13 Best Museums in Chicago

From art and history to science and nature, these museums in Chicago offer an educational experience.

Lion statue in front of the Art Institute of Chicago
Photo: Andria Patino/Getty Images

There's no shortage of world-class museums in Chicago. Whether you're looking to explore art, history, science, or nature, the city has a museum — or several — for you. Head to the Art Institute of Chicago to see one of the largest collections of impressionism outside of the Louvre. Visit the Field Museum to indulge your love of dinosaurs. Check out the Museum of Science and Industry to experience a submarine, coal mine, and restored 727. Or, dive deep into African American, Mexican American, and Ukrainian culture at museums dedicated to each of these communities.

Here are 13 Chicago museums for your next trip to the Windy City.

Art Institute of Chicago

Grand Staircase at the Art Institute of Chicago
Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago

This can't-miss art museum in downtown Chicago is home to more than 300,000 works and the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art outside of the Louvre. The Art Institute traces its history to 1879 and is where you'll find Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks," Pablo Picasso's "The Old Guitarist," Vincent van Gogh's "The Bedroom," and Grant Wood's "American Gothic." A modern art wing houses pieces from Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and Jackson Pollock. Don't miss the museum garden and check the calendar for special events.

Chicago History Museum

Person biking past the exterior of the Chicago History Museum
Courtesy of Chicago History Museum

This is a local history museum that rose from the ashes — literally. It's the museum of the Chicago Historical Society, whose original collection was destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. The museum chronicles the development of Chicago and the city's influence on American history. It's home to the first passenger car to run on Chicago's iconic L train.

Museum of Science and Industry

Exterior of the Museum of Science and Industry
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

You could easily spend a full day at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. One of the largest science museums in the Western Hemisphere, it's a place where you can learn about tech, medicine, and engineering. Ride an elevator into a coal mine, explore a restored United 727 or a U-505 submarine, or take a seat on the Pioneer Zephyr, one of the first diesel-electric passenger trains in the U.S.

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

Exhibition at the Illinois Holocaust Museum
Kathleen Hinkel/Courtesy of Illinois Holocaust Museum

This museum just outside the city limits in Skokie chronicles a difficult topic in a sensitive and engaging way. An augmented reality exhibit allows visitors to step inside a concentration camp, providing an idea of the difficult living conditions endured by the Jewish people who were held against their will. Through another exhibit, visitors can hear from a survivor of Auschwitz depicted via a hologram. The museum also has several exhibits tailored toward children and is a popular place for school field trips.

Field Museum

Lobby exhibition space at the Field Museum
Lucy Hewett/Courtesy of the Field Museum

The Field Museum, not far from Chicago's iconic Soldier Field football stadium, is one of the world's best-known museums for natural art. Its collection includes more than 24 million objects and covers more than four billion years of history. This is where you'll find Sue, the most complete T. rex in the world. Visitors can also step inside an ancient Egyptian burial chamber that's home to nearly two dozen mummies.

DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center

Exhibition at the DuSable Black History Museum
Abel Arciniega/Courtesy of Choose Chicago

This museum is one of the country's oldest institutions dedicated to the preservation and study of African American art, history, and culture. It chronicles the culture and experiences of African Americans through more than 15,000 items and is named after Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, the son of a French man and enslaved Haitian woman and the first non-Indigenous settler of what's now Chicago.

National Museum of Mexican Art

Exhibition at the National Museum of Mexican Art
Michael Tropea/Courtesy of National Museum of Mexican Art

This museum in Chicago's trendy Pilsen neighborhood is designed to tell the story of the Mexican community from its own voice and point of view. It opened in 1982, a time when Mexican art and culture was being overlooked by many organizations. The National Museum of Mexican Art was the first Latino museum to gain accreditation in the U.S. and has since moved into a 48,000-square-foot space in Pilsen, home to a community of Mexican Americans.

Museum of Contemporary Art

Staircase in the Museum of Contemporary Art
Franz-Marc Frei/Getty Images

This museum, which opened in 1967, is one of the world's leading institutions for contemporary visual art. Its post-World War II collection is arranged into several galleries covering minimalism, surrealism, pop art, and more. The museum hosted Frida Kahlo's first U.S. exhibition and Jeff Koons' first solo museum exhibition. Its collection of more than 2,000 items includes pieces by Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol. Don't miss its gorgeous staircase or epic Lake Michigan views.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Two butterflies at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Courtesy of Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

If you love butterflies, move this museum to the top of your list. Tracing its history to 1857, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is dedicated to exploring the Chicago region's natural history, but is best known for its butterflies. It's home to a butterfly house with more than 200 species. It also offers more than 100 education programs.

Frederick C. Robie House

South Balcony Doors at the Frederick C. Robie House
James Caulfield/Courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, Chicago

This Frank Lloyd Wright house is considered one of the most significant architectural structures of the 20th century. Built between 1909 and 1910 as a single-family home, the Robie house is now owned by the University of Chicago. It's one of the best examples of Frank Lloyd Wright's signature Prairie School style, an architectural approach meant to help homes blend in with the prairies of the Midwest.

Chicago Sports Museum

Person at basketball exhibit at the Chicago Sports Museum
Courtesy of Chicago Sports Museum

Sports fans, this is the Chicago museum you can't miss. The 23,000-square-foot space combines sports memorabilia, skill tests, and simulations. Try your hand at scoring goals like a Chicago Blackhawk or shooting free throws like a Chicago Bull. Baseball more your speed? Dive into the Chicago Cubs' 2016 World Series win.

Driehaus Museum

Drawing Room at the Driehaus Museum
Steve Hall of Hedrich Blessing/Courtesy of Driehaus Museum

This downtown Chicago museum offers a glimpse into the art, architecture, and design of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its collection is housed in a gorgeous Gilded Age mansion near Michigan Avenue. The mansion was restored in the early 2000s, and its collection includes a Chickering & Sons piano, an 18-light Tiffany Lily table lamp, and an inkstand commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria.

Ukrainian National Museum

Artist Anna Chychula displays a collection of her Ukrainian pysanky eggs during a workshop at the Ukrainian National Museum
Chicago Tribune/Getty Images

This museum is home to one of the most important collections of Ukrainian arts and crafts in the U.S., including traditional clothing, textiles, ceramics, wood carvings, and more. The museum is located in Ukrainian Village, a residential neighborhood known for its Ukrainian restaurants, cafes, and cocktail bars. Chicago is home to one of the largest Ukrainian communities in the U.S.

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