Chicago is an incredible destination for museums whether you're looking to explore fascinating history or see impressive works of historical and contemporary art. The local history museums cover a variety of topics, with some focusing on the Chicago area and others featuring remnants from ancient cultures of the Far East. The local art museums are filled with all sorts of works on various mediums and are sometimes organised by time period and sometimes categorised by culture. Visit the best museums & galleries in Chicago.

    1

    Chicago History Museum

    Discover the history of Chicago

    The Chicago History Museum contains numerous collections highlighting the history of both the city and America as a whole with fascinating permanent and temporary exhibitions. The Crossroads of America exhibit focuses on Chicago's growth, while the Facing Freedom display offers insight into fights against oppression. The temporary exhibitions throughout the years have been fascinating, featuring such displays as a collection of Chicago art along with the history of LGBTQ people in Chicago. You'll find it all in the southwestern corner of Lincoln Park.

    Location: 1601 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614, USA

    Open:  

    Phone: +1 312-642-4600

    Map

    photo by Alanscottwalker (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    2

    Museum of Contemporary Photography

    Explore some of photography's best

    The Museum of Contemporary Photography is home to a permanent collection of incredible photography pieces by more than 1,500 artists and includes works from the Midwest Photographers Project. All in all, the collection contains more than 15,000 pieces, including photos and photographic objects like digital pieces and gelatin-silver prints. In their collection, you'll find photos captured by some of the best artists in the medium. These include legends like Ansel Adams, Harry Callaham, Julia Margaret Cameron, and Dorothea Lange. See it all for yourself just a few steps west from Buckingham Fountain.

    Location: 600 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605, USA

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +1 312-663-5554

    Map
    3

    Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

    Discover alluring modern art

    The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is a comprehensive art museum that presents its exhibitions gallery-style using a mix of its own collection and loaned pieces. Amongst the collection, you'll find a wide variety of works created after World War II, including pieces by Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and Kara Walker. Numerous art styles are on display here, allowing you to see late surrealism and minimalism alongside postmodernism. The art takes on many forms, from paintings and sculptures to more uncommon mediums like installations and videos. You'll find it all just west of Lake Shore Park.

    Location: 220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, USA

    Open:  

    Phone: +1 312-280-2660

    Map
    4

    DuSable Museum of African American History

    Celebrate black culture and history

    The DuSable Museum of African American History is home to a comprehensive collection of history, art, and culture from African-Americans and holds 13,000 unique artefacts. You'll find several books, photos, and memorabilia alongside stunning works of art dating back to the US slavery era. This museum also features a 466-seat auditorium that frequently hosts events like poetry readings, film screenings, and music performances primarily focusing on jazz and blues. You can see it all for yourself on the east side of Washington Park next to Stagg Field.

    Location: 740 E 56th Pl, Chicago, IL 60637, USA

    Open: Wednesday from 10 am to 5 pm (closed Thursday–Tuesday)

    Phone: +1 773-947-0600

    Map

    photo by TonyTheTiger (CC BY-SA 2.5) modified

    5

    Oriental Institute Museum

    See archaeological wonders

    The Oriental Institute Museum is home to numerous archaeological artefacts collected from digs in Asia and Africa, with some dating back well into the Bronze Age. Amongst the collection, you'll find remnants from Egypt, Israel, Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq, including several pieces from Persepolis, the old capital of the Achaemenid Empire. This museum is one of the top contributors to Near Eastern studies specifically focusing on the origins of human civilisation. You won't find a better source for fascinating history anywhere else in the city. Explore it for yourself by the University of Chicago, just north of Midway Plaisance Park.

    Location: 1155 E 58th St, Chicago, IL 60637, USA

    Open: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm (closed Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday)

    Phone: +1 773-702-9514

    Map

    photo by Sailko (CC BY 3.0) modified

    6

    Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

    Discover Chicago's natural history

    The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum houses a wide array of exhibits focusing on the natural history of the Chicago region, including living botanic recreations. Local plants can be found all around the building, but the most popular feature is the Butterfly Haven, which houses more than 200 species. Other attractions at this museum include the Water Lab and the Wilderness Walk, which showcase the natural world in the region based around streams and natural woods. See it all for yourself in Lincoln Park, in between North Pond and Diversey Harbour.

    Location: 2430 N Cannon Dr, Chicago, IL 60614, USA

    Open:  

    Phone: +1 773-755-5100

    Map

    photo by Alanscottwalker (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    7

    Smart Museum of Art

    Visit a free art museum

    • Families
    • Budget

    The Smart Museum of Art is a massive gallery containing a variety of modern and international works, and it's free for the public to visit. Within the collection, you'll find more than 15,000 pieces in total, and a fair amount of that collection is on display at any given time. Amongst the works at this museum, you'll find 4 primary categories: modern art, contemporary art, Asian art, and European art. Some famous artists are represented in the collection, including Cecco Bravo, John Chamberlain, Andy Warhol, and Joan Mitchell. You'll find it all on the northern end of the University of Chicago campus next to Stagg Field.

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    Location: 5550 S Greenwood Ave, Chicago, IL 60637, USA

    Open:  

    Phone: +1 773-702-0200

    Map

    photo by Michael Barera (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    8

    National Museum of Mexican Art

    Visit the nation's largest Latino cultural institution

    The National Museum of Mexican Art showcases a variety of Mexican, Latino, and Chicano art and culture in an effort to present Latino culture without borders. You'll find numerous rotating temporary exhibits, but the most prominent permanent exhibit is the Mexicanidad: Our Past is Present, which explores Mexican history in 5 stages. If you visit during October, you can see the Dia de los Muertos exhibit that shows off this popular cultural celebration along with themed artworks by Chicago-area and international artists. You can see it all on the southern edge of Harrison Park.

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    Location: 1852 W 19th St, Chicago, IL 60608, USA

    Open:  

    Phone: +1 312-738-1503

    Map

    photo by Adam Jones (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    9

    Chicago Architecture Centre

    Discover why design matters

    The Chicago Architecture Centre offers valuable insight into architectural accomplishments with a scale model of Chicago and city tours of some of the most prominent designs. The scale model of Chicago depicts the central area of the city, and it was 3D printed for permanent display. When you're looking to take a tour of the top designs in the city, you'll find yourself with 85 different tour options. Many of the tours will take you to see iconic structures like the Chicago Board of Trade and the Monadnock Building. Check it out on the south side of DuSable Bridge by the river.

    Location: 111 E Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60601, USA

    Open: Saturday–Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm (closed Monday–Friday)

    Phone: +1 312-922-8687

    Map
    10

    Driehaus Museum

    Explore the glory of the Gilded Age

    The Driehaus Museum is a historic house that has been outfitted with collections from the art nouveau era and decor that makes you feel like you're in the Gilded Age. Inside, you'll find high-end marble, carved wood, stained glass, and onyx materials that evoke an undeniable opulence. Much of the interior work was done by Louis Comfort Tiffany, and it's one of the largest collections of his work anywhere. You'll even find Favrile glassworks here. See it all for yourself on the Magnificent Mile, just south of the St. James Cathedral.

    Location: 40 E Erie St, Chicago, IL 60611, USA

    Open:  

    Phone: +1 312-482-8933

    Map

    photo by Lmh9y6 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

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