If you have planned a trip to Chicago, you probably have a lot of things on your list that you want to do while you are in this city. The museums in Chicago are excellent, and you should save some time to check out a variety of museums during your stay. You will have the choice of so many kinds of museums, like contemporary art museums as well as natural history museums and much more. You can even find some free museum options if you are worried about the cost of your trip.
The first thing that you need to do before you head out to see museums or art institute locations is to make sure that your bags are safe and secure. You will want to entrust your bags to a Bounce luggage storage in Chicago before you start having fun on your trip. Having the peace of mind that your luggage will not be lost or stolen can make your whole trip so much more enjoyable. You will be so glad that you have taken the time to place your bags in storage when you see how much easier your trip will be with your hands free.
If you have stored your bags, you are ready to head out to enjoy the best museums in Chicago!
The Best Museums in Chicago
There are so many amazing museums in Chicago that you might want to spend a big part of your trip enjoying the best museums in the city. You can easily make your whole trip all about learning and enjoying culture. Some of the locations even offer free access on certain days and some of the most exciting national museum locations in the US can be accessed for free if you plan correctly.
The Field Museum
This is one of the most famous museums in Chicago. You will find more than 20 permanent collection options to explore here. This museum was created in the late 1800s to house the biological and anthropological collections that were assembled for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. This is a very special museum that you can spend more than one day in easily. You will be treated to ancient and new exhibits and the natural history portion of this museum is second-to-none. Sue the t-rex lives here and you should also make time to see the Evolving Planet exhibit when you visit.
This is one of the best locations for natural history and contemporary art and you will be amazed at the permanent collection options that you can see here. There are few places that offer so many really special permanent collection exhibits to view all under one roof.
Art Institute of Chicago
This is an iconic building in Chicago, and this is one of the must-see art institute locations in the city. There are 300,000 pieces of art in the Art Institute of Chicago, and all of them are special in some way. Even the bronze lions outside are considered to be iconic, and you will want to make sure to check them out before you head in. Andy Warhol pieces are housed here at the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as Van Gogh. This is a very special contemporary art museum that also offers you access to classical artists all under the same roof.
Museum of Science and Industry
This collection was gathered in one place after the 1893 World's Fair. This is the right place to head to see a World War II submarine, witness a 40-foot tornado, and transfer your heartbeat to a huge 3-D beating heart. If you or someone in your family or travel group love science, this will be a great place to spend at least part of one day. The Museum of Science and Industry is definitely one of the best things to do with kids in Chicago, especially due to the many interactive exhibits.
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
This natural history collection is housed in Lincoln Park. If you want to see midwestern birds, prehistoric and ice age animals, and other unique things, you will want to head here. The guided tours of the natural history collections are excellent, and even kids can have a lot of fun while touring the area. The outdoor nature hike is a long-term favorite with kids, and you should plan on this attraction when you visit if you are traveling with younger people. While you're at Lincoln Park, why not stop by the zoo as well? There's no charge for entry, which makes it one of the best free things to do in Chicago.
Chicago Design Museum
The Chicago Design Museum is a free museum that deserves to be on your list of things to do when you are in the city. You will love the paper arts, games in our culture, and Great Ideas of Humanity exhibits here. This is a great place to visit with kids, and you will love tacking this stop onto another of your museum stops, or you can add it to a trip for another purpose in the downtown area. You won't need more than an hour to see it all.
American Writers Museum
This is a very innovative and unique museum location that offers access to interactive exhibits that change throughout the year. You will find that some of the exhibits focus on programming as well as traditional writing works. The creative process and many other topics are discussed here, and you will love adding this small location to your schedule of interactive and informative museum visits during your stay.
Museum of Contemporary Photography
While not as big as many of the other major locations in the city, like the Chicago History Museum, this is a place where you can spend a few hours and learn all about photography while seeing some amazing exhibits. The focus here is on photographic art in a specific style, but there are also smaller sections within the museum that are dedicated to photographic arts in older styles. This is a great place to see a permanent collection of contemporary art in the photographic category. Best of all, this location is free to enter, which makes it one of the best Chicago museums to visit if you are on a budget.
Smart Museum of Art
One of the other free art museums in the city, the Smart Museum, is a great place to head near Hyde Park. You will get to enjoy access to more than 15,000 artworks of varying kinds. There are pieces here from Europe, Asia, and contemporary art from the US as well. This is also the location to see the H.C. Westerman Study Collection, which is an amazing public collection of archival material related to the artist's life and work. The Smart Museum is also located on the University of Chicago campus, which is another fun place to visit.
Chicago History Museum
This location was formerly known as the Chicago Historical Society, and it is a great place to head to see a collection that is dedicated specifically to the history of Chicago. The Chicago Historical Society was created in 1856, and they crafted a collection that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. You will love the Crossroads of America exhibit, which is world famous. This part of the exhibition tells you the story of Chicago's development. The Chicago History Museum is one of the most special collections in the city, and you should make sure this is on your list of places to visit.
The Oriental Institute Museum
The Oriental Institute Museum collection was established in 1919. This is an interdisciplinary research center and has a collection of art and artifacts. There are artifacts here that are more than 6,000 years old, and the items on display here range from ceramic vessels to ancient saddles and more. The Megiddo Ivories are the most famous of the items on display, but there are so many things that you will want to see. There are artifacts here from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, and much more. The Oriental Institute Museum is one of the most special collections anywhere in the US, and you should not miss out on seeing it.
What are the best free museums in Chicago?
Many of the Museums in Chicago have set free days that you might want to plan your trip around. The Field Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry, and many of the other museums in the city have various pre-arranged days where you can enter to see these permanent collections for free.
The Museum of Contemporary Photography is always free with a suggested donation of $5 when you visit. You can also head to the Smart Museum of Art for a really nice day at a museum with no cost for access. The National Museum of Mexican Art is also a really good option if you are looking for a very cool collection that is affordable to see.
Chicago is one of the few places that gives you access to special permanent collection locations free of charge, even if you do have to plan around some of these days to be able to make the most of your time in the city. This can be a big help if you are traveling with kids or a large party, as museum access can really add up during your trip.
Which are the best museums in Downtown Chicago?
The Field Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago are two of the best museums in the downtown Chicago area, but you can also consider the Museum of Contemporary Art to be part of this list of must-see locations in downtown Chicago. This is one of the best cities in the US for people who love contemporary art or history of various kinds because so many of the best museums are located right downtown.
The Chicago History Museum is also a good downtown Chicago museum that you really must see, and The Oriental Institute Museum should also be on your list of things to do in the downtown area. You could easily spend most of your trip seeing museums and art locations, and most of them will be close together in the downtown area. You can also enjoy some of the best street food in Chicago if you want to get some authentic Chicago treats in between visits to museums.
Are there any cheap museums in Chicago?
You might not think that there are any cheap museums in Chicago, but you would be wrong! The DuSable Museum of African American History is a great choice if you have $10 or less to spend on a unique museum experience. This collection is specifically dedicated to African and African American history.
You could also head to the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago and get access for less than $10. The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and the Chicago Sports Museum are also very affordable to visit. Ask about any discounts or possible cost reduction options that you might enjoy by buying tickets for more than one location in the city. There are times that even the most expensive museums in Chicago can have sales on entry or special deals that are worth checking on!
If you have headed to Chicago, you might be overwhelmed by how many Chicago museums you want to see. Some of the best museums in the world are located here, and you will love that there are museums dedicated to natural history, Mexican art, modern art, and more. For people who love history and art, few places are as exciting to visit as Chicago. From the DePaul Art Museum to the Chicago River Museum, you will find that there is a museum campus dedicated to almost any topic in this city.
The first thing you should do when you head to Chicago is make sure that you get your luggage into secure storage. With your bags safely stored, you can make the most of your time in Chicago since you won't be dragging luggage around with you!