Chicago has so many museums, it can be hard to choose one to visit. Whether you are looking for a wide representation of world history, a spotlight on a specific culture or insight into a famous Chicagoan, the following museums are sure to broaden your horizons.
If you haven’t yet explored Chicago’s Museum Campus, on the shores of Lake Michigan, be sure to add it to your list. Built in 1893 for the World’s Columbian Expedition, the Field Museum offers insight into human evolution and an array of natural wonders, including an impressive collection of dinosaur bones. Make it a full day or weekend by also visiting its neighbors, the Adler Planetarium and the Shedd Aquarium.
If the Art Institute seems overwhelming, head up the Magnificent Mile to the Terra Foundation for American Art, with its curated collection of works by American artists, and the City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower, which highlights local photography. Completed in 1869, the Water Tower was one of the few buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
Military historians will relish the collections housed at the Pritzker Military Museum and Library. Founded in 2003 by Colonel J.N. Pritzker, the museum includes artifacts and books dating back to the Revolutionary War. To extend your tour, go west to Cantigney Park in Wheaton for the First Division Museum and a large collection of military tanks and vehicles. This 29-acre property belonged to Colonel Robert R. McCormick, who published and edited The Chicago Tribune for 44 years after serving in World War I.
Also to the west, the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park pays homage to one of Chicago’s most renowned architects. Get inspired in the place where Wright and his associate’s perfected the Prairie style of architecture, which is replicated throughout the Midwest.
Continue your lesson on famous Chicagoans by visiting Jane Addams Hull-House, which commemorates the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, who dedicated her life to influencing change and policy related to immigration, labor, public health and more. Train lovers and historians alike will enjoy the Pullman Historic District, a community built in the 1880s for the employees of Pullman’s Palace Car Company.
Chicago’s population is about as diverse as it comes and is mirrored by its array of ethnic museums. Established in 1935, the Polish Museum of America in West Town tells the history of the Polish people and their experience in America. The National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen includes more than 8,500 permanent pieces illustrating 3,000 years of Mexican culture. The DuSable Museum of African American History in Hyde Park boasts a unique collection of art, publications and memorabilia about the history and culture of Africans and African Americans. Founded in 1961, the museum is named for Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, who in 1779 established the settlement that would become Chicago.
No matter where your interests lie or what neighborhood you want to explore, Chicago offers many museums that are sure to please everyone.