Museums in Chicago: A Must-See List for Every Curious Mind

From ancient artifacts, stunning works of art, intriguing science exhibitions, to vivid slices of history, these establishments in the Windy City offer you a rich, learning-filled journey.

If you’ve got an insatiable curiosity and love exploring the depths of art, culture, science, history and beyond, Chicago museums are a treasure trove waiting to be discovered. No matter what you’re looking to learn about or explore, museums in Chicago have something catered for you.

Visitors can discover the wonders of astronomy at the Adler Planetarium, travel back in time at the Field Museum of Natural History, or marvel at masterpieces in the Art Institute of Chicago.

Whether you’re a resident or a tourist, these museums offer insightful experiences that go beyond simple sight-seeing. So prepare to leave the hustle and bustle behind you, and dive into a world of knowledge and inspiration.

Get ready to uncover fascinating stories, learn, and have fun at the same time at Chicago’s museums.

Cosmic wonder at adler planetariumAdler Planetarium

As you plan your visit to the best museums in Chicago, make sure to include the Adler Planetarium on your must-see list. This astronomical museum, established in 1930, is a marvel for anyone interested in outer space and celestial bodies.

Here, you’ll find powerful telescopes, immersive theaters, and interactive exhibitions that bring the universe a little closer to home. Whether you’re a seasoned stargazer or just starting to explore the cosmos, the Adler Planetarium offers an experience like no other.

And did you know Adler Planetarium was the first planetarium in the United States of America? When you need a break, stop by Café Galileo’s by Food For Thought – the perfect spot to refuel while pondering the mysteries of space.

Museum of Science and Industry

Step inside the vast expanses of the Museum of Science and Industry, where over 400,000 square feet of immersive exhibits await your curious mind. With its boundless offering of exhibits and experiences, it’s no surprise the Museum of Science and Industry ranks among the best Chicago museums.

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Let curiosity guide you along the mechanics of a Boeing 747, revealing the intricacies of flight. Engage in a virtual reality spacewalk or test your prowess in flight simulators.

Plus, you can also delve into rotating exhibits which tease your curiosity. Past showings include the scientific mastery behind Pixar’s animation and an intimate exploration into the mystical underwater realms. You won’t want to miss it!

Woman looking at a piece of art while others look at more art along other wallsArt Institute of Chicago

When exploring the rich tapestry of museums in Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago is an unmissable destination. Known for housing masterpieces from world-renowned artists and Chicago natives alike, it definitely exemplifies the city’s thriving art scene.

The collections are diverse, with each wing and hall filled with works that extend from history to present-day contemporary pieces. A visit to the Art Institute isn’t complete without viewing Pablo Picasso’s evocative piece, “The Old Guitarist,” among other iconic works.

The experience is a sensory journey through corridors draped in color, conjuring a vibrant range of emotions. It is truly a place of discovery where every turn can introduce you to a new and resonating piece of artistic expression.

Wonder Museum Chicago

Unleash your inner wonderment at the WNDR Museum, a fascinating addition to Chicago’s vibrant museum scene. This immersive experience combines aspects of art, science, and technology, creating an interactive exhibit unlike any other.

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Test your creative thinking by constructing electric circuits, dig for dinosaur bones, or lie on a bed of nails. See lightning zap before your eyes in the Reactor room, then head next door to the Spinning Vortex to get delightfully dizzy.

Alongside your journey, don’t miss the chance to capture memorable moments in its unique and futuristic settings. No matter your age, the WNDR Museum offers an unforgettably fun, interactive experience for the young at heart.

children looking at displays inside the Chicago Children's Museum in Chicago, Illinois, USAChicago Children’s Museum

Plan a visit to Chicago with kids? Fear not! There’s a gem in the city specifically curated for your little ones: The Chicago Children’s Museum. Nestled near the vibrant Navy Pier, this museum brings alive a delightful fusion of imagination and learning.

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As they explore, your kids can absorb knowledge about waterways, embark on an artistic journey, or even step back in time with dinosaurs. Don’t miss the Kovler Family Climbing Schooner – a perfect spot for young adventurers to expend their energy!

Pro Tip: Make sure to schedule your Chicago Children’s Museum visit for a Thursday evening. Why? The museum offers ‘Free Family Nights’ with free admission!

American Writers Museum

Enter the colorful world of American literature at the American Writers Museum, a sanctuary dedicated to celebrating the works and lives of America’s greatest literary figures. Explore various interactive exhibits that dive into the origins, evolution, inspirations, and cultural significance of American literature.

Lose yourself in the works of titans like Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and Maya Angelou. Discover lesser-known masters and rising stars across the broad spectrum of America’s literary heritage.

Participate in enlightening workshops, literature-themed events, and spirited author talks. As you explore the Windy City, don’t forget to add the American Writers Museum to your list of museums to visit in Chicago, a true treasure trove for literature lovers.

A painting depicting Abraham Lincolns last hours by Alonzo Chappel at the Chicago History Museum in Chicago, Illinois, USA
photo credit: Chicago History Museum via Facebook

Chicago History Museum

If you’re yearning to understand more about the Windy City’s rich history, the Chicago History Museum is the place for you. Here, you can ride a high-wheel bicycle, learn about the devastating Great Chicago Fire, and get a glimpse at the lives of past residents.

Packed with more than 22 million historic artifacts from around the city, this museum is a treasure trove of knowledge. Absorb the depth of Chicago’s past through the museum’s educational audio tour.

Pssst…want to make the most of your Chicago journey? Consider booking a Go Chicago Explorer Pass through Tripster. Explore multiple other attractions at a discounted rate and immerse yourself in all the facets of this vibrant city.

Museum of Contemporary Art

If contemporary art tickles your fancy, then you’ll definitely love one of the stellar museums in Chicago: the Museum of Contemporary Art. Renowned for its captivating exhibits and featured artists, it’s regarded as one of the city’s finest cultural offerings.

In addition to their persistent displays, this vibrant hub for creatives regularly organizes a variety of events and programs. These endeavors aim to celebrate and delve deep into different art forms and mediums, ensuring you’re continuously exposed to something fresh and thought-provoking.

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Every month, you can look forward to everything from musical performances to talks by established artists. It’s this dynamic, interactive approach that distinguishes the Museum of Contemporary Art and bolsters its position in the realm of must-visit musuems in Chicago.

People Walking up the steps to the Entrance of the Field Museum - Chicago, Illinois, USAField Museum

Imagine coming face-to-face with Sue, the world’s most complete, best-preserved T-rex skeleton ever discovered. That scenario is entirely possible at Chicago’s renowned Field Museum, a treasure trove of over 25 million artifacts from across the globe.

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The astounding diversity of exhibits, from ancient hieroglyphics to meteorites, will captivate your curiosity and ignite your imagination. Packed full of fascinating exhibits on topics such as the animal kingdom, filmmaking, and human DNA, this museum is perfect for all ages.

Pro Tip: The Field Museum is immense, with exhibits that could captivate you for hours. To fully appreciate the museum’s breadth and depth, allot ample time in your Chicago itinerary to explore without feeling rushed.

Chicago Sports Museum

Among the top Chicago museums, the Chicago Sports Museum stands out as a must-visit destination. Even if you’re not a fan of the city’s sports teams, you can still appreciate the rich athletic history this city boasts.

Put your skills to test on a Chicago speedway racing simulator and learn about the city’s sports superstitions. Be sure to check out the Bears exhibit featuring memorabilia from the legendary 1985 Super Bowl shuffle team.

And see Michael Jordan’s actual jerseys from all 6 championship seasons with the Bulls. The Chicago Sports Museum celebrates the epic wins that have brought Chicagoans together for decades.

Pro Tip: The Chicago Sports Museum occasionally closes for private events, so double-check operating hours before visiting.

Hand holding a phone with a ghostly figure showing on the screen holding an axeMedieval Torture Museum

Immerse yourself in the bone-chilling history of humanity at the Medieval Torture Museum. Located in the heart of Chicago, this unique museum reveals the dark secrets of medieval period punishments and deterrents.

Drawing from all corners of the world, the spine-tingling exhibition boasts an array of torture instruments from the infamous Spanish Inquisition to the witch trials of Salem. Beyond just showcasing these tools of terror, the museum sheds light on the cruelly innovative punishments that dominated the era.

From guided tours to self-paced exploration, the Medieval Torture Museum offers an intriguingly ominous and educational journey, unrivaled for the fearless at heart. Don’t miss this thrilling opportunity to discover the shocking horrors of the past!

Which of the Best Chicago Museums Will You Visit?

Chicago’s vibrant museum scene caters to every type of curious mind. From exploring space at the Adler Planetarium to appreciating masterpieces at the Art Institute, the diversity and depth of Chicago’s museums is unparalleled.

With this sublime spread of museums across topics, genres, and interests, every visitor is bound to discover their perfect Chicago museum match. So come ready to indulge your curiosity by booking your tickets through Tripster today!

Prepare for a one-of-a-kind museum adventure in one of America’s most dynamic cities!

Tell Us, What Other Best Museum Chicago Did We Miss?

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Written by Archie Villaflores

Over the years, he has won numerous national contests for news and editorial writing, but he has recently discovered that his true passion...

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