Inside the loop on Lake Shore Drive, Chicago's Field Museum is an all-around excellent Museum of Natural History. The museum's exhibition space occupies over 480,000 square feet on the ground, main and upper levels. Meanwhile, it houses various displays of dinosaurs, mummies, meteorites, and ancient Egyptian artifacts. Not to mention, it's simple to get to by car, public transportation, or bike.
Pro Tip: If you visit the museum with kids, you should plan at least four to five hours to explore this iconic Chicago institution properly.
Field Museum History
Chicago's Field Museum's inception dates to 1921 and grew from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition collection. The Exposition had over 65,000 exhibits of natural wonder, many of which found their home at the Field Columbian Museum.
The museum was named after department-store magnate Marshall Field, who donated $1 million to its construction. Since its opening, the collection has grown to over 40 million artifacts and specimens.
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Today the Field Museum's permanent exhibitions and interactive programming attract over two million visitors annually. In addition, the museum houses temporary collections of traveling shows and a renowned array of permanent exhibits and scientific research programs.
With its unique history and over 40 million specimens, it's easy to see why Chicago's Field Museum is one of the world's largest and most visited natural history museums. Here is a list of the museum's legendary attractions:
Field Museum's Top Ten Exhibits
- SUE, the T. rex: At more than 40 feet long and 13 feet tall at the hip, SUE is the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered. SUE dates back about 67 million years.
Photo Alert: Don't forget to snap a selfie with the infamous fearsome fossil SUE.
- Griffin Halls of Evolving Planets: Children can learn about evolution from single-celled organisms to human beings. They can also see a variety of different fossils from the skeletons of Tyrannosaurus rex, Megatherium, a giant sloth, and the Tully Monster.
- Field Museum Maximo: Maximo the Titanosaur is the biggest dinosaur discovered by scientists. It reaches 122 feet wide (All the way across Stanley Field Hall) and stands 28 feet tall. Maximo is known to have lived over 100 million years ago!
- Field Museum Mummies: This exhibit takes visitors to Peru and Egypt and includes 14 ancient mummies, coffins, and mummified animals.
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Photo Alert: Photos are allowed at the museum but keep an eye out for specific objects that cannot be photographed. Show your best pictures by tagging @FieldMuseum on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Grainger Hall of Gems: A visitor fave, this gem of the Field Museum includes a collection of over 600 gemstones and 150 pieces of antique and contemporary jewelry from across the world.
- Underground Adventure: This unique experience shrinks a person to 1/100th of their actual size to get a bug's eye view of the world. Kids can also explore giant worm tunnels in this unique exhibit.
Fun Fact: Did you know the Field Museum's bathrooms are ranked #1 in the nation? The easily accessible commodes are spacious, with enough stalls and sinks for large families and school groups to get in and out quickly. They also rank high due to their cleanliness and sleek modern design!
- McDonald's Prep Lab: This fossil preparation lab allows visitors to view experts working on new scientific specimens from around the world.
- Ancient Americas: The incredible attraction hosts 13,000 years of human history in the western hemisphere. Kids can experience an 800-year-old pueblo dwelling and learn about different Native American cultures.
- Genghis Khan: This world-famous exhibit highlights the legendary ruler and the fantastic array of riches he acquired during his many conquests.
- Rotating Exhibitions: The Field Museum showcases ongoing traveling exhibitions designed to expand people's minds about our planet and culture. Past themed exhibitions include: Whales, Opening the Vaults: Mummies, and Chocolate. In addition, check the website for special featured collections coming soon.
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Pro Tip: Private behind the scene tours are available on annual Member's Nights. On these special occasions, patrons get a look behind closed doors at construction projects of new exhibits and underground collections of fish and reptiles stored away. In addition, museum researchers and scientists are usually on hand to answer questions and talk about their work at the museum.
Below the museum's public halls lies the Field Museum's private anthropology collection with more than 1.5 million objects, 800 of which are stored in climate temperature-controlled rooms. These secret treasures include Francis Brenton's boats, a Japanese pagoda built for the 1893 World's Fair, masks from the Sulka ceremonial rites in Papua New Guinea, and relics from Mount Vesuvius's famous eruption in 79 AD.
Basic Admission Cost:
- $26.00 Out of State Adults (Basic Admission)
- $34.00 Out of State Adults (3D Movie or one of three ticketed exhibits)
- $40.00 Out of State Adults All-Access Pass (3D Movie plus all three ticketed exhibits)
- $24.00 Illinois Resident (Basic Admission)
- $32.00 Illinois Resident (3D Movie or one of three ticketed exhibits)
- $38.00 Illinois Resident All-Access Pass (3D Movie plus all three ticketed exhibits)
- $18.00 Chicago Resident (Basic Admission)
- $26.00 Chicago Resident (3D Movie or one of three ticketed exhibits)
- $32.00 Chicago Resident All-Access Pass (3D Movie plus all three ticketed exhibits)
Teachers and active military personnel get in free.
Pro Tip: Check the website for free admission days.
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- The museum is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Last entry at 5:00 p.m.)
Museum Campus has plenty of parking options for visitors.
Soldier Field North Garage: $25 for up to four hours and $30 for 12 hours. The North Garage (accessible via the main entrance on Museum Campus Drive) is open from 5:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. every day.
East Museum Lot: This lot costs $30 for up to 12 hours. The East Museum Lot (located on the east side of the Field Museum) is open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. daily and is accessible via the main entrance on Museum Campus Drive.
Wheelchair-accessible parking is available in the East Museum Lot.