Museums
in Chicago, IL

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Did you know that there are approximately 850 million visits to museums every year in America? They contribute $50 billion to the U.S. economy each year. If you think about how marvelous museums are, these numbers make sense. Museums can transport you to old worlds, future worlds, worlds you never thought you could be a part of.

If you’re looking to add some of those unknown worlds to your day, check out our list of museums in the area. They are all within driving distance and offer a variety of topics that will enchant every member of the family.
Art Institute Chicago
Art Institute Chicago

(312) 443-3600

Website
Michigan Ave Entrance 111 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60603   Directions
Modern Wing Entrance 159 E Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60603   Directions

If you plan a trip to Chicago, visiting The Art Institute of Chicago should be at the top of your to-do list. Established in 1879, it boasts an extensive collection of African sculptures, medieval and Renaissance armor, and an array of Aztec, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine artworks. The museum is home to some of the world's most famous and recognizable pieces of art, such as "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte," "American Gothic," Vincent van Gogh's "Self-Portrait," and original Monets. You will be captivated by these works of art's sheer beauty and grandeur.

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the world's oldest and largest art museums, founded in 1879. It is in the Art Institute of Chicago Building in Grant Park, Chicago. According to Wikipedia, the museum collects, preserves, and interprets works of art of the highest quality, representing the world's diverse artistic traditions for the inspiration and education of the public and by the profession's highest ethical standards and practices.

Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design
Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design

(815) 777-4444

601 S Prospect St
Galena, IL 61036   Directions Website

The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design is an international museum in Chicago known for its 20th-century architecture. The Museum is dedicated to showcasing the key features and history of the city's architecture, as well as the early examples of modern technological inventions such as the telephone, television, toaster, and other appliances.

Its mission is to educate the public about the value of good design in all areas of the discipline, including architecture, industrial and product design, graphics, landscape architecture, and urban planning. The Museum emphasizes how design can positively impact the human environment, from the "spoon to the city."

Chicago Children's Museum
Chicago Children's Museum

(312) 527-1000

700 E Grand Ave Ste 127
Chicago, IL 60611   Directions Website

The Chicago Children's Museum offers endless opportunities for children to engage in play. They can explore a schooner, hide in a treehouse, construct a towering skyscraper, experiment with essential tools, fish in a river, create art to take home, and much more. Play is a powerful tool that promotes learning, creativity, and development. The museum is dedicated to creating a community where play and learning intersect and enhancing children's lives through these experiences.

The Chicago Children's Museum has grown significantly over the last thirty years. Once located in just a few hallways of the Chicago Cultural Center, it now provides arts programs, STEM experiments, imaginative play, and other activities to more than 11 million children, parents, and caregivers.

Chicago History Museum
Chicago History Museum

(312) 642-4600

1601 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614   Directions Website

The Chicago History Museum was founded in 1856, but unfortunately, most of its initial collection was destroyed during the Great Chicago Fire. The destructive fire resulted in the loss of some of the museum's original artifacts, including the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln.

Since its reconstruction, the Chicago History Museum has amassed an impressive collection of historical artifacts relevant to Chicago and the nation. The collection comprises furniture used by Abraham Lincoln, the clothing he and his wife wore on the night of his assassination, and the first passenger car used in the Chicago 'L' system. Additionally, the museum has other materials, such as manuscripts, paintings, sculptures, and photographs that relate to the local history of Chicago. The Chicago History Museum also boasts an extensive collection of over 50,000 costumes and textiles from the late 19th Century to the present day.

DuSable Museum of African American Art
DuSable Museum of African American Art

(773) 947-0600

740 E 56th Pl
Chicago, IL 60637   Directions Website

Visiting the DuSable Museum of African-American Art is necessary to explore African-Americans' vibrant history and rich culture. As the first museum in the United States, the DuSable Museum provides a unique and in-depth perspective on African-American history and heritage. Situated in the Washington Park neighborhood of Chicago, the museum offers various exhibits covering various topics, including the contributions of African Americans in the military, the life and career of Chicago's first African-American Mayor, and the Civil Rights Movement.

The DuSable Museum, founded in 1961, has a collection of more than 15,000 objects, which includes paintings, sculptures, print works, and historical memorabilia. Visitors can explore 19th and 20th-century artifacts from the slavery era in the United States, as well as archival material, including the diaries of Captain Harry Dean, a sea explorer. The museum also features works from figures such as poet Langston Hughes, sociologist St. Clair Drake, and W.E.B Du Bois. If you want to learn more about African-American history and culture, visiting the DuSable Museum is an excellent way to gain insight.

Field Museum
Field Museum

(312) 922-9410

1400 S Lake Shore Dr
Chicago, IL 60605   Directions Website

History and nature enthusiasts must visit the Field Museum in Chicago. The museum boasts an impressive collection of over 21 million specimens that showcase the history of human and animal life in different regions. One of the museum's key attractions is Sue, the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton worldwide.

The Field Museum offers permanent and rotating exhibits that provide an insight into the world's natural history. The museum features a wide range of exhibits, including Mammals of Asia, Mammals of Africa, the Grainger Hall of Gems, Underground Adventure, Inside Ancient Egypt, Evolving Planet, The Ancient Americas, DNA Discovery Center, McDonald's Fossil Prep Lab, and the Regenstein Laboratory. The Field Museum Library is home to over 275,000 volumes of research collections, which are fundamental for the museum's scientific staff. The Library provides information on biology, anthropology, botany, geology, archaeology, museology, and other fields of study.

Glessner House Museum
Glessner House Museum

(312) 326-1480

1800 S Prairie Ave
Chicago, IL 60616   Directions Website

Experience the rich history, art, and architecture of Glessner House by taking a journey back in time. The cultural center and museum are renowned for their innovative design and offer a unique collection of cultural arts from the late 1800s to the present. It is home to original artifacts and is steeped in family history, making it a one-of-a-kind experience.

Engage in immersive tours, educational programs, and engaging events that take you through the past, connecting you to the power of design and cultural arts. Explore one of the most innovative residences built in the 19th Century. Discover the restored rooms and their original furnishings. Additionally, Glessner House offers rental opportunities, making it an ideal venue for corporate events and memorable gatherings.

Illinois Railway Museum
Illinois Railway Museum

(815) 923-4391

7000 Olson Rd
Union, IL 60180   Directions Website

The Illinois Railway Museum is where you can learn about the history of railway transportation and its impact on the country. The Museum houses over 400 pieces of original equipment from when railroad transportation was essential for industrial purposes and everyday life in America. These pieces of equipment include horsecars, steam locomotives, and passenger cars.

The Museum also exhibits and operates restored rolling stock and equipment on a demonstration rail line. Moreover, it collects, preserves, and maintains a reference library of publications, technical information, and other materials related to railroads, railways, and transportation for research and other purposes.

Kohl Children's Museum
Kohl Children's Museum

(847) 832-6600

2100 Patriot Blvd
Glenview, IL 60026   Directions Website

The Kohl Children's Museum is a fantastic place for children to have fun and explore. Geared towards kids aged eight and below, it offers various activities such as science, art, math, technology, teamwork, and outdoor games. The Kohlights holiday event is now an indoor/outdoor experience, where you can enjoy Twinkle Train rides, meet and greet with Anna & Elsa, and stroll through the interactive lights of Habitat Park. Additionally, you can explore all the indoor museum exhibits.

The Kohl Children's Museum of Greater Chicago boasts 17 interactive and hands-on exhibits, all carefully designed to align with the Illinois State Learning Standards and stimulate young children's love for learning. The Museum attracts an average of 300,000 visitors annually, and it has around 6,000 member families who enjoy the purpose-built facility, the interactive exhibits, and the easily accessible location.

Museum of Contemporary Art
Museum of Contemporary Art

(312) 280-2660

220 E Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611   Directions Website

If you are a lover of art, then you must visit the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The museum has a vast collection of contemporary art by famous artists like Jasper Johns, Chuck Close, Francis Bacon, and Andy Warhol. What makes this museum a must-visit is its commitment to showcasing new and experimental work in all forms of media. Additionally, the museum has ambitious learning programs that are worth exploring.

The museum showcases present-day artists' work and ideas. Additionally, it strives to conserve contemporary art for future generations. In 1974, the museum expanded its mission to include the procurement and preservation of modern artwork, and its collection has since grown to feature over 2,000 works. With a focus on community engagement, the MCA aims to foster dialogue, learning, and growth opportunities for current and future art enthusiasts.

Museum of Contemporary Photography
Museum of Contemporary Photography

(312) 663-5554

600 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605   Directions Website

If you're interested in print photography's art, beauty, and cultural importance, the Museum of Contemporary Photography is a must-visit destination. It is the only photography museum in the Midwest, and it boasts a collection of over 7,000 pieces from renowned photographers such as Ansel Adams, Harry Callahan, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Irving Penn, and Julia Margaret Cameron.

Founded in 1984 by Columbia College Chicago, the museum's collection showcases American photography from the 20th century and beyond. The collection features prints in various formats, including gelatin-silver prints, color work, digital pieces, photograms, and other processes.

Museum of Science and Industry
Museum of Science and Industry

(773) 684-1414

5700 S Lake Shore Dr
Chicago, IL 60637   Directions Website

The Museum of Science and Industry is a fascinating place to visit if you want to learn more about the Earth, the human body, technology, and science. With over 2,000 exhibits spread across 75 halls that cover about 14 acres, the museum opened in 1933 and is now the biggest science museum in the Western Hemisphere. In 2009, the museum had a record attendance of over 1.6 million guests, making it the third-largest cultural attraction in Chicago.

The museum has a range of permanent exhibits, including a working coal mine, a 3,500-square-foot model railroad, a German Submarine captured in World War II, and a NASA spacecraft used for the Apollo 8 mission in 1968. Additionally, visitors can experience flight simulators, military crafts, an assembly line replica, a 40-foot water vapor tornado, a 13-foot interactive heart, and much more.

National Museum of Mexican Art
National Museum of Mexican Art

(312) 738-1503

1852 W 19th St
Chicago, IL 60608   Directions Website

If you're a Latino art and culture fan, the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago's Harrison Park is a must-visit attraction. The museum boasts an impressive collection of artworks from various fields, including Ephemera, textiles, folk art, prints and drawings, photography, and sculptures. The National Museum of Mexican Art is home to a remarkable collection of art and artifacts that showcase Mexico's rich history and cultural heritage. The permanent exhibit takes visitors through the five stages of Mexico's history, from pre-Cuauhtemoc Mexico to the present.

The museum offers a comprehensive insight into Mexico's cultural legacy, with over 6,000 art pieces on display. In addition, the museum hosts traveling exhibitions that tour other museums across the United States and Mexico. The National Museum of Mexican Art's Education Department provides various programs and classes for interested patrons, including bilingual tours, lectures, and workshops. These programs are taught by experienced in-house or independent artists and are available in English and Spanish, deepening your understanding of Mexican art, history, and culture.

National Veterans Art Museum
National Veterans Art Museum

(312) 326-0270

4041 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60641   Directions Website

The National Veterans Art Museum is committed to collecting, preserving, and exhibiting art created by military personnel inspired by their experiences during active duty. The museum's focus is mainly on the Vietnam War, and its primary goal is to increase the public's understanding of the impact of conflict. By showcasing artworks created by military veterans, the museum aims to encourage dialogue about the effects of war, including its physical, mental, and emotional consequences.

Since its establishment, the museum has amassed a significant collection of artwork created by veterans who have served in various wars, including WWII, Korea, the Gulf War, and the Global War on Terror. The collection now comprises over 2,000 pieces, a considerable increase from the 700 works created by 115 artists who served in the Vietnam War. These veterans come from different parts of the world, such as the United States, Australia, Cambodia, Hungary, Thailand, and North and South Vietnam. The museum's collection includes paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture, and literary works by military writers like Kurt Vonnegut and Tim O'Brien. The museum also offers interactive exhibitions, allowing visitors to engage with the ideas and themes presented.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum | Judy Istock Butterfly Haven
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum | Judy Istock Butterfly Haven

(773) 755-5100

2430 N Cannon Dr
Chicago, IL 60614   Directions Website

If you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven is a perfect place to visit. Here, you can get up close and personal with over 40 exotic, free-flying butterflies and several stunning bird species from the Southern Hemisphere. The greenhouse, which spans 2,700 square feet, features serene pools of water, flowers, tropical trees, and over 1,000 butterflies, giving you the feeling of being in summer all year round.

If you're interested in witnessing the life cycle of a butterfly from caterpillar to chrysalis to the very first flight, you should take advantage of the First Flight Butterfly Release. Moreover, they offer weekly Butterfly Haven Yoga sessions if you want to spend more time in the Butterfly Haven.

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