Chicago is home to some of the greatest museums and cultural institutions in the world. Ready to start exploring? Whatever your interest, there’s a place on this list guaranteed to open your mind and engage your senses.
The Big 10
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, 312-922-9410
Housing over 40 million artifacts, the museum explores the past, present, and future of our planet.
5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, 773-684-1414
As one of the largest science museums in the world, the Museum of Science and Industry inspires visitors of all ages through a hands-on scientific experience.
1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, 312-939-2438
Home to 32,000 animals, The John G. Shedd Aquarium is a nonprofit organization committed to the conservation, protection, and welfare of animals. The Shedd is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and certified by American Humane.
1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, 312-922-7827
The Adler Planetarium, America’s first planetarium, fosters a better understanding of our universe through space science and exploration.
111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 312-443-3600
The world-renowned fine arts institution houses a permanent collection of 300,000 works, spanning across all mediums and eras.
740 E. 56th Place, Chicago, 773-947-0600
Dedicated to the preservation and study of African and African American history, the museum brings stories to life through the collection of art, history, and culture.
9603 Woods Drive, Skokie, 847-967-4800
Best represented by its founding principle, “Remember the Past, Transform the Future,” the suburban museum is committed to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust through interactive storytelling and exhibits that empower future generations to combat all acts of hatred, prejudice, and indifference.
1601 N. Clark St., Chicago, 312-642-4600
Chicago History Museum connects visitors to the roots of Chicago’s history through educational initiatives, publications, exhibitions, and programming.
220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, 312-280-2660
MCA highlights a provocative side of contemporary art and culture; connecting audiences of all ages with the works and ideas of distinct artists from around the world.
2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, 773-755-5100
Prominently known for its Judy Istock Butterfly Haven, the Chicago institution connects visitors of all ages to nature and science through interactive exhibits and programs.
Architecture & The Arts
111 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago, 312-922-3432
Driven by design, the Chicago Architecture Center, formerly the Chicago Architecture Foundation, is a nonprofit cultural organization offering tours, exhibits, programs, and events that share the story of the city’s intricate architecture and history.
4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, 312-326-0270
The National Veterans Art Museum features over 2,500 works of art created by veterans.
1852 W. 19th St., Chicago, 312-738-1503
Located in Pilsen, the heart of the city’s Mexican community, the free museum is an immersive experience of Mexican art and culture.
40 E. Erie St., Chicago, 312-482-8933
The museum features works of art, architecture, and design from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with a focus on the Gilded Age.
72 E. Randolph, Chicago, IL 60602, 312-894-6263
The nonprofit cultural institution offers free exhibitions around design that foster conversation.
Columbia College Chicago, 600 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 312-663-5554
Founded by Columbia College Chicago, the art museum is solely dedicated to the art of photography and exploring an endless range of ideas and concepts. The MoCP is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
201 E. Ontario St., Chicago, 312-787-3997
For over 100 years, The Arts Club of Chicago has been a celebrated venue for the exhibitions and performances of emerging and renowned artists.
78 E. Washington St., Chicago, 312-744-3316
A city landmark, The Chicago Cultural Center hosts a variety of free events ranging from music, dance, theater, film, tours, lectures, and art exhibitions that cater to all ages.
5020 S. Cornell Ave., Chicago, 773-324-5520
The art center serves as a space for local artists to create and showcase their work.
2150 S. Canalport Ave., #4A-3, Chicago, 312-738-0400
The nonprofit organization celebrates female-identified artists through art exhibitions, professional development, and public programming.
309 Park Ave., Glencoe, 847-835-8500
Specializing in contemporary American painting, sculpture, and works on paper, the gallery showcases over 40 different artists and a variety of media.
1717 Central St., Evanston, 847-475-5300
The art center connects the community to the arts through community-based events and workshops, gallery showings, and discussions.
3831 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 773-373-1026
As the oldest African American art center in the country, the South Side Community Art Center preserves and amplifies the legacy of African American arts and culture; providing arts education and gallery space for emerging and acclaimed artists and scholars.
The University of Chicago, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave., Chicago, 773-702-0200
University of Chicago’s own fine arts museum, housing a collection of over 15,000 objects.
40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, 847-491-4000
Northwestern University’s art museum features a global exhibition program that spans across time periods and cultures.
5811 S. Ellis Ave., Cobb Hall, Floor 4, Chicago, 773-702-8670
The free and public contemporary art museum, located at the University of Chicago, offers artists the creative freedom, space, and resources to develop their wildest ideas and dreams.
180 N. Michigan Ave., Floor 2, Chicago, 312-374-8790
The American Writers Museum is the only museum dedicated solely to American writers and their influence on our history, identity, and culture.
61 W. Superior St., Chicago, 312-787-7070
The Poetry Foundation is an independent literary organization dedicated to celebrating and amplifying the art of poetry.
Chicago Studio: 2010 W. Carroll Ave., Chicago, 312-829-2787
North Shore Studio: 1963 Johns Drive, Glenview, 847-486-0808
The nonprofit serves as a person-centric artistic community that provides artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities the studio and gallery space to grow and create. Arts of Life has a Chicago and North Shore studio as well as featured works exhibited around the city.
Water Tower Place, 835 N. Michigan Ave., Floor 2, Chicago, 312-475-9620
A gallery devoted to sharing the life and work of Dr. Seuss.
756 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, 312-243-9088
Focused on outsider and contemporary self-taught art, Intuit holds a massive collection of permanent and visiting works for visitor viewing.
3816 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, 847-922-5736
The gallery features local artists, centered around the best of 20th century design in the form of fine art, lighting, home decor, and costume jewelry.
1 S. 151 Winfield Road, Wheaton, 630-260-8185
99 Chicago Riverwalk, Chicago, 312-977-0227
The five-story museum celebrates the rich history of the Chicago River and its famous movable bridges. The museum is open May through October, furthering the mission of Friends of the Chicago River.
1200 W. 35th St., Suite 0E-5010, Chicago, 773-376-1982
The museum explores the impact of the region’s waterways on Chicago history.
230 S. LaSalle St., Floor 1, Chicago, 312-322-2400
The free museum examines the history of the United States dollar through interactive exhibits, film, and a daily presentation.
625 N. Kingsbury St., Chicago, 773-245-1621
A one of a kind destination that shares the story of public housing throughout the United States.
104 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 312-374-9333
The nonpartisan museum and library holds a massive collection of military artifacts to honor and increase the public understanding of American military history.
2040 Lehigh Ave., Glenview, 847-657-0000
In conjunction with the Glenview Hangar One Foundation, the museum shares the history of Naval Air Station Glenview through artifacts, initiatives, and community events.
2156 N. Tripp Ave., Chicago, IL 60639
Just outside of Chicago, you’ll find the house built by Flora and Elias Disney, Walt and Roy Disney’s parents. The property is currently under restoration.
Gardens & Conservatories
1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, 847-835-5440
Located in Glencoe, the Chicago Botanic Garden is a green haven for scientists and visitors alike. With 27 gardens and four natural areas onsite, the gardens are open year-round and offer a variety of programs and classes.
2391 N. Stockton Drive, Chicago, 312-742-7736
Held in a Victorian Era glass house, the Lincoln Park Conservatory hosts a tropical plant experience with four distinctive display houses; free to the public all year long.
300 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago, 773-638-1766
Free and open to the public 365 days a year, the Garfield Park Conservatory connects visitors to the world’s diverse plant life through its gardens and greenhouses, exhibits and installations, and educational programming.
1 S. 151 Winfield Road, Wheaton, 630-668-5161
Enjoy 29 acres of lush greenery and blooms, located in historic Cantigny Park.
2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview, 847-832-6600
Inspire young minds through the power of play and hands-on exhibits. Geared for children from birth through age 8.
Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, 312-527-1000
Located in Navy Pier, the museum offers three floors of engaging and interactive exhibits that stimulate young learners.
9301 S. Stony Island Ave., Chicago, 773-721-9301
As the one and only African American children’s museum in the country, the Bronzeville Children’s Museum offers a unique guided tour format through a variety of educational experiences, themes, and exhibits.
301 N. Washington St., Naperville, 630-637-8000
The DuPage Children’s Museum inspires creativity and learning through interactive exhibits for the whole family.
360 N. State St., Chicago, 312-245-8200
The museum is dedicated to presenting the history and development of television and radio through programs, exhibits, and screenings of educational and entertainment content.
Roosevelt Collection, 1146 S. Delano Court West, Chicago
A museum solely dedicated to the history and evolution of pizza; the collection can be viewed virtually as well as at select pop-up dates.
1524 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, 312-642-6502
Through the integration of art and artifacts, the museum is dedicated to sharing the history of surgery.
5218 S. Western Ave., Chicago, 877-225-7491
Housed in Engine 123’s old firehouse, the museum preserves the history of Chicago’s area fire departments and firefighters. The museum is open on the fourth Saturday of the month, excluding Decembers.
2120 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 312-808-1286
Blues musician Willie Dixon founded the Blues Heaven Foundation as a way to continue the legacy of blues. Housed in the famed Chess Records building, the foundation’s home welcomes visitors for guided tours, gallery showings, concerts, and music programming.
1560 Oak Ave., Evanston, 224-714-5600
The Halim family’s robust clock collection turned into a permanent local museum, dedicated to historic timepieces and stained-glass artwork.
3407 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, 773-645-3359
The world’s only pin-back button museum explores the countless ways people use buttons to express themselves. The Button Museum is housed within the Busy Beaver Button Company.
Water Tower Place, Level 7, 835 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 312-202-0500
A sports fanatic’s dream, the Chicago Sports Museum is a conglomeration of virtual experiences and game-winning artifacts and memorabilia.