Top 10 Chicago Museums

Most Visited in 2010 as Ranked by Museums in the Park

Chicago's diverse and unique museums are the number one reason tourists visit "The Windy City". Whether you're into art and history or science and wildlife, you'll find an educational and entertaining museum on this list. Each of the top 10 Chicago museums offers an unforgettable and completely unique experience.

1. John G. Shedd Aquarium

Also known as The World's Aquarium, this hot spot is the most visited museum in Chicago, tracking in over 2 million visitors a year. Take a visit to this underwater world and you'll know why. The Shed Aquarium has more than 32,500 animals representing 1,500 different species and features 8 magical exhibits. Experience the award-winning Caribbean Reef, a 360-degree tour that brings you eye-to-eye with sharks, sea turtles, and other exotic reef creatures, and explore the world in 80 habitats in Waters of the World. The 4-D Special FX Theater Experience combines sensory effects (from vibrating seats to bubbles and snow) with high-quality 3-D features.

2. The Art Institute of Chicago

This world-renowned art museum is a must-see for any visit to Chicago. The second largest museum in the nation, The Art Institute is home to some of the highest-quality art in the world. Discover over a dozen collections of art ranging from modern photography to medieval armor and several vibrant (continually changing) exhibitions. Don't leave before stopping in the Thorne Miniature Rooms, 68 European rooms recreated on a one-inch-to-one-foot scale!

3. Museum of Science and Industry

Inspired by the mission to motivate achievement in science, technology, engineering, and medicine, Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry is one of the largest science museums in the world. In a permanent exhibit called YOU! The Experience, explore how your body, choices, personality, and environment connect to create you in the 21st century. With almost 14 acres of hands-on exhibits and over 35,000 artifacts, the museum brings out the inner-scientist in visitors of all ages

4. The Field Museum

Travel back in time and all around the world at this famous museum of science and anthropology. Meet Sue, the world's largest and most famous T-Rex, and explore more than 35 other world-famous exhibits. Walk through Underground Adventure, where everything is 100 times its normal size or discover 23 Egyptian mummies at the Inside Ancient Egypt exhibit. At the Field Museum, you'll learn to understand and appreciate the diversity of the world in which we live.

5. Adler Planetarium

Famed for being the first planetarium in the United States, Adler makes it possible for you to experience outer space without leaving Chicago. View actual footage of the moon, explore the fully-restored Gemini 12 spacecraft, learn about some of the world's most important telescopes, or watch one of the many spectacular space and sky shows. Before you leave, catch a glimpse of the award-winning view of the skyline from Adler's north and south terraces.

6. Chicago History Museum

If you're curious about Chicago's past, present, or future, the Chicago History Museum is an attraction you can't miss. The museum's goal is to "illuminate the past" in order to understand the present and shape the future. The building houses 22 million artifacts and documents pertaining to Chicago and U.S. history. Collections include architecture, costumes, archives and manuscripts, decorative and industrial arts, and prints and photographs. Several hands-on galleries make the museum a great place for history buffs and kids alike. Create, construct, and test your own Chicago-style bridge or act out the city's history on the museum's front steps.

7. Museum of Contemporary Art

The MCA is proudly one of the nation's largest facilities dedicated to current art. It's the residence of an expansive collection of contemporary artwork in painting, sculpture, photography, video and film, and performance. It also features innovative exhibits, a 300-seat theater, and a terraced sculpture garden with a fabulous view of Lake Michigan. The book store, gift shop, and restaurant make the MCA an all-inclusive tourist attraction.

8. The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

In the heart of Lincoln Park, Notebaert Nature Museum boasts an incomparable collection of nearly 250,000 specimens of plants, animals, fossils, and minerals. Explore the museum's one-of-a-kind exhibitions for infinite pathways to fun and learning. Escape in a haven of exotic butterflies, touch live endangered animals of Illinois' wetlands, or re-discover the Midwest through 3 scrupulously recreated habitats.

9. National Museum of Mexican Art

The largest Latino cultural organization in the country, the NMMA is the only Latino museum accredited by the American Association of Museums. Seven permanent collections of art reside in the museum, representing artistic expression from ancient Mexico to the Chicano Movement. The museum holds to the belief that Mexican culture is "without borders", and therefore freely displays art from both sides of the border. Through comprehensive educational exhibitions and performing arts programming, the museum fosters deep appreciation of Mexican culture.

10. DuSable Museum of African American History

In a city rich in African-American history, this unique museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and studying African and African-American history and culture. In addition to a 15,000 piece collection of artwork and historical artifacts, the museum has many permanent exhibits. Experience the diverse ways of life in 5 African regions in Africa Speaks or stop by Red, White, Blue & Black to learn about the history of African Americans in the U.S. armed forces. Film and music festivals, arts and crafts workshops, lectures, and other special events create a vibrant experience for all.


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