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6 Must-See Museums in Chicago and How to Visit

Explore the cultural side of Chicago by visiting its museums.

Inside one of Chicago's must-see museums in Illinois–the Field Museum of Natural History
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With museums covering subjects from science and natural history to architecture and modern art, Chicago is a playground for culture lovers. It would take months to visit the city’s 60 museums, so here are a few that should be at the top of your list.

1. Field Museum of Natural History

Dinosaurs and elephant displays inside the huge atrium of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
The Field Museum of Natural History's main foyer.Foto: Jim Lambert / Shutterstock

For a journey through time.

Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History is one of the largest of its kind. You’ll journey through four billion years of the Earth’s history and see dinosaurs and ancient Aztec artifacts, and one of the world’s largest collections of gems and diamonds.

2. Art Institute of Chicago

Visitors enjoy an art tour with a docent in a room of the Art Institute of Chicago.
A docent speaks at the Art Institute of Chicago.Foto: WhiteBlush / Shutterstock

For artistic masterpieces.

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the largest art museums in America and home masterpieces by Van Gogh, Renoir, Picasso, and more. The museum has an extensive collection of modern art including Grant Wood’s famous American Gothic.

3. Museum of Science and Industry

Visitors check out the huge displays inside the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
A view of the Museum of Science and Industry.Foto: ImagineerInc / Shutterstock

For an impressive collection.

Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry boasts a collection that encompasses a full-sized World War II German submarine; the first ever diesel-powered railroad train; and a replica of a working coal mine. The museum’s exhibits are diverse; you’ll find displays on everything from weather and electricity to airplanes and space stations, alongside a collection of real human specimens.

4. Chicago History Museum

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The exterior of the Chicago History Museum.Foto: Mary at T-Comms / Shutterstock

For Chicago's past and present.

Many of Chicago’s early historical documents were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, but those that survived can be found in the Chicago History Museum. The museum highlights the city’s past and present and showcases exhibits on Abraham Lincoln, the Chicago Blues, and even the Chicago Hot Dog.

5. Adler Planetarium

People stroll up to the entrance of the Adler Planetarium on a sunny day in Chicago.
The outside of the Adler Planetarium.Foto: elesi / Shutterstock

For a space adventure.

Journey through space and time during an immersive theatre experience in America’s first planetarium. In addition to space adventure shows and and star programs, the Adler also features hands-on astronomy exhibits where you can learn about the first moon landing, black holes, comets, and more.

6. Chicago Architecture Center

A visitor reads a display at Chicago Architecture Center in the heart of the city in Illinois.
An exhibit at the Chicago Architecture Center.Foto: Mauro P / Tripadvisor

For architectural treasures.

Discover the stories of Chicago’s architectural treasures at one of the city’s newest museums, the Chicago Architecture Center. You’ll find models of the city’s most impressive skyscrapers and an interactive films that explains how Chicago was rebuilt after the Great Chicago Fire.

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