Guide

Chicago Museums: World-Class and Off-the-Beaten-Path

by Fernanda DeSouza

posted on October 27, 2017

Photo Courtesy: Field Museum

Chicago is a town known for its architecture, its dive bars, its delicious food at both the highest and lowest end, and of course, for its museums.

From some of the best scientific institutions in the world (seriously, check out The Field Museum's YouTube channel) to art exhibitions that celebrate artists and craftsmen of all kinds (The Art Institute has a pretty amazing set of tiny dioramas), it might take a lifetime to see all the amazing things presented in Chicago's museums. But nobody, not even the most voracious learner, has that kind of time, so check out our guide below to decide which ones to visit.

The Adler Planetarium

The Adler is your ticket to the cosmos, where state-of-the-art theaters whisk you away to the far riches of our galaxy and beyond. Channel your inner Carl Sagan and learn about the origins of the universe inside the oldest planetarium in existence.

Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio

He may have lived in this house for a short time, but Frank Lloyd Wright's first home tells a story all its own. While the style is primarily Shaker, there are lots of little touches that speak to Wright's burgeoning genius. Sign up for a tour.

National Museum of Mexican Art

Devoid of frills, the NMMA's charm lies in its highly approachable concept: a free museum in the heart of a working-class neighborhood, Pilsen. Dive into hundreds of art pieces and rediscover Mexican, Latino and Chicano culture with fresh eyes.

DuSable Museum of African American History

DuSable has dedicated over 50 years to the study and conservation of African American history, culture and art. Explore documents, artifacts and art that define black culture while taking in this charming former stable situated in Hyde Park.

Art Institute of Chicago

One of the greatest art museums in the United States, The Art Institute of Chicago has a vast collection of 300,000 separate artworks from around the world including iconic pieces like American Gothic and Edward Hopper's Nighthawks.

Chicago Children's Museum

Go on a dinosaur dig, build skyscrapers, board a schooner, hide in a treehouse or tinker with tools—Chicago's Children Museum is a of place a wonder. Bring your curious toddlers for a fun-packed day inside this sprawling campus located at Navy Pier.

Design Museum of Chicago

Thanks to a Kickstarter movement, ChiDM graduated from pop-up museum to a permanent design-hub in the city's Loop district. Explore hundreds of dynamic and revolutionary designs from around the world inside this airy and easy-to navigate space.

The International Museum of Surgical Science

Not for the weak hearted, this offbeat museum is the only in the world offering visitors a full history of medical surgery. Exhibits housed in this Versailles replica range from sculptures made of bones to surgical tools used in Roman times.

The Museum of Science and Industry

At Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, you can do everything from seeing baby chicks hatch right in front of you to exploring a WWII U-boat submarine or even playing in a nature-inspired mirror maze. The possibilities are endless.

Museum of Contemporary Art

One of the world's largest contemporary art venues, MCA showcases big names and up-and-coming stars of the contemporary art scene inside a vast & brightly lit space. Don't forget to pose on the iconic, picture-perfect staircase before leaving.

Museum of Broadcast Communications

Calling all media buffs! Satisfy your fix at this hidden gem showcasing thousands of artifacts and documents of TV and radio content. Get behind the scenes, test your TV knowledge or snag a picture in front of an I Love Lucy dress replica.

The Field Museum of Natural History

The Field Museum is one of the world's largest natural history museums. Famously featuring Sue the T-Rex, it has twenty-four million other artifacts and engaging interactive exhibitions. Come for the dinosaurs, stay to indulge your curiosity.

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