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Guide - Attractions - Museums

Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum

1300 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605 312-322-0300

Description: MUSEUM CAMPUS. This eye-catching, twelve-sided building includes two sky theaters, one of which was the first planetarium in the western hemisphere. The theaters depict the night sky and allow visitors an up-close look at distant planets, moons, and galaxies. The complex also features exhibition rooms, a café, and a StarRider theater that offers amazing, interactive, virtual reality shows. In it, visitors use controls in their seats' armrests to participate in a 3-D simulation of space travel. On family-friendly Far Out Fridays, visitors get to see lots of shows, sit in on lectures, view the night sky, play games, and learn how to set up and use a telescope.
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Art Institute of Chicago

111 S Michigan Ave, Grant Park, Chicago, IL 60603 312-443-3600

Description: GRANT PARK. A highlight of any trip to Chicago, this museum is home to one of the best and most diverse art collections in the world. People are drawn first to the vast Impressionist collection, including the world's largest group of Monet paintings. But treasures abound, including the haunting "American Gothic" and Seurat's groundbreaking Pointillist work. The contemporary section has been expanded and now includes pieces by Picasso, Matisse, Dali, Pollock, and Warhol. The temporary shows are also well known and always receive critical acclaim. A recent retrospective focused on the life and works of Van Gogh.
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Chicago Center for Green Technology

445 N Sacramento Blvd, Chicago, IL 60612 312-746-9642

Description: WEST SIDE. Venture out solo, or grab friends and take a self-guided tour of the Chicago Center for Green Technology, recognized as Chicago's top venue for environmental education. The building's design is energy-efficient, attractive, and affordable, and the center aims to inspire sustainable practices throughout the city. While taking in an abundance of useful information, relax and enjoy the beauty of Monarch and Red Admiral butterflies and a variety of blooming plants.
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Chicago Children's Museum

700 E Grand Ave, Navy Pier, Chicago, IL 60611 312-527-1000

Description: STREETERVILLE. Located at the Navy Pier, the Children's Museum hosts more than 500,000 visitors each year. The museum serves children from toddlers to fifth grade as well as their parents and features 15 permanent exhibits. The museum also holds a number of special events throughout the year geared toward educating children and supporting area schools.
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Chicago Cultural Center

78 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602 312-744-6630

Description: THE LOOP. This stunning neo-classical building boasts glass domes and mosaic walls and was once the main branch of the Chicago Public Library. Today, it serves as a multimedia art complex, offering such things as daytime and evening concerts (often free of charge). The Museum of Broadcast Communications and a lovely shop selling arts and crafts reside here, and the gallery displays rotating art exhibits. Dance, theater, music, and symphony performances are also hosted. Call the Department of Sponsored Events for current schedules.
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Chicago History Museum

1601 N Clark St, Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL 60614 312-642-4600

Description: GOLD COAST. The Chicago History Museum is dedicated to collecting information about, and preserving the heritage of, the city's past. It also focuses on select areas of American history and features permanent and rotating exhibits of art, historical objects, and artifacts. Visit and discover answers to questions like, "Why is Chicago dubbed 'the Windy City?'" and "How was Chicago involved in the Civil War?" The Society holds about 20 million historical documents and artifacts. Free admission on Mondays.
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Field Museum of Natural History

1400 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605 312-922-9410

Description: MUSEUM CAMPUS. The exterior of this hulking marble facility only hints at the historic treasures inside. The architect's goal was boldness, and he achieved it with massive columns and striking galleries filled with natural light. Visitors are immediately greeted by two massive elephants and Sue, the museum's famous Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton (she was acquired for $8.4 million)! Keep going and you'll delve into paleontology, geology, botany, anthropology, and much more. With nine acres of space to set up, curators can change displays regularly ­ they have more than 20 million items to choose from!
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Glessner House

1800 S Prairie Ave, Chicago, IL 60616 312-326-1480

Description: PRAIRIE AVENUE HISTORIC DISTRICT. The Glessner House was built in 1887 and is the home of Henry Hobson Richardson Glessner, an architect whose work inspired Frank Lloyd Wright. The house has been painstakingly restored and preserved and includes an outstanding collection of 19th and 20th century furniture and decorative art. This home holds a vast assortment of pieces from the Aesthetic and English Arts and Crafts movements. The collection includes ceramic vases and tiles, silver, engravings, and Art Nouveau glass.
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International Museum of Surgical Science

1524 N Lakeshore Dr, Chicago, IL 60610 312-642-6502

Description: GOLD COAST. One of Chicago's most interesting and least famous museums, the International Museum of Surgical Science is a true gem. Chock-full of photos and artifacts from surgery's often gruesome development through the centuries, the museum is definitely not for those with a weak stomach. Check out a trepanned skull from Peru, early surgical implements, and even a re-creation of a turn-of-the-century dentist's office. The museum is housed in a four-floor Gold Coast house from 1917.
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Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art

756 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 312-243-9088

Description: WEST SIDE. Located in the River West area, this museum is dedicated to showcasing artistic work known as "outsider art," or art created by artists that are unknown, unconventional, and without formal artistic training. The museum is developing more and more interest and now includes over 600 members. Its exhibits and educational programs make visitors aware of the large amount of activity in the area of outsider art in Chicago and around the nation. The museum has presented many exhibits, lectures, discussions, film screenings, and performances related to this fascinating art area.
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Jane Addams Hull-House Museum

800 S Halsted St, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60607 312-413-5353

Description: LITTLE ITALY. A quest for social reform and belief in equal opportunities for all community members were driving forces behind Jane Addams' establishment in 1889 of a settlement house in one of Chicago's immigrant neighborhoods. Now owned by the surrounding university, the restored structure houses a museum that honors Addams, her work in Chicago, and her influence on civil rights and women's suffrage. Documents, furniture, and plenty of photographs tell the story of this remarkable woman.
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Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611 312-280-2660

Description: STREETERVILLE. When this museum opened in its new aluminum-lined facility in 1996, it became the country's largest museum of contemporary art. Featured works go far beyond two dimensions and include such diverse media as sculpture, photography, dance, performance, and music. Three large exhibition floors showcase more than 7000 objects, including pieces by Sol LeWitt, Alexander Calder, Jeff Koons, and Rene Magritte. Don't miss the sculpture garden, which covers more than an acre. If you're there in the summer, check out the summer solstice celebration that includes a number of unique, art-related events.
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Museum of Contemporary Photography

600 S Michigan Ave, Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, IL 60605 312-663-5554

Description: DOWNTOWN. Located at Columbia College, this museum is dedicated to all this photographic. The collection includes over 6000 photographs and photographically related objects. The aspect of photos as communication tools is highlighted throughout the displays. The permanent collection mainly focuses on American photography post-WW II. The Midwest Photographers Project is one particular permanent exhibit that is very informative and well put together.
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National Museum of Mexican Art

1852 W 19th St, Chicago, IL 60608 312-738-1503

Description: WEST SIDE. This accredited museum in the Pilsen area is dedicated to preserving and facilitating knowledge about Latino life and history. Exhibits focus on Mexican culture as it's represented in the US and in Mexico, and the permanent collection includes folk art, ephemera, sculpture, textiles, and drawings. Performing arts are also featured, and the center hosts special events throughout the year to advance the museum's objectives.
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National Veterans Art Museum

4041 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60641 312-326-0270

Description: IRVING PARK. Established in the late '70's, this museum showcases art by Vietnam War veterans. Lacking a political agenda, the facility features works by American, Viet Cong, and North Vietnamese soldiers. The collection features more than 1000 works by more than 130 artists, including nurses, infantry soldiers, prisoners of war, navy seamen, and air crew members. Among the holdings are paintings, drawings, photographs, sculpture, poetry, prose, and artifacts.
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Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

2430 N Cannon Dr, Chicago Academy of Sciences, Chicago, IL 60614 773-755-5100

Description: LINCOLN PARK. Featuring such permanent exhibits as the breathtaking Butterfly Haven and the C. Paul Johnson Family Water Lab, this family-friendly nature museum is a pleasant surprise in the heart of the Windy City. Among the displays is Ameritech Environmental Central, an interactive exhibit that challenges patrons to grapple with such environmental crises as droughts and floods. After enjoying the exhibits, stop by the gift shop and pick up one of the museum's signature butterfly t-shirts or sweatshirts.
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Spertus Institute

610 S Michigan Ave, across from Grant Park, Chicago, IL 60605 312-322-1700

Description: PRINTERS ROW. Educate yourself about Jewish heritage at Spertus, which offers a glimpse into the culture of the Jewish people. It chronicles more than 5,000 years of history and includes objects like textiles, coins, sculpture, and paintings. A 400-seat theater, gift shop, kosher cafe, and library are also part of the facilities. The institute is easily accessible by public transportation (Red Line to Harrison) and discount parking is available in nearby lots with validation.
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Swedish American Museum

5211 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640 773-728-8111

Description: UPTOWN. This Andersonville museum tells the story of Swedish migration to America and the history and culture of the Swedish people. The museum hosts a number of lectures, concerts, and classes throughout the year ­ how about a Swedish folk dancing class? Permanent exhibits include art and artifacts relating to the Swedes, and temporary exhibits change quarterly. The gift shop sells a number of interesting items relating to Swedish art and culture, including books, glassware, toys, and figurines.
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The Smart Museum of Art

5550 S Greenwood Ave, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637 773-702-0200

Description: HYDE PARK. Located on the campus of the University of Chicago, this museum houses a permanent collection of more than 12,500 paintings and sculptures from both Western and Eastern civilizations, ranging from ancient days to present. Come explore the vast collection of ancient Greek vases, paintings by the masters, Tiffany glass, and artwork by Diego Rivera. The Elden Sculpture Garden is also part of the Smart Museum.
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Ukrainian National Museum

2249 W Superior St, Chicago, IL 60612 312-421-8020

Description: WEST SIDE. Intent on preserving the culture and heritage of the Ukrainian people, this museum proudly displays over 1140 items, including artifacts, folk art, agricultural tools, musical instruments, trophies, and more. The museum also houses a library with over 16,320 titles.
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