13 Best Chicago Museums
World-class museums abound in Chicago. Whether you’re looking to explore art, history, science or nature, the city has a museum – or several – for you. Head to the Art Institute of Chicago to see one of the largest collections of Impressionism outside of the Louvre. Visit the Field Museum to indulge your love of dinosaurs. Visit the Museum of Science and Industry to see a submarine, a coal mine and a restored 727. Or delve deep into African-American, Mexican-American, and Ukrainian culture at museums dedicated to each of these communities.
Here are 13 Chicago museums for your next trip to the Windy City.
Chicago Art Institute
This must-see downtown Chicago art museum is home to more than 300,000 works and the largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art outside of the Louvre. The art institute traces its history back to 1879 and that’s where you’ll find Edward Hopper’s ‘Nighthawks’, Pablo Picasso’s ‘The Old Guitarist’, Vincent van Gogh’s ‘The Bedroom’ and Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’. A modern art wing houses pieces by Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Jackson Pollock. Don’t miss the museum garden and check the calendar for special events.
Chicago History Museum
It’s a place history museum rising from the ashes — literally. It is the museum of the Chicago Historical Society, whose original collection was destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The museum chronicles the development of Chicago and the city’s influence on American history. It is home to the first passenger car to run on Chicago’s iconic L train.
Museum of Science and Industry
You could easily spend a whole day at Museum of Science and Industry in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. One of the largest science museums in the Western Hemisphere, this is a place where you can learn about technology, medicine, and engineering. Ride an elevator in a coal mine, explore a restored United 727 or U-505 submarine, or take a seat on the Pioneer Zephyr, one of the first diesel-electric passenger trains in the United States.
Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center
This museum just outside the city limits in Skokie tells a difficult subject in a sensitive and engaging way. An augmented reality exhibit allows visitors to step inside a concentration camp, giving a sense of the harsh living conditions endured by the Jewish people held against their will. Through another exhibit, visitors can hear an Auschwitz survivor depicted via a hologram. The museum also has several child-friendly exhibits and is a popular place for school outings.
The Field Museum, not far from Chicago’s iconic Soldier Field football stadium, is one of the world’s best-known museums of natural art. Its collection includes more than 24 million objects and covers more than four billion years of history. This is where you’ll find Sue, the world’s most complete T. rex. Visitors can also enter an ancient Egyptian burial chamber that houses nearly two dozen mummies.
DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center
This museum is one of the nation’s oldest institutions dedicated to the preservation and study of African-American art, history, and culture. It chronicles the culture and experiences of African Americans through more than 15,000 articles and is named after Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, the son of an enslaved Frenchman and Haitian woman and the first non-Indigenous settler of what is today Chicago.
National Museum of Mexican Art
This museum in Chicago’s trendy Pilsen neighborhood is designed to tell the story of the Mexican community in their own voice and perspective. It opened in 1982, at a time when Mexican art and culture was overlooked by many organizations. The National Museum of Mexican Art was the first Latino museum to gain accreditation in the United States and has since moved into a 48,000 square foot space in Pilsen, home to a community of Mexican Americans.
Museum of Modern Art
This museum, which opened in 1967, is one of the world’s leading institutions for contemporary visual art. Its post-WWII collection is organized into multiple galleries spanning minimalism, surrealism, pop art, and more. The museum hosted Frida Kahlo’s first American exhibition and Jeff Koons’ first solo exhibition. Its collection of over 2,000 pieces includes pieces by Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol. Don’t miss its magnificent staircase or its epic views of Lake Michigan.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
If you love butterflies, put this museum at the top of your list. Retracing its history until 1857, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is dedicated to exploring the natural history of the Chicago area, but is best known for its butterflies. It houses a butterfly house with more than 200 species. It also offers over 100 education programs.
Frederick C. Robie House
This Frank Lloyd Wright house is considered one of the most important architectural structures of the 20th century. Built between 1909 and 1910 as a single-family home, the Robie House now owned by the University of Chicago. It is one of the best examples of Frank Lloyd Wright’s signature Prairie School style, an architectural approach intended to help homes blend into the prairies of the Midwest.
Chicago Sports Museum
Sports fans, this is the Chicago Museum you can’t miss. The 23,000 square foot space combines sports memorabilia, skill testing and simulations. Try scoring goals like a Chicago Blackhawk or shooting free throws like a Chicago Bull. Baseball plus your speed? Dive into the Chicago Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory.
This Chicago downtown museum offers insight into late 19th and early 20th century art, architecture and design. His collection is housed in a beautiful Gilded Age mansion near Michigan Avenue. The mansion was restored in the early 2000s and its collection includes a Chickering & Sons piano, an 18-light Tiffany Lily table lamp and an inkwell commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria.
Ukrainian National Museum
This museum houses one of the largest collections of Ukrainian arts and crafts in the United States, including traditional clothing, textiles, ceramics, woodcarvings, and more. The museum is located in the Ukrainian Village, a residential area known for its Ukrainian restaurants, cafes and cocktail bars. Chicago is home to one of the largest Ukrainian communities in the United States