has more than 10,000 works of art, with some that are close to 5,000 years old.
The Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park features more than 800 exhibits, many of them hands-on or interactive, as well as an Omnimax movie dome. It is considered to be the largest science museum in the country. Located inside the Fermilab building, the Lederman Science Center is designed to educate children from kindergarten through 12th grade. While there, look for the herd of American bison that live on the Fermilab property.
The Chicago History Museum hosts the largest collection of historical artifacts in the city and is also Chicago's oldest cultural organization. Learn about everything from the Great Chicago Fire to how immigration trends shaped the city at this landmark. Smaller historical museums also dot the city, including the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace and Museum, and the Glessner House Museum.
Just for Kids
If you're traveling with kids, you'll have an incredible time at the Chicago Children's Museum. Located on Navy Pier, the museum encourages education through looking as well as touching. The Kohl Children's Museum has 16 permanent exhibits and many temporary displays that encourage children to play and explore.
Celebrate the many cultures that make up Chicago through international museums found throughout the city. In addition to the National Museum of Mexican Art, one of the city's top attractions, there is also the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture, the DuSable Museum of African-American History, the Swedish American Museum Center, and the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. Other cultures are represented at the Oriental Institute Museum, the Polish Museum of America, and the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.
If you're looking for Chicago museums that are a bit off the beaten path, you won't be disappointed. There's the Smith Museum of Stained Glass at the Navy Pier, the Pritzker Military Library, the Museum of Broadcast Communications, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, and the Museum of Surgical Science.
Booking your Chicago vacation
A National Historic Landmark with 32,000 animals rests on the shores of Lake Michigan. No, it's not Soldier Field, it's the world-famous Shedd Aquarium.
Pilot the U-505 German war submarine as you execute a crash drive and emergency surface, all while evading explosive depth charges, at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.
Looking to rent a time machine in the Chicago area? The Field museum invites you to explore some of Earth's greatest moments, from the Ice Age to the Aztec Empire.
Forget boring tours that only show you Chicago's respectable attractions. The pub history crawl coordinated by the Chicago History Museum will show you history's darker side of speakeasies and gangsters.
After visiting the Chicago Children’s Museum, kids will no longer define “museum” as “a boring place for adults.” Instead, it will mean “an unforgettable way for kids to have fun.”
Chicago isn't just known for its pizza. It's also known for its art. Check out the Art Institute of Chicago. It's been a local favorite since 1893.
Think you have what it takes to pilot and touch down a lunar landing vehicle? Find out first-hand at the Adler Planetarium.