Top Museums in Chicago to Visit During Your Trip

Planning a vacation to Chicago? Our local experts put together a list of the top Chicago museums to consider adding to your itinerary.

Chicago’s diverse and unique museums are one of the main reasons tourists visit The Windy City.

Whether you’re an art, history, or architecture enthusiast or interested in science and wildlife, you’ll find an educational and entertaining museum on our list.

We put together a list of some popular Chicago museums that you should consider visiting during your trip.

Want Passes to Top Chicago Museums?

Admission to a number of these attractions are included on the Go Chicago® Card.

Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.

Browse all available Chicago Multi-Attraction Passes.

A few of the museums available on the Go Chicago Card include…

  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • The Field Museum
  • Museum of Science and Industry
  • Chicago History Museum
  • Museum of Contemporary Art

The Art Institute of Chicago


This world-renowned art museum is a must-see for any visit to Chicago. Consistently ranked as the best museum in the United States, The Art Institute of Chicago is home to some of the most sought-out art in the world.

Browse through impressive collections of art ranging from modern photography to medieval armor and ancient artifacts. The museum also hosts several vibrant and continually changing exhibitions in addition to their permanent collection.

Some of the most famous works of art you can see there include Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Black Cross, New Mexico,” the Chagall “America Windows” stained glass windows, Matisse’s “Bathers by a River,” Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks,” and lots more.

Be sure not to leave before stopping in the Thorne Miniature Rooms, 68 European rooms recreated on a one-inch-to-one-foot scale!

Insider tip: download the museum’s Mobile App to plan your visit and learn more about the art you see.

Getting in: The Art Institute of Chicago Museum tickets are included on the Go Chicago Card All-Inclusive Pass.

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 skeleton, 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.

Getting in: The Field Museum tickets are included on the Go Chicago Card All-Inclusive Pass.

Museum of Science and Industry


Recently named one of the Top 25 Museums in the United States by TripAdvisor, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere and the only remaining building from the famous 1893 World’s Fair.

Visitors will enjoy the interactive, hands-on exciting exhibitions and exploring the museum’s more than 35,000 artifacts housed in 400,000 square feet. You can see a real WWII German submarine, control a 40-foot tornado, descend into an Illinois coal mine, and more.

Exhibit highlights include: Science Storms, exploring the science behind some of nature’s most powerful phenomena; YOU! The Experience, showcases what it means to live a healthy life; and U-505 Submarine, step inside the only German U-boat in the United States.

Getting in: Museum of Science and Industry tickets are included on the Go Chicago Card All-Inclusive Pass.

Chicago History Museum

Chicago-History-Museum-1If 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 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.

Getting in: Chicago History Museum tickets are included on the Go Chicago Card All-Inclusive Pass.

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.

You’ll see lots of works of art by living artists and get insight into the creative process and learn about new trends in artistic expression across all forms of media.

The museum also features innovative exhibits, a 300-seat theater, and a terraced sculpture garden with a fabulous view of Lake Michigan.

Getting in: Museum of Contemporary Art tickets are included on the Go Chicago Card All-Inclusive Pass.

Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Tour


Take a tour of the private residence and studio that once belonged to the world-famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.

His home is a result of Wright’s architectural experiments with the iconic design concepts that became his architectural philosophy. You’ll get to see his home, and the complex it resides in, which is made up of 29 of his own buildings, the largest concentration of Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings in the world.

This is a must-see attraction for any architecture enthusiast.

Getting in: Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Tour tickets are included on the Go Chicago Card All-Inclusive Pass.

Robie House


Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for his client Frederick C. Robie, the Robie House is considered one of the most important buildings in the history of American architecture.

Completed in 1910, the building showcases quintessential design elements of Prairie style, and is considered a classic example of modernism in American architecture – a must-see for any architecture fans.

Getting in: Robie House tickets are included on the Go Chicago Card All-Inclusive Pass.

Chicago Architecture Foundation


Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) Tours focus on the historical and modern buildings that make Chicago the “First City of American Architecture”.

Check out fun and exhibits that explore the unique architecture of Chicago and the challenges faced by architects, engineers, and city planners. You’ll get to choose from more than 85 tours of the city led by passionate and knowledgeable docents.

Go on one of the many walking tours offers and see some of Chicago’s famed architecture up close and personal.

Getting in: Chicago Architecture Foundation tickets are included on the Go Chicago Card All-Inclusive Pass.

Adler Planetarium


Explore the universe at Adler Planetarium, located right in Museum Campus, and learn about all things space.

You’ll get to watch your choice of a featured movie in the Atwood Theatre and interact with all of the museum’s exhibits.

Getting in: Adler Planetarium tickets are included on the Go Chicago Card All-Inclusive Pass.

Richard H. Driehaus Museum

The Sculpture Gallery of the Driehaus Museum

By Lmh9y6 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Learn about Chicago’s “Gilded Age” at the Driehaus Museum,  housed within the restored, 1883 palatial home of Samuel Mayo Nickerson, a wealthy Chicago banker.

You’ll learn all about the design, architecture, and decorating styles that were popular in the art nouveau era. This museum is also home to one of the largest collections of work by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Getting in: Admission is separately ticketed and not included on the Go Chicago Card.

Chicago Cultural Center

A national landmark itself, the Chicago Cultural Center offers a wealth of historical and cultural information about Chicago with more than 2,000 exhibitions, concerts, and performances, featuring performance, visual, and literary arts.

From historic to contemporary, the Chicago Cultural Center focuses on featuring artwork by underrepresented artists, with an emphasis on those from Chicago.

The building itself was built to showcase Chicago’s status as a thriving metropolis in 1897. It was designed by some of the world’s leading architects and houses the world’s largest Tiffany stained glass dome.

Getting in: admission to the Chicago Cultural Center is free.

Chicago Oriental Institute

UC Oriental Institute Persian section 08

By Nightryder84 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Run by the University of Chicago, the Chicago Oriental Institute explores the history, art, and archaeology of the Near East.

You’ll get to see permanent exhibits with displays featuring objects found in excavations from ancient Egypt, Nubia, Persia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Anatolia, and the ancient site of Megiddo. In addition to permanent exhibits, the Chicago Oriental Institute plays host to educational exhibits on rotation.

Getting in: Admission is separately ticketed and not included on the Go Chicago Card.

Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Go on a free daily guided tour of the Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and learn all about the role of the Federal Reserve System and the Chicago Fed.

Getting in: Money Museum admission is free and available to the public every day except national bank holidays.

Chicago Children’s Museum

Chicago Children's Museum exterior in May 2016

By MusikAnimal (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Located right at Navy Pier, the Chicago Children’s Museum is geared towards kids’ education enrichment.

Kids can build a skyscraper, climb a tree house, fish in a river, create art, and more. There’s always something go on at the Children’s Museum, check the calendar online to plan your visit around any special events.

Getting in: Admission is separately ticketed and not included on the Go Chicago Card.

Remember to Save on Museum Admission

Our list of some of the most popular museums in Chicago.

Remember, many (if not all) of these options are included on the Go Chicago Card, where you can save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.

Go Chicago Card

The information contained in this post, to the best of the author's knowledge, was accurate at time of publishing. We do our best to ensure and maintain the accuracy of this information.

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