The Field Museum is one of the best family-friendly attractions in Chicago, covering 460 billion years of natural history under one roof. It was originally founded in 1893 and called the Columbian Museum of Chicago, after the World’s Columbian Exhibition of the same year. It brought together artifacts, objects, and exhibits from the World’s Fair and has preserved them ever since.
It has served as a center for scientific exploration for over 120 years and is one of the most prominent natural history museums in the country, so there’s lots to see and explore. Be sure to use some of these insider tips to make the most of your visit.
Looking for The Field Museum Discount Tickets?
We’ve got you covered – The Field Museum admission is available with the below money saving options, so you can choose the attraction pass that’s right for you:
1. All-Inclusive Pass – All you can do. Includes admission to dozens of attractions.
2. Explorer Pass – Choose as you go. Includes admission of up to 5 attractions.
3. Build Your Own Pass – Select the attractions you want to visit prior to visiting.
See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.
Tips for Visiting The Field Museum
- Download The Field Museum Mobile Tour App for exclusive content, experiences that will help you make the most of your visit, and curated tours based on an interest or theme of your choice. (Available from the App Store or Google Play.) Insider tip: use the scavenger hunt on the app to keep kids entertained and engaged with the exhibits in the museum!
- Join in on one of the FREE daily tours led by the museum staff.
- Museum Highlights Tour: 11:00 am daily, learn about the Museum’s history, most popular collections and exhibitions, and the ongoing science and research being conducted. (45-60 minutes)
- SUE Talk: 12:00 pm daily, learn about SUE, the world’s largest Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in the world. (15-20 minutes)
- Pawnee Earth Lodge: Weekdays, 1:00 – 2:00 pm and Weekends, 10:00 am-4:30 pm, learn about Native American life out west on the Great Plains and walk through a traditional 1800s home of the Pawnee.
- Additional Tours: Check the online calendar for additional docent-led tours.
- To save money on admission to The Field Museum, pick up a Go Chicago Card or Chicago Explorer Pass. You can save on combined admission to The Field Museum and other top attractions right in Museum Campus, including the Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium.
- Visiting Chicago on a budget? Avoid convenient-but-pricey food options and pack a brown bag lunch, The Field Museum has designated areas in the Siragusa center where visitors can have a snack.
- Strollers and wheelchairs are available to rent on a first-come, first-served basis.
When to Visit
Like many Chicago attractions, The Field Museum is most popular between mid-morning and early afternoon and on weekends. To avoid the biggest crowds, head to the museum early in the morning, later in the evening, and on a weekday.
We recommend planning to be at the Field Museum for at least 3 hours to explore the exhibits fully.
What to Do There
The Field Museum features fascinating exhibitions and attractions that cover everything from dinosaurs, to ancient Egyptian life, to Native American life, to natural gems. Some exhibit highlights are:
SUE the T. rex
See the world’s largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever found in the world. SUE the T. rex is 42 feet long from snout to tail and 13 feet tall at the hip.
Examine SUE’s original skull from all angles, even underneath, and learn about what scientists believe caused the holes in her jaws and what new discover a CT scan of her skull revealed.
Another highlight of this exhibit is the displays depicting the differences between fact, theory, and speculation with clips from pop culture that portray the how scientific knowledge and understanding of the T. rex has evolved through the years.
Turtle Ants from The Field Museum on Vimeo.
Shrink to 1/100th of your size to get a “bug’s-eye view” of the world and immerse yourself in an environment of worm tunnels and soil chambers. You’ll discover the diversity of bug and animal life that make a home in the soil and learn all about how plant roots, seeds, and fungus find nourishment in the soil.
Organisms you’ll learn about include a giant mole cricket, crayfish, wolf spiders, and other animatronic critters. Learn how a mama earwig uses her snapping tail to defend her babies, see snail eggs hatch, and more.
Some key takeaways from this exhibit will be how the actions of humans help and hurt soil and thus maintain or threaten the health of the ecosystems that depend on it.
The Tsavo Lions
Learn about the notorious man-eating lions of Tsavo. These large wild lions live in the Tsavo region, located in the Kenya Savannah, and have been the source of a lot of zoological curiosity.
You’ll see the bodies of the two lions on display. They’re famous for killing an estimated 34 (though legend has it at 135) people in 1898 before being shot by Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson, on display. Zoologist Bruce Patterson ran tests of hair samples from the lions’ bodies that confirmed that the lions had eaten humans close to the time that they were killed.
Insider tip: prepare for your trip to The Field Museum by watching, The Ghost and the Darkness, the movie that dramatized the events of 1898 and made these two lions famous. (Warning: only watch if you like scary movies.)
Inside Ancient Egypt
Explore how the elaborate preparations ancient Egyptians made for the afterlife help demonstrate what life in ancient Egypt was like.
Visitors can tour a three story replica of the tomb of Unis-Ankh, son of the of Egyptian Pharoah Unis, dating back to 2400 BC and examine hieroglyphs, mummies, a Book of the Dead, and even a marketplace with artifacts from everyday ancient Egyptian life.
You’ll also see a number of Ancient Egyptian art and artifacts, from jewelry and charms to pottery and tools. It’s an excellent survey of life on the Nile.
Journey through 4 billion years of life on Earth in the Evolving Planet exhibit. Get an up-close look at fossils, animated videos, hands-on displays, and more that tell the story of evolution, the single process that connects everything, from single-celled organisms to dinosaurs and humans, that’s ever lived on Earth.
DNA Discovery Center
This working, state-of-the-art DNA research facility is host to dozens of scientists currently analyzing DNA of thousands of species. The DNA Discovery Center has helped in answering lots of basic and complex questions about DNA and making progress on what we know about life on this planet.
It’s one of only a few museums in the world that has a DNA research facility right inside their walls.
Visitors can see DNA research in action and speak directly with scientists about their work in the laboratory viewing area (*weekdays from 11:00 am-12:00 pm).
Grainger Hall of Gems
One of the most popular exhibits at The Field Museum, Grainger Hall is home to over 600 gemstones and 150 pieces of jewelry. The display includes many pieces from the legendary Tiffany & Co. Collection offered at the 1893 World’s Colombian Exposition, combining the beauty of nature with the creativity of human artistry.
You’ll learn about the process of discovering, extracting, and transforming natural rare jewels and turning them into stunning stones and spectacular jewelry.
Of course, it’s also a stunning exhibition of really striking stones. From beautiful gemstones to bizarre-looking metals and minerals, there is much to fascinate about this exhibit.
The Field Museum is conveniently located in Museum Campus, a picturesque park on the water, near a few other top Chicago attractions, including…
No trip to Chicago is complete without exploring the impressive diversity of aquatic life from all over the globe at Chicago’s most visited attraction, the world-famous Shedd Aquarium. The aquarium is home to 32,000 fascinating marine animals in a range of diverse habitats and exhibits. Explore Waters of the World, Carribbean Reef, Amazon Rising, Abbott Oceanarium, Wild Reef and more.
Getting in: Shedd Aquarium tickets are included with Go Chicago Card.
Experience all things space and do some out-of-this-world exploration at America’s first planetarium. The planetarium encompasses 91 billion light years of the Universe with diverse shows, hands-on exhibits, and scientific experts. Make sure to catch a show at the Atwood Sphere Experience.
Getting in: Adler Planetarium tickets are included with Go Chicago Card.
The Art Institute of Chicago
On the other end of the Museum Campus, you’ll find the Art Institute of Chicago, consistently rated among the top art museums in the country by TripAdvisor. The museum houses a collection of modern, contemporary, architectural and design-based art pieces. See Chagall’s “America Windows”, Matisse’s “Bathes by the River”, and Georgia O’Keefe’s “Black Cross, New Mexico”.
Just south of the planetarium, nature lovers will enjoy exploring Northerly Island, a 91-acre peninsula dedicated to nature with walking paths, play areas, and some of the best fishing in the city. Plus, it’s one of the best places to take pictures in Chicago.
Places to Eat Nearby
The Field Bistro – Located in the Field Museum, The Field Bistro offers locally grown prepared foods and products for an easy and family-friendly fast-casual dining experience. The menu features muffins, fresh fruit, hot items, sandwiches, salads, soups, burgers, and more. Craft beer and wine is also available at the bar.
Explorer Cafe – With a menu that supports the Field Museum’s educational and sustainable vision, the Explorer Cafe has lots of locally purchased products available in this more cafeteria-style, family-friendly dining option.
Kim & Carlo’s Hot Dog Stand – Check off a must-try Chicago food staple experience to your trip to The Field Museum at Kim & Carlo’s Hot Dog Stand, located right outside the museum. Load up your Polish-style dog with all of the toppings you can stomach and enjoy.
Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria – No trip to Chicago is complete without a generous portion of authentic, Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Lou Malnati’s features always delicious pies with flakey, buttery crust and unbeatable topping combos. Location: 805 S. State St. Chicago, IL 60605
Kai Sushi – For a little bit lighter fare, try Kai Sushi, a BYOB sushi joint featuring fresh fish dishes and classic Japanese fare. Insider tip: head here on a nice day to enjoy their outdoor patio seating. Address: 1255 S. State St. Chicago, IL 60605
Save on Admission
Don’t leave Chicago without visiting the world-renowned Field Museum and exploring Museum Campus.
Remember, with the Go Chicago® Card you can save up to 55% on combined admission to The Field Museum, and lots of other top Chicago attractions, including: Shedd Aquarium, SkyDeck Chicago, Architecture River Cruise, 360 CHICAGO, Art Institute of Chicago, and many more.