Exhibit Hopping – 10 Exciting Museums in Chicago to Visit

Museums in Chicago - Field Museum

Updated On: November 08, 2023 by   Courtney AugelloCourtney Augello

Museums in Chicago - Field Museum
The Field Museum is one of the oldest museums in Chicago.

When you plan a visit to Chicago, taking a tour through the city’s museums is a must for your itinerary. But, with over 60 museums to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which ones to visit.

To help you make the most of your visit, we’ve listed our top 10 museums in Chicago.

1: Field Museum

One of the oldest museums in Chicago, the Field Museum opened in 1893. It is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. On exhibit at the museum are a collection of fossils, gems, scientific specimens, and cultural artefacts.

The most popular attraction at the Field Museum is Sue the T-Rex. Sue is one of the world’s largest and most in-tact t-rex fossils ever discovered. Sue has been bringing crowds to the museum since 2000.

2: MSI

The Museum of Science and Industry is located in Jackson Park in Chicago. It was established in 1933 and features exhibits based around the past and future of human civilization, natural wonders, and technological advancement.

The most popular exhibit here is the Coal Mine, which takes visitors down a mineshaft into Illinois’ past. The attraction features actual historic mining equipment from Old Ben #17, a 1933 coal mine. Although this exhibit costs extra for admission, it is an iconic part of the MSI that you can’t miss.

3: Adler Planetarium

The Adler Planetarium is one of the most fascinating museums in Chicago. Since its opening in 1930, locals and tourists alike have visited the planetarium to get a closer look at our night skies.

This museum is home to 3 theatres and many space exhibits, such as the space capsule from Gemini 12. Adler Planetarium is also well known for its fun events, such as Astro Overnights, where guests can sleep at the museum.

Museums in Chicago - Adler
There are 3 theatres at Adler Planetarium.

4: Chicago Children’s Museum

Located at Navy Pier, the Chicago Children’s Museum is one of the best museums in Chicago for families. The museum was opened in 1982 as a response to the Chicago Public School system budget cuts.

Today, the Children’s museum spans over 84,000 square feet and features exhibits tailored to toddlers, young children, and tweens. These attractions include interactive spaces such as the Dinosaur Expedition, where children can dig up fossils and Kids Town, which features a grocery store and numerous vehicles for kids to explore.

5: Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium was established in Chicago in 1930 by John G. Shedd. It was the first aquarium with a permanent indoor saltwater tank, and today it is home to over 30,000 animals and fish.

The Shedd Aquarium takes guests through the various waterways of the world, including the Caribbean Reef, Amazon Rising, and Chicago’s local waters. The museum even has a stingray tank where guests can pet the backs of the rays as they swim past.

The Shedd Aquarium is also a great place for families and children to visit. It has interactive exhibits such as the Polar Play Zone, where children can climb and explore the fish and wildlife from that area.

With its interactivity, expanse collection of species, and educational shows, the Shedd Aquarium is one of the most interesting museums in Chicago.

6: International Museum of Surgical Science

Although this is one of the less-known museums in Chicago, the International Museum of Surgical Science is an interesting place to visit. The museum was founded in 1954 and is designed to replicate the building style of Versailles.

This museum features exhibits organised by surgical disciplines. The displays include skeletons, medical equipment, photographs, and other historical artefacts of the industry. If you are interested in medical science or want to see how medicine has evolved, this is one of the most interesting museums in Chicago to check out.

Museums in Chicago - Art Institute
The Art Institute of Chicago features sculptures, paintings, and more.

7: The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute is one of the many art museums in Chicago, but it has the most history in the city. Since its opening in 1879, the museum has welcomed over 1.5 million visitors yearly. With over 300,000 works of art within its walls, it is no wonder that the Art Institute is so popular.

The museum displays paintings and sculptures by famous artists such as Rembrandt, Monet, and van Gogh. Of the museum’s more popular sections is the Picasso exhibit, where guests can stroll through the halls of his works.

The unique collection of sculptures, paintings, textiles, and pottery secures the Art Institute of Chicago’s place among our top 10 museums in Chicago to visit.

8: Chicago Sports Museum

The Chicago Sports Museum opened its doors in 2014 in the Water Tower Place mall on the Magnificent Mile. This museum features exhibits of unique memorabilia from Chicago’s teams, signed uniforms and game-used equipment, and even has interactive skills challenges for guests to try.

Among the skill challenges are the opportunity to score a goal like the Chicago Blackhawks, shoot a 3-pointer like a Bulls basketball player, or run in a touchdown like a Chicago Bear. If you want to test your Chicago sports knowledge, you can also play trivia games at the museum.

Whether you’re a die-hard Chicago sports fan or just enjoy sports in general, the Sports Museum is one of the top museums in Chicago to visit.

Museums in Chicago - Hull house
The Hull House helped immigrants succeed in Chicago.

9: Jane Addams Hull-House Museum

The Hull House was a settlement building in Chicago that opened in 1889. The house was created by university women to house and support working-class people in the City. These people were typically newly-arrived European immigrants.

At the Hull House, classes on culture, literature, and history and lectures on current events were available. The goal of the house was to reform the working class and create an environment of prosperity for Chicagoans.

Today, the Hull-House Museum is located on the University of Illinois Chicago campus. It is one of the most historical museums in Chicago and serves as a reminder of the Hull House’s mission, achievements in social reform, and impact on public policy.

10: Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio

First constructed in 1889, Frank Lloyd Wright and his family lived in the home until 1909. This museum features the original house designed by Wright and his furniture and textiles furnishing the home.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and added to the list of National Historic Landmarks four years later. If you’re interested in the history of American architecture, this is one of the best museums in Chicago to check out.

Museums in Chicago - FLW house
Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the most famous American architects.

The Museums in Chicago are Wonderful Places to Visit

From fine arts to the history of medical advancement, Chicago has museums that fit every category, so matter what you’re interested in, you’ll be sure to find it in the Windy City.

To make your trip through Chicago’s museums even better, the city frequently offers sales on admission prices and even free entry days. Whether you visit one or all of these museums in Chicago, you’ll be surrounded by interesting and educational exhibits.

If you’re planning a visit to Chicago, check out our list of things to do in the city.

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