There are more than 40 museums open to the public in Chicago, plus a number of other sites that organize interesting exhibitions. Just a few are listed here. Discover more by using the resources listed on the Exploring Chicago page, or pick up a copy of Newcity or the Reader. Some museums offer free admission one day per week, and some offer discounts to Chicago residents. Check their Web sites or call to find out details.
The Museum Campus
On the lakefront, three popular Chicago museums are linked by a large park area known as the Museum Campus. Check the Web sites of the individual museums for the days when basic admission is free.
Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum
1300 South Lake Shore Drive
The first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere, Adler has hands-on and historical exhibits as well as sky shows.
Get close to the beluga whales and other sea creatures at the Shedd Aquarium.
1400 South Lake Shore Drive
Student basic admission: $12
This natural history museum holds more than 20 million specimens and cultural objects. Part of its collection comes from the University of Chicago's Walker Museum, which was originally intended to be a great natural history museum. The Walker materials were transferred to the Field Museum in 1953.
John G. Shedd Aquarium
1200 South Lake Shore Drive
Day pass: $24.95; there is a discount for residents of Chicago but not for students.
On the shores of Lake Michigan, the world's largest indoor aquarium houses more than 8,000 aquatic animals representing some 800 species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, birds, and mammals from waters around the world.
Museums in or near Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Student admission: $12; free Thursdays and Fridays 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. during the summer
The museum houses more than 300,000 works of art, including A Sunday Afternoon on La Grand Jatte—1884 by Georges Seurat, American Gothic by Grant Wood, Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, and 33 paintings by Claude Monet. It houses the largest collection of Impressionist paintings outside of Paris. The original core Beaux-Arts building was built for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. The new Modern Wing makes the Art Institute the second largest art museum in the U.S.
Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture
6500 South Pulaski Road
Adult admission: $5
Dedicated to the preservation of Lithuanian art, history, customs, and traditions, Balzekas also has a Children's Museum of Immigrant History.
Chess Records / Willie Dixon's Blues Heaven
2120 South Michigan Avenue
The recording studio where Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon, and Chuck Berry made some of their best music is now a museum. Blues acts perform outside in the summer. Call before you go, since opening hours are limited.
Chicago Children's Museum
700 East Grand Avenue
Located on Navy Pier, the exhibits encourage children to look, touch, and explore.
Chicago History Museum
1601 North Clark Street
Student admission: $12 with audio tour
This museum's galleries hold millions of artifacts reflecting the city's growth from a frontier outpost to a major urban center, including objects owned by Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, Michael Jordan's basketball uniform, Mahalia Jackson's choir robe, and the Studs Terkel/WFMT Oral History Archives.
Chicago Public Library
Harold Washington Library Center
400 South State Street
The flagship location of one of the world's largest libraries, the Washington Library Center offers permanent and temporary exhibits and numerous programs throughout the year.
The University's own Smart Museum of Art exhibits fine arts spanning 5,000 years.
DuSable Museum of African-American History
740 East 56th Place
Student admission: $2
The DuSable Museum is dedicated to the collection, preservation, and interpretation of the history and culture of Africans and Americans of African descent. The museum sponsors a film series, jazz and blues concerts, and film and theater events geared to children.
Ernest Hemingway Birthplace and Museum
339 North Oak Park Avenue (birthplace house)
200 North Oak Park Avenue (museum)
Admission: $7 (for museum and tour)
Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center
801 West Adams Street, 4th floor
A museum dedicated to preserving Hellenic culture and the Greek immigrant experience in America. Also features contemporary work of Greek Americans in the visual, literary, and performing arts.
Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art
756 North Milwaukee Avenue
Since 1945, Chicago artists and collectors have been interested in outsider art created by untrained artists, many of whom were rural African Americans, eccentrics, isolates, compulsive visionaries, or mentally ill.
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
800 South Halsted Avenue
The world-famous social settlement house founded by Jane Addams in 1889.
Kohl Children's Museum
2100 Patriot Blvd
Admission: $7.50 for adults and children
Children ages 1–8 can touch and explore the exhibits and participate in planned daily activities.
Museum of Broadcast Communications
The MBC examines popular culture and contemporary American history through the sights and sounds of television and radio. The museum currently has no exhibition space.
Museum of Contemporary Art
220 East Chicago Avenue
Student admission: $6; free Tuesdays
The MCA exhibits painting, sculpture, photography, video and film, and performance created since 1945. It includes a terraced sculpture garden and has a great view of Lake Michigan.
Museum of Contemporary Photography
600 South Michigan Avenue
The permanent collection focuses on American photography produced since 1959.
Museum of Science and Industry
57th Street and Lake Shore Drive
Basic admission: $11
More than 800 exhibits and 2,000 interactive units include a display exploring the inner workings of the brain, an exhibit of a German U-boat captured during World War II, and a trip down a replica coal mine. There is also an Omnimax movie dome.
Museum of Surgical Science
1524 North Lake Shore Drive
Student admission: $4
With its collection of 7,000 surgery-related objects, manuscripts, and artworks, this museum shows the discoveries and failures that have shaped modern surgery.
National Museum of Mexican Art
1852 West 19th Street
Exhibits on traditional and contemporary Mexican art range in medium from prints and drawings to papier-mâché and from ceramics to historically significant photographs. Every autumn the museum hosts the city's most visited Day of the Dead exhibit.
National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum
1801 South Indiana Avenue
Student admission: $7
Art of men and women who served in Vietnam.
60 West Walton Street
An independent research library, it exhibits parts of its extensive collection of rare books, maps, and manuscripts.
Oriental Institute Museum
The University of Chicago's own. For information, see Hyde Park Attractions.
100 North Central Park Avenue
The only museum of its kind to explore the impact of war and peace through the arts with permanent exhibits, specialized programs, and more.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 North Cannon Drive
Student admission: $5; free Thursdays
Located in Lincoln Park, this is Chicago's first and only museum to specialize in the ecology and natural history of the Midwest from the Great Lakes to the prairies.
The Renaissance Society (Bergman Gallery)
In Cobb Hall. For information, see Hyde Park Attractions.
Smart Museum of Art
The University of Chicago's own. For information, see Hyde Park Attractions.
Spertus Museum (Institute of Jewish Studies)
610 South Michigan Avenue
Student admission: $5
Hours: Currently open alternate Sundays 10:30 a.m.–3 p.m.
Spertus Museum welcomes students from all backgrounds to its galleries, using its collections to introduce basic themes in Jewish religion and culture.
Swedish American Museum Center
5211 North Clark Street
This museum aims to preserve the Midwest's rich Swedish heritage by collecting, interpreting, and displaying materials related to Swedish-American history.
Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art
2320 West Chicago Avenue
Free admission; donations accepted
In the heart of the ethnically diverse Ukrainian Village neighborhood, this museum features special exhibits as well as a permanent collection of work by Chicago artists, sculptors, and painters of Ukrainian descent.