10 Museums in Chicago You May Not Know
If you love Chicago Chicago, you know it’s way more than the Mag Mile, the Loop, and Wrigley Field. Once you delve deep into the culture here, you’ll find so many places to explore. And we know you’re familiar with our world-class museums, such as the Field Museum of Natural History, the Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Natural History. But here are a few off-the-beaten-path museums within city limits you may not have visited yet – and you should.
National Museum of Mexican Art
You’ll get free admission to this museum in the Pilsen neighborhood, which showcases 3,000 years of creativity and connects visitors to Mexican culture through art. Right now the special exhibit is “Placemaking & Landmarks: The Creation of Mexican Spaces in la Dieciocho (Pilsen)” and “Luis Tapia: Sculpture as Sanctuary.”
Frederick C. Robie House
Although it’s currently offering limited access because of a major renovation, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House is a beautiful example of the type of Prairie Style architecture that Wright pioneered. Take a tour from knowledgeable interpreters who can shed light on Wright, his work, and his Chicago roots. This is a good chance to see a restoration in progress! And if you want more Wright, you can also check out The Rookery in the Loop.
DuSable Museum of African American History
The DuSable Museum is a small but exciting institution designed to inspire understanding and appreciation for the achievements and experiences of African Americans. The featured exhibits are “Clearing A Path for Democracy: Citizen Soldiers of the Eight Illinois National Guard” and “Rewriting History: paper gowns and photographs.” Museum is closed Mondays and free on Tuesdays.
International Museum of Surgical Science
Here, you’ll find more than 7,000 medical artifacts from multiple centuries. These include tools, original x-rays, skulls, and fine art. This is North America’s only museum devoted to surgery, and it features everything from mysteries to breakthroughs. Learn about history and modern healing practices and everything in between! Open daily.
Museum of Broadcast Communications
Interested in the media? This cool space narrates a history that includes radio, television, and the Internet. Right now, you can go there and check out “Saturday Night Life: The Experience,” complete with interactive sets and props, or visit “Watching TV in the 1990s.” Sounds like fun, right? The museum is closed on Mondays.
American Writer’s Museum
This little museum on the Mag Mile is the first of its kind in the country. State-of-the-art exhibitions take you into the mind of a writer, children’s literature, and more. Special exhibits right now include “Capturing Stories: Photographs of Writers by Art Shay” and “Laura Ingalls Wilder: From Prairie to Page.” The museum is closed on Mondays.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
This cool museum, across the street from Lincoln Park Zoo, is a perfect place for families to explore nature. There are places to climb and explore, both inside and outside, and the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven is the best! Try to come during a butterfly release. You’ll see plenty of other live animals as well, and the “Birds of Paradise” current exhibit. Thursdays are suggested donation days for Illinois residents.
Pritzker Military Museum & Library
You might miss this multi-story space because it’s a bit dwarfed by the Art Institute across this street. But if you’re at all interested in military history and the intersection of politics, international relations, and people, you might enjoy a visit. The special exhibit now is “Lest We Forget: Sailors, Sammies, and Doughboys over there in World War I.”
Over at the University of Chicago, you can explore the ancient world with art and artifacts from the ancient Near East. Right now the museum is being enhanced, so some exhibitions are temporarily closed, but the collection here is really significant and exciting. The special exhibitions right now are “The Book of the Dead: Becoming God in Ancient Egypt” and “The First 100 Years: Anatolian Studies in Chicago.” Museum is closed on Mondays.
Smart Museum of Art
Also at the University of Chicago, this art museum features 15,000 objects in collections spanning Asian art, contemporary art, European art, and more. Current exhibits are designed to show how the Museum shaes the intellectual life of the school with the public. They include “The History of Perception,” “Selections from A History of Modernism,” and “Conversation with the Collection: Building/Environments.” Museum is closed on Mondays, and is free.
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