The 7 Best Museums to Visit in Chicago
Chicago is home to a diverse assortment of world-class museums. Whether you’re into art, history, literature, or architecture, you’ll find a museum to love in this vibrant city.
Art Institute of Chicago
Image via Flickr by kimberlykv
If you’re thinking about museums in Chicago, the Art Institute likely comes to mind first. This museum is the second-largest art museum in the U.S. It features a wide array of art, with exciting temporary exhibitions and a permanent collection spanning the centuries. No matter if you’re interested in surrealism or impressionism, artifacts like armor, architecture, or anything in between, you’ll discover plenty of inspiration here. Don’t forget to check out Chagall’s America Windows, just one standout treasure of the museum’s extensive collection.
The Art Institute of Chicago is open daily from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm, with longer hours on Thursdays (until 8:00 pm). Tickets cost $25 for adults, but this collection is worth the price of admission. Seniors, students, and teenagers can enter for $19, while entry is free for anyone under 13 years old. Chicago and Illinois residents can take advantage of discounts, and the museum offers free admission for residents of Illinois between 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm on Thursdays.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Inspired by the modern wing at the Art Institute? Explore even more with a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art. The building itself is reason alone for a trip. Inspired by Chicago’s grid system, the structure pays homage to famous architects from the Chicago School and has housed the museum since 1996. Once inside, you can get lost for hours in a collection including Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, and of course, Andy Warhol, to name only a few of the modern art luminaries you’ll find at the MCA.
The museum is open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, and on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission costs $15 for adults and $8 for teachers, seniors, and students. Anyone under 18 can always enter for free, while residents of Illinois can take advantage of free entry on Tuesdays.
American Writers Museum
It’s not just art you’ll find in Chicago’s wide-ranging museum scene. Literary aficionados should put the American Writers Museum squarely on their list of places to visit in the city. The museum opened its doors in 2017 and quickly cemented itself as a must-see Chicago attraction. The museum delves into the history of many important American writers, including Sylvia Plath, Ida B. Wells, and beyond. Check out the punk zines and tables of typewriters at this museum nestled in a second-floor space on Michigan Avenue.
Opening hours for the American Writers Museum are 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Wednesday through Sunday. Admission for adults is $14, while seniors, students, and teachers pay $9. Children under 12 can get in for free.
History buffs are represented well in Chicago, too. The Field Museum offers one of the best (and biggest!) natural history museums you can find anywhere in the world. Three floors and nearly 500,000 square feet of exhibition space offer hours of entertainment. Whether you come for the dinosaurs or the mummies, gems and minerals, meteorites, cultural history, and so much more, this museum will surely top your list of Chicago attractions by the end of a day here.
Open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, the Field Museum offers a variety of inclusive passes if you want to check out ticketed exhibitions and 3D movies along with the main collections. Sometimes this museum offers free days for Illinois residents, and special discounts are available for Chicago residents, military personal, Illinois teachers, and more.
DuSable Museum of African American History
Celebrate African American culture, art, and history at this museum named for Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, the man credited with establishing Chicago back in 1779. Permanent exhibits tell the story of Black Americans from the Transatlantic Slave Trade through the Civil Rights and Black Power movements to today, while also highlighting African Americans in the military.
The DuSable Museum of African American History is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and on Sundays from noon to 5:00 pm. Admission is $14.50 for adults, $11 for seniors and students, $5 for children 6 to 11, and free for children under 5. The museum offers discounted rates for Chicago residents and free admission on Tuesdays.
Chinese-American Museum of Chicago
When you’re out and about in Chicago’s Chinatown, make sure you save some time to visit the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago. The area is one of the oldest Chinatowns in the country, and this museum does a great job contextualizing how Chinese culture has thrived in the Chicago community for over a century. After taking in the permanent exhibition that explores Chinese immigration to the Midwest, check out rotating exhibits on Chinese art, clothing, and more.
The Chinese-American Museum of Chicago is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Admission for adults is $5, while it’s $3 for seniors and students.
Chicago Children’s Museum
If you have some curious kids in tow, you’ll want to plan a visit to the Chicago Children’s Museum. There’s plenty of interactive fun to be had here. Children will enjoy activities such as building a skyscraper, playing in a treehouse, and creating their own works of art. This museum makes the perfect choice for families looking for a unique experience in the city.
Hours at this museum are 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Wednesday and Friday through Sunday, and 10:00 am to 8:00 pm on Thursdays. Kids and adults pay $14.95 for admission, while seniors pay $13.95. Children under 1 enter for free. The museum also offers free admission on Thursdays from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
Before heading out, verify the current museum opening hours on their websites as opening days and times can change. Can’t leave home right now? You can still take advantage of the virtual offerings many museums are sharing with the public.
There you have it! Allied Plumbing & Heating Supply Co. put together this list of seven great museums to check out in Chicago. Did we miss a Windy City institution you love? Let us know and we’ll be sure to add it to our list.