Image Source | Eric Esma
Walking around Chicago, Illinois for the first time can be overwhelming. There’s the river walk, all that shopping, and of course, the deep-dish pizza you want to check out. However, with so much to do, it can be hard to narrow down what things you want to see and what things you want to skip, especially when your time is limited. If you plan on checking out a few museums while you’re in town, stick to seeing only the best of the best. Consider stopping by any of these quality art, history, and science museums.
1. Art Institute of Chicago
As one of the most well-known cultural buildings in the city, the Art Institute of Chicago is home to more than 300,000 pieces of art. The museum features everything from medieval armor to some of Monet’s greatest work. While it’s impossible to see all that the Art Institute of Chicago has to offer in a single day, planning ahead allows visitors to see some of the most infamous pieces of art created in history. Just a few important pieces kept in their permanent collection include American Gothic by Grant Wood, The Bedroom by Vincent Van Gogh, and The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso. Even if you don’t have time to walk around, the exterior is magnificent with grand stairs leading to the entrance flanked by two bronze lion statues. Just that is a memorable photo to have on its own.
111 South Michigan Avenue | Chicago, IL 60603 | 312-443-3600 | Website
2. The Field Museum
The Field Museum holds over 30 permanent biological and anthropological collections spanning an area of 300,000 square feet. If you enjoy looking at the fossils of dinosaurs and learning about ancient Egypt, then this natural history museum is certainly a must-see. With interactive exhibits that feature mummies, dinosaurs, and bugs, it’s the perfect place to spend the day with the kids. Take them to visit “Sue” the T-rex in the Evolving Planet exhibit or massive dino Máximo standing guard in the museum lobby.
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive | Chicago, IL 60605 | 312-922-9410 | Website
3. Adler Planetarium
At the Adler Planetarium, you’ll find numerous shows, exhibits, and events that both inform and amaze. A domed Sky Theater allows guests to experience the stars and planets like they never had before. The planetarium is staffed by some of the biggest researchers in the field, ensuring that every guest’s experience is both educational and entertaining. In addition to hosting events for children and teens, the Alder Planetarium hosts a number of After Dark Parties for adults as well.
1300 S. Lake Shore Drive | Chicago, IL 60605 | 312-922-7827 | Website
4. National Museum Of Mexican Art
Full of brightly colored murals and artwork, the National Museum Of Mexican Art is home to one of the largest Latino art collections in the United States. Its permanent collection consists of over 7,000 pieces including ancient Mesoamerican artifacts, photographs, textiles, sculptures, folk art, and contemporary works. The exhibit allows guests to immerse themselves in the Mexican culture and see how Latino art has evolved over the years. With programs and events for kids, teens, and adults, the National Museum of Mexican Art has something for everyone. Admission is free to the public every day so there’s no excuse not to stop by.
1852 W. 19th Street | Chicago, IL 60608 | 312-738-1503 | Website
5. DuSable Museum of African American History
Opened back in 1961, the DuSable Museum of African American History is one of the oldest African American focused museums in the country. The collection includes vibrant African American art that takes guests through specific moments in American history with displays focusing on the 2019 Chicago Race Riot, the Harold Washington story, and the 8th Infantry Illinois National Guard. Visitors will also get to see a Grammy on display for Chance the Rapper’s album “Coloring Book.”
740 East 56th Place | Chicago, Illinois 60637 | 773-947-0600 | Website
6. Chicago History Museum
What better time to learn about the history of a city than when visiting it for the first time? The Chicago History Museum offers a variety of permanent and temporary exhibits that offer insight into where the city got its start and how it evolved into what it is today. Displays are educational and allow visitors to get to know the city through works of their writers, hotdogs, and fashion. Photographs bring guests back in time to the period Chicago first got its start, through the Civil War, and lead right up to the present day. If you feel it’s far too beautiful outside to spend a day in a museum, the Chicago History Museum also offers history cruises. Not only will you get to see some truly amazing views of the Chicago skyline, but you’ll get to see how it has transformed over the years.
1601 N. Clark Street | Chicago, IL 60614 | 312-642-4600 | Website
7. The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is a must-see for any nature enthusiast with a variety of live animals native to the city as well as artwork inspired by nature. Displays show off the natural habitats of butterflies, beetles, spiders, bats, bees, frogs, turtles, and birds. Located alongside a lagoon, visitors can take advantage of the museum's nature trails, bird walks, 2,700 square-foot butterfly sanctuary and truly immerse themselves in everything nature in Chicago has to offer. With a variety of hands-on exhibits specifically designed for kids, they can experience nature in a whole new way. Different from simply looking around at a variety of displays, visitors can dig in and truly enjoy the learning experience.
2430 N. Cannon Drive | Chicago IL 60614 | 773-755-5100 | Website
8. Museum of Science and Industry
Located inside the building originally designed for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, the Museum of Science and Industry offers exhibits that appeal to human curiosities. Wander around a German submarine, descend a mine shaft, try to find your way out of a mirror maze, and bring your secrets into the Whisper Gallery. It’s the ultimate hands-on experience that covers everything from the weather and nature to the future in technology and genetics. The Museum of Science and Industry is full of activities that you won’t soon forget.
5700 S Lake Shore Drive | Chicago, IL 60637 | 773-684-1414 | Website