The 11 Best Museums In Chicago You Should Explore In 2022
The highest concentration of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in the world and one of the world’s top Impressionist collections are just a few of the superlatives that describe the treasures of the premier museums in Chicago. Learn about art, science, history and beyond at the best museums in Chicago has to offer.
Whether you’re interested in Pacific white-sided dolphins or Egyptian mummies, one of the city’s cultural institutions is sure to have what you’re looking for. Whatever your interest, from literature to art to architecture, you’ll find its expression in one of the best museums in Chicago.
The city is well-suited to both families with young children looking for a safe and entertaining location to play for an hour, as well as older folks who are more interested in finding out about rare and obscure works of art.
Here, our list of the best museums in Chicago. While several of the museums on our list have already opened to the public, keep an eye out for new openings this spring.
Best Museums In Chicago
Don’t ask yourself if you should visit one of Chicago’s many museums and cultural centers. Instead, let us help you figure out which one. Want to see one of the best art collections in the world? Now is the time to go to the Art Institute.
Love all things natural history and dinosaur bones? On Museum Campus, get tickets to the Field Museum. The city’s museums are some of the best places to visit in Chicago, whether you like art, history, architecture, or just want a fun way to spend an afternoon.
Tripononline has created a list of the best options to choose from to help you make the most of this important decision. Plan a day to see the best museums in Chicago.
1. Field Museum of Natural History
The Field Museum of Natural History is a grand shrine to the natural wonders of the world. It is the center of the Museum Campus, which is also home to the Shedd Aquarium. The museum’s goal is to learn about, protect, and celebrate nature and culture. One of the top museums in Chicago.
This includes things like dinosaur skeletons and priceless gems. It’s so big that it’s hard to believe, and its collections cover a wide range of fields and cultures. You should never skip a stop at SUE, which has the most complete T. Rex skeleton in the world.
This huge natural history museum was built to hold the biological and anthropological collections for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. It still has more than 20 permanent exhibitions that cover 480,000 square feet.
People come from all over the world to see huge dinosaurs, ancient artefacts from a royal Egyptian tomb, and a Chinese rock garden hidden inside the Cyrus Tang Hall of China.
2. Art Institute of Chicago
If you are looking for culture in Chicago, the first place you should go is the Art Institute. It is the most impressive museum in the city. It is a Beaux-Arts gem with two bronze lions that are as much a symbol of the city as the Willis Tower.
It also has one of the best collections of impressionist art you’ll find anywhere. Plan to walk around the next-door Millennium Park while you’re there. The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the most famous cultural buildings in the city, thanks to the pair of bronze lions that guard the grand steps that lead up to the front door. One of the best art museums in Chicago.
Once you get inside, it’s just as impressive as it looks from the outside. It has a permanent collection of almost 300,000 works of art, including thousands of paintings, sculptures, photos, and drawings spread out over a huge complex of galleries and halls.
If you’re a first-time visitor, make a beeline for Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (seen in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off — high and low culture is the best mix, after all) and the modern collection in the Modern Wing.
The Thorne Miniatures Rooms, which are said to be a favorite of director Wes Anderson, are in the basement of the museum. There are also travelling exhibits about artists like Andy Warhol and Van Gogh. There might be too much art at this place, at least for one day, but we’re not going to complain.
3. Chicago History Museum
This lively museum, which used to be called the Chicago Historical Society, remembers the past through exhibits that look at historical figures like Abraham Lincoln and local favorites like the Chicago-style hot dog. Range!
In “Chicago: Crossroads of America,” people can ride an old L car or look at lithographs of the city that were made in the 1860s. If you need information about Chicago’s history for a project, you can sign up to use the museum’s Research Library.
It has thousands of photos, books, and artefacts that show the city’s past. It’s near Old Town and right inside Lincoln Park, so it’s a great place to start a long walk along the lake.
4. Museum of Contemporary Art
The MCA is one of the museums in the city that changes almost all the time. It has a small permanent collection, so it depends on special shows, which can be anything from large-scale installations to video, fashion, music, photography, and more.
These shows feature both well-known artists and up-and-coming underground avant-garde artists. Some of the shows that have been there in the past are David Bowie Is, The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg by Takashi Murakami, and Figures of Speech by Virgil Abloh.
The museum is also known for the writers’ and artists’ talks and performance series it has put on. It also has one of the best gift shops ever and one of the most unique museums in Chicago.
5. Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park is a 14-acre museum about science and technology. It is housed in a building that was built for the Columbian Exposition in 1893. Most of the exhibits here sell because people take part. The Museum of Science and Industry is full of interactive exhibits that kids and adults of all ages will enjoy.
Even if you graduated high school decades ago, displays like the restored U-505 German submarine, a simulated coal mine, and a recreation of a Chicago street from 1910 might make you feel like you’re on a school field trip again — but a good one with a better lunch! Keep in mind that the building you are walking through was built for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893.
For example, you can crawl through a real World War II submarine, ride down a coal shaft, and climb on John Deere tractors. Science displays cover everything from human biology to storms and space travel (the actual Apollo 8 module is here). There is also an IMAX theatre that has its own entrance and shows that change all the time.
6. Shedd Aquarium
On the shores of Lake Michigan, you can see everything in the ocean, from the Caribbean reef to the Arctic waters. There are about 32,000 animals here. The white-sided dolphins in the Pacific, beluga whales, sharks, stingrays, and some very cute otters are all big draws.
The Field Museum of Natural History is also on the Museum Campus. Most of them can be seen up close and personal on the private tours, which the Shedd calls “experiences” and are mostly virtual these days. Shedd Aquarium is one of the best museums to visit in Chicago.
There are seven permanent exhibits at the aquarium, so it’s easy to spend a whole day at the Shedd. We suggest making a list of a few must-see exhibits before you go to make the most of your time. Or you could just make a list and check off the rest when you come back.
7. The Oriental Institute Museum
The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago has been leading excavations and research projects in the SWANA (South West Asia and North Africa) region for more than a century. These projects help us learn about our shared history.
Some of the artefacts date back as far as 6,000 years. They include an old saddle, jugs, bowls, and incense burners made of clay, and some of the famous Megiddo Ivories.
Also on display are things from ancient Assyria, Anatolia, Israel, Egypt, and Persia, as well as a 40-ton sculpture of a bull with a human head and wings from Khorsabad that is hard to miss.
8. American Writers Museum
The small American Writers Museum is right in the middle of all the tourists on Michigan Avenue. It celebrates the power of the written word and the many voices that shape it.
Interactive activities, regular (and highly recommended) visits from writers, and exhibits like Tools of the Trade, which has more than a dozen typewriters used by famous writers like Orson Welles, Hugh Hefner, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ernest Hemingway, Mae West, and Truman Capote, keep things interesting.
The layout is easy to get around and almost relaxing, and there aren’t too many things to see, so you’ll be able to see everything in less than two hours. So don’t rush. You might remember how much fun it is to read.
9. Chicago Architecture Center
The dedication of this museum to giving visitors a three-dimensional experience is impressive. A two-story scale model of the Jeddah Tower stands by the front door. It points to the main Skyscraper Gallery, which is full of models of famous tall buildings from around the world, like the Chrysler Building in New York and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
And in the Chicago Gallery, more than 4,000 miniature buildings show the modern city. They are used as a backdrop for a sound and light show that shows how the city grew after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
The CAC makes most of its money from its 85 architectural tours, which can be taken on foot, by boat, by bus, or by train. The boat tours of architecture leave from a dock on the other side of the street.
The walking tours that start right in the center are a good way to learn about the changes in downtown, but the neighborhood walking tours in Hyde Park and Kenwood are even better. All tours cost extra on top of the price of admission.
10. Museum of Illusions Chicago
This small, 5,000-square-foot museum is right in the middle of the Loop. It is one of about 30 similar museums that focus on magic and optical illusions and grew out of the first one, which opened in Zagreb in 2015.
The fun place was made with Instagram in mind, and it loves games and puzzles. There is a room with mirrors that looks like it goes on forever, a tunnel that spins like a vortex, and a room where the furniture is on the walls.
There are also holograms, optical illusions, and stickers that show you how to take the best photo. If you like to figure things out, you’ll love the gift shop, which is full of puzzles, games, and books. One of the most unique museums in Chicago.
11. Smart Museum of Art
The Smart Museum of Art is on the campus of the University of Chicago in Hyde Park. It was designed to be a place where scholars could study art and make exhibitions. Today, it’s open to the public and always free to get in.
It’s where the college keeps its collection of fine art and ancient artefacts, such as scrolls and ceramics from China and modern works by artists like Andy Warhol and Kerry James Marshall.
Before taking a seat in the museum’s courtyard sculpture garden, you can look at displays about large installations and local art movements. The Smart Museum of Art is one of the best art museums in Chicago.
Join our email list here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more stories like this by subscribing to Tripononline
You Might Also Like
- The 11 Best Bars In Los Angeles To Grab A Drink At In 2022
- The 13 Best Hotels With Pool In San Francisco For A Memorable Experience 
- The 10 Best Restaurants in Orlando That You Must Try 
- The 13 Best Luxury Hotels in San Diego Are Well Worth the Money 
- The 13 Best Places To Visit In The USA For An Unforgettable Trip 
- The 9 Best National Parks In California 
- The 11 Best Hotels in New York City For A Perfect Vacation