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Chicago Best Museums

Chicago Most Visited Museums

    There is no place in the world like Chicago for just about everything. If you want it, you got it! Whether you are in the mood for fine dining, great parks, beachside fun, and stellar shopping this major city has it all. A World Series winning baseball team? Sorry Cubs fans, not since 1908. If you want winning entertainment though, this is especially true of the museums that are all around town. You can visit them endlessly and never get to see everyone they have to offer. So here’s a great list to get you started on the best Chicago museums that are a must see on your list if you are just visiting on vacation, or if you live there full time. It’s worth it to explore each one in detail to learn all you can about significant art, culture, and scientific endeavours.    

The Art Institute of Chicago

  This award winning museum should be at the top of your list if you are an art admirer. There are more than 300,000 works of art or actual artifacts of days gone by in this extraordinary museum space. Located in Millennium Park, this place has a variety of exhibits on permanent display but they also cater to roving exhibitions that tour the world’s stage in the art genre. Don’t miss the Thorne Miniature Room, or anything at all to do with the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s a bit pricey to go, around $23, but from 5p-8pm on Thursday it’s free for Chicago residents. Luckily for families, kids 13 and under are free of charge.

The Field Museum

  This massive natural history museum is one of the best anywhere in the world. Historically significant since it’s been around for over 100 years. It was created during the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. When you plan a trip there make sure you have the entire day to explore the over 300,000 square feet of exhibition space that this unique museum offers. There are more than 30 permanent exhibits, but check their event calendar on their webpage to discover the temporary traveling exhibits that frequent the museum during different times of the year. Not only is the inside of the place amazing, but it’s located right along the waterfront so you can get a great vantage view of Lake Michigan from many parts of the museum inside and out. Pack picnic lunch to enjoy outdoors around the grounds near the lake when the weather is nice enough.

The Shedd Aquarium

 With over 32,000 species of fish and aquatic life, the Shedd Aquarium is the place to go to experience this beautiful type of nature. The aquatic show with dolphins, whales and sea otters goes on during the warmer months. Even in the winter there are plenty of exhibits to enjoy inside the museum. The seasonal stingray exhibit is also a treat for the little ones, since they can actually touch the animals if they would like to. Other exhibits to look for are Amazon Rising, Caribbean Reef, and Polar Play Zone which has a kids sized submarine for them to explore. When they get hungry stop by the Soundlings Cafe for fresh salads, and sandwiches. The gift shop should be your last stop to pick up a souvenir to take home. Since the museum operates as a non-profit, anything you purchase in the gift shop will directly benefit the animals at the museum.

Museum of Contemporary Art

  For an art lover this is a must see exhibition space. This Museum of Contemporary Art houses a whopping collection of great modern art that is bigger than most msmes in the country. You can find works by greats like Andy Warhol, and contemporaries such as Mark Rothko’s large bold color block art installations. Tuesdays are the day to go if you are a resident of the city, since it’s complimentary with a valid driver’s license. Otherwise admission is around $12. The “MCA” as it’s called also has a great gift shop to take home souvenirs of your visit if you favored a specific print, just ask and they might have it for sale in the shop. There is also a 300 seat theater that showcases live dance, music, and other theatrical production for patrons of the arts who go there. If you feel so inspired the museum offers a variety of workshops to try your own hand at art projects like their “Pop Art Workshop” that is taught by local artists and studio teachers. They even have programs available for children as well who have caught the art bug.

The Museum of Science and Industry

If you have any budding bio-chemists or engineers in your family then you might want to visit the Museum of Science and Industry to explore all things scientific. This cool, interactive space is appealing to kids and grownups alike. Some of the inhibits explore historical things like the U505 German submarine, or health related topics such as “why we sneeze.” There is even a fairly castle exhibit called, “Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle” which is an actual real structure within the museum space. An Omnimax theater showcases the latest documentaries about the natural world such as “Journey To Space” for budding astronauts, and “Humpback Whales” for those marine life biology students in your family. Actually anyone can enjoy either show in this giant theater with a screen that is 5 stories high in a wrap around dome with stadium seats. Admission to the entire museum is between $15-$18.

The Adler Planetarium

  If you have star lovers in your family then you are going to want to plan on visiting this very popular planetarium. The Sky Theater is where the show really gets started. Most of the staff these are actual astrologers who have PHD’s in the subject as real researchers. Their special “Mission Moon” exhibit chronicles the early days of the space race and you can see the actual Gemini 12 capsule on display. It’s open every day of the week from 9:30am to 4:30 pm with tickets ranging from $8-$12 with discounts for Chicago area residents.

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

  For all things that deal with the great outdoors, this museum is a true gem to visit. It’s built on a lagoon, and has a variety of animal, mineral, and vegetable exhibits. Well, it talks a lot about plant life and vegetation actually. For a real treat, visit the 2700 square foot butterfly habitat that is a free roaming space for these gorgeous creatures. You’ll be enchanted at how fun it is to walk among them. The kids will get a big kick out of chasing the butterflies around as well. Thursdays are complimentary for residents of Illinois, and ticket range from $6-$9 with children 3 and under free. So it’s a good deal for the whole family especially if you have some little ones in the bunch.

Chicago History Museum

1601 North Clark Street - Exhibitions -Abraham Lincoln: Lincoln was a frequent visitor to Chicago; the city became his second home and political headquarters. -Facing Freedom: What does freedom mean? -Chicago: Crossroads of America: The first passenger car to operate on the Chicago (L) in 1893. -The Dioramas: Learn the story of Chicago's rise from a desolate frontier outpost in 1804 to the bustling city that hosted the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893



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