The Best Museums to Visit in Chicago

Welcome to the Windy City, where there’s no shortage of cultural experiences. If you’re looking to learn about art, history, or science, the museums in Chicago are a must-visit. From famous works of art to historical artifacts and interactive exhibits, there’s something for everyone. In this article, we’ll take a look at the best museums to visit in Chicago, so you can plan your trip accordingly and make the most of your time in this amazing city.

The Art Institute of Chicago: A Must-Visit Museum

If you’re looking for a world-class art museum, look no further than the Art Institute of Chicago. Located in the heart of downtown, this historic museum houses an impressive collection of art from around the world, spanning from ancient times to contemporary art. From Van Gogh’s iconic “The Bedroom” to the famous “American Gothic” painting by Grant Wood, the Art Institute has something for everyone.

One of the highlights of the museum is the recently renovated and expanded galleries showcasing the Art Institute’s world-renowned collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. Here, you can see works by Monet, Renoir, Degas, Seurat, and many others. The collection is the largest of its kind outside of Paris, making it a must-see for any art lover.

The Art Institute is also known for its extensive collection of American Art, including works by Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Grant Wood. The museum’s collection of contemporary art is also impressive, with works by Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, and other modern artists.

Aside from its impressive art collection, the Art Institute is also known for its stunning architecture. The museum’s Beaux-Arts building was designed by the famous Chicago architect Daniel Burnham and completed in 1893. The museum expanded in 2009 with the addition of the Modern Wing, which was designed by Renzo Piano.

No visit to Chicago would be complete without a trip to the Art Institute. With its extensive collection of art, stunning architecture, and central location, it is undoubtedly one of the best museums in Chicago.

The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the most renowned museums in the United States, boasting an impressive collection of art that spans across centuries and cultures. Founded in 1879 as both a museum and school for the fine arts, the Art Institute of Chicago has become a destination for art enthusiasts and casual visitors alike.


Throughout the Art Institute’s history, a number of influential collectors and donors have contributed to the museum’s collection, which now comprises more than 300,000 works of art. These include masterpieces from around the world, from ancient artifacts to contemporary pieces.

One of the most notable collections housed within the Art Institute is the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist wing, which boasts works by famous artists such as Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Another highlight is the American Art collection, which features works by Edward Hopper, Grant Wood, and Georgia O’Keeffe.


In addition to its permanent collection, the Art Institute of Chicago regularly hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions. Past exhibitions have included retrospectives of famous artists, such as Picasso and Matisse, as well as group exhibitions exploring themes such as Surrealism or the Harlem Renaissance. The museum also features exhibitions highlighting contemporary art and design from around the world.

Some upcoming exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago include “Bisa Butler: Portraits” and “Monet and Chicago,” both of which promise to be popular among visitors.

Tips for visitors

As one of the most popular museums in the city, the Art Institute of Chicago can get crowded, especially during peak tourist season. To make the most of your visit, consider purchasing tickets in advance online to avoid long lines.

When visiting the museum, it’s also important to choose a time when it’s less crowded. Typically, weekdays and mornings tend to be quieter than weekends and afternoons. Additionally, downloading the museum’s app or taking a guided tour can help you navigate the museum and learn more about the works on display.

Overall, the Art Institute of Chicago is a must-visit for anyone with an interest in art and culture. With its impressive collection and diverse exhibitions, the museum offers something for everyone, whether you’re a seasoned art historian or simply looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon.

The Field Museum

The Field Museum is a natural history museum that was founded in 1893 and is located in Chicago’s Grant Park. It is considered one of the largest and most impressive museums in the world, with a collection of over 24 million artifacts and specimens.


The museum was founded as the Columbian Museum of Chicago after the World’s Columbian Exhibition in 1893, and its original purpose was to house the biological and anthropological collections that were showcased at the fair. The museum is now named after its first major benefactor, Marshall Field. Its collection includes everything from dinosaur skeletons to cultural artifacts from around the world, with highlights such as Sue, the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found, and the Grainger Hall of Gems.


The Field Museum is constantly updating its exhibitions to provide new and exciting experiences for visitors. Some of the current and upcoming exhibitions include:

  • SUE the T. rex: This exhibition showcases the world’s largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. Visitors can see SUE’s bones up close and learn about the life and times of this fascinating predator.
  • The Secret Lives of Objects: This exhibition explores the hidden stories behind everyday objects, revealing their connections to current events, cultural traditions, and historical figures.
  • Animal Secrets: This permanent exhibition is a favorite among families, with interactive exhibits that allow visitors to see how animals camouflage themselves, communicate, and survive in their natural habitats.
  • Underground Adventure: This immersive exhibit takes visitors on a journey beneath the soil to explore the world of earthworms, insects, and other creatures that live underground.

Tips for visitors

The Field Museum is a popular attraction, and it’s easy to spend a full day exploring all the exhibits. Here are a few tips for making the most of your visit:

  • Arrive early: The museum can get crowded, especially on weekends and during school breaks. To avoid long lines and make the most of your time, plan to arrive early in the day.
  • Wear comfortable shoes: With over 480,000 square feet of exhibition space, you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and dress appropriately for the weather, as some exhibits are located outdoors.
  • Take a guided tour: The museum offers a variety of guided tours, which are a great way to learn more about the collections and exhibits. Some tours are included with the price of admission, while others require an additional fee.
  • Check for special events: The Field Museum hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including lectures, workshops, and family-friendly activities. Check the museum’s website for a calendar of events and plan your visit accordingly.
  • Allow plenty of time: There is so much to see and do at the Field Museum, so make sure you allow plenty of time to explore all the exhibits and collections. If you’re short on time, focus on the exhibits that interest you the most.

Visiting the Field Museum is an unforgettable experience that offers a glimpse into the natural world and the cultures and history of people from around the globe. Whether you’re a history buff or a nature lover, the museum has something for everyone to enjoy.

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, or MCA, was established in 1967 and is one of the largest contemporary art museums in the world. Its permanent collection includes thought-provoking and visually appealing installations, sculptures, and other works of modern art from both established and up-and-coming artists. The museum has played a significant role in nurturing Chicago’s cultural scene.


The MCA has a vast collection that includes more than 2,500 works of art and keeps growing every year. Some of the key pieces are works by renowned artists such as Jeff Koons, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and Cindy Sherman. The MCA is also home to one of the largest collections of contemporary art from Chicago-based artists such as Theaster Gates, Kerry James Marshall, and Ed Paschke. Along with this, the MCA boasts an impressive collection of artworks from around the world.


The MCA has a dynamic exhibition program that draws from its permanent collection as well as from national and international sources. Visitors can expect to see thought-provoking and engaging exhibitions that engage with themes such as gender and identity, technology and the environment, and political and social issues. The MCA also hosts a wide variety of events and programs throughout the year, including artist talks, performances, workshops, and tours.

Tips for visitors

To make the most of your visit to the MCA, here are some tips:

  • Check out the museum’s website in advance to see current and upcoming exhibitions and programs.
  • Consider attending one of the museum’s many events, such as artist talks or performances, which can enhance your experience.
  • Take advantage of educational resources such as tours and workshops.
  • Get to the museum early to avoid the crowds and have a more relaxed experience.
  • Consider exploring the surrounding neighborhood of Streeterville, which has many other cultural attractions, including Navy Pier.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is a must-visit institution for lovers of contemporary art and culture. With its diverse and thought-provoking exhibitions, collections, and programs, there’s always something new and exciting to explore at this world-class museum.

The DuSable Museum of African American History

The DuSable Museum of African American History is located in the Washington Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. Established in 1961, it is the oldest museum in the United States dedicated to the study and preservation of African American history and culture. The museum is named after Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, a Haitian-born fur trader who is considered to be the founder of Chicago.


The DuSable Museum houses a vast collection of artifacts, documents, and artwork that tell the story of African American history, from its roots in Africa to the present day. The museum’s permanent collection includes over 15,000 items, including textiles, photography, and sculpture. Some of the key pieces in the collection include a quilt created by Harriet Powers in the late 19th century and a painting by renowned artist Henry Ossawa Tanner.


The museum hosts a variety of exhibitions throughout the year. Current and upcoming exhibitions include “Freedom, Resistance, and the Journey Toward Equality,” which explores the African American experience from the 17th century through present day, and “South Side Stories: The Art and Influence of Dr. Margaret Burroughs,” which highlights the life and work of the museum’s founder. Additionally, the museum offers virtual exhibitions that can be viewed online.

Tips for visitors

When visiting the DuSable Museum, visitors should be sure to explore the outdoor sculpture garden, which features works by African American artists. The museum also hosts several cultural festivals throughout the year, such as the African Festival of the Arts and the DuSable Heritage Association’s Annual Arts and Crafts Festival. Finally, visitors should be aware that the museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and admission fees may vary based on the exhibition or event.

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