Chicago Museums: What's on Tap this Summer at Chicago's World Class Museums.

Chicago Museums: What's on Tap this Summer at Chicago's World Class Museums.
Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry.

Chicago, Monday, June 25, 2012. Take a sizzling hot Chicago summer day, add a cooling adventure to one of Chicago’s 50 plus museums, stir in a ride on the CTA,  Metra or Water Taxi and you have all the ingredients for a very special day (or many days) exploring the universe at Chicago’s world-class museums.

Show Me Chicago has put together a list of some of the outstanding exhibits at Chicago’s most popular museums plus a list of other museums you may want to explore. Also check out the information at the bottom of the post on the ChicagoPass and the Chicago Public Library Museum Pass for Chicago residents.

The Museum of Science & Industry.

In partnership with the Discovery Channel and its Emmy®-nominated series MythBusters, the Museum of Science & Industry presents the world premiere of an exhibition which uncovers the truth or myth behind everything from toast landing butter-side down to blowing a brick house down.

At MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition Uncovers Truth or Myth, you’ll find hands-on experiments, explore props and gadgets from the show and watch live demonstrations by myth-busting facilitators. Through September 3. MSI,  Hyde Park at Lake Shore Drive and 57th Street on Chicago’s South Side.

Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier.

Have you ever dreamed of joining the circus? Now your kids can experience the tricks and trades of the business with the exhibit Circus Zirkus at the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier. Kids can learn to juggle, become a clown or work the ticket booth at the family-friendly exhibit. Through August 12. Also while at Navy Pier, you can enjoy 50 acres of parks, promenades, gardens, shops, eateries and attractions open year-round. You can bike along the pier or play at Pier Park; the outdoor amusement area features a 150-foot-high Ferris wheel, musical carousel and miniature golf course. 700 E. Grand Ave.

The Art Institute of Chicago.

Pack a picnic for the Jay Pritzker Pavilion Great Lawn and interact with the iconic Cloud Gate and Crown Fountain sculptures before heading next door to The Art Institute of Chicago for a look at the Roy Lichtenstein: Retrospective of a Leading Pop Artist. The special exhibition is the first assessment of the full scope and breadth of the foremost Pop artist’s career since his death in 1997. It features over 130 paintings and sculptures, as well as over 30 little-or never-before-seen drawings and collages. Through September 3. 111 South Michigan Avenue.

The Field Museum.

The Field Museum is probably best known for its dinosaur displays, but it also has a rich and deep dedication to “the diversity and relationships in nature and among cultures.” It currently holds, conserves, studies more than 20 million objects, a collection which grew from holdings received after the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. At their current special exhibition, Genghis Kahn, visitors will learn about his life, his land, his people, his culture – and his enduring legacy as a ruthless Mongol warlord. Through September 6. Part of the Museum Campus at  1400 South Lake Shore Drive.

The Chicago History Museum.

A great escape…Harry Houdini called this magical artifact “the best escape that I have ever invented,” and it has just arrived at the Chicago History Museum for Magic, an exhibition for families that explores the history of magic and its ties to Chicago. The exhibition uses live magic performances, a display of significant artifacts and an interactive theater experience to bring to life magic history. The Chicago History Museum exhibits artifacts from the depth of their 22 million item collection and from the breadth of the city’s history. From the Chicago Bulls to the Great Chicago Fire, the museum offers contexts and exhibits to make Chicago’s history relevant to today. Magic will be on display at the Chicago History Museum now through January 6, 2013. 1601 N. Clark.

The Museum of Contemporary Art. (MCA).

A  new high…This summer, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago presents Skyscraper: Art and Architecture Against Gravity, a selection of contemporary artworks that consider the form, technology, myth, and message of the modern skyscraper. The MCA brings this iconic building structure to life in Chicago, a city that is widely known as the birthplace of this architectural type. Over fifty international artists working in the 20th and 21st centuries are featured with works ranging from film and video to painting, sculpture, and photography. Skyscraper is on view from June 30 to September 23, 2012, and is curated by Michael Darling, MCA James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator, and Joanna Szupinska, MCA Marjorie Susman Curatorial Fellow. MCA is located a few blocks East of the Old Water Tower and the Mag Mile at 220 East Chicago Avenue.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

The Nature Museum is devoted to “inspiring people to learn about and care for nature and the environment.” The museum works in conjunction with the collections and scientists of the Chicago Academy of Sciences to create exhibits, programs, and more. A special exhibition, Bikes! The Green Revolution opens June 29, 2012. The exhibit examines the American bicycle and Chicago’s bike culture detailing the roots of America’s most democratic and sustainable form of transportation and considers why human-powered locomotion could be the way of the future for our rapidly evolving urban environment. Also make sure to stop by the museum’s live butterfly exhibit. 2430 N. Cannon Drive.

If you want to make a day of it the Lincoln Park Zoo, nestled along Chicago’s lakefront is right next door. The zoo is one of the country’s last remaining FREE admission zoos. Visitors can walk amongst the various habitats, from the interactive Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo to the state-of-the-art Regenstein Center for African Apes, and connect with nature at the Boardwalk – an oasis of wildlife, native trees, prairie and wetland plants. You can grab a bite to eat at the zoo, or the nearby Cafe Brauer or have dinner at the upscale North Pond.

DuSable Museum of African American History.

DuSable Museum is the nation’s oldest museum dedicated to the exploration, documentation, and celebration of the African American experience. A popular exhibit at the museum is A Slow Walk to Greatness: The Harold Washington Story. The installation takes a close look into the life and legacy of Harold Washington, the city’s first African American Mayor.  740 East 56th Place, on the East Side of Washington Park. You may also want to check out their 38th Annual Arts & Crafts Festival on Saturday and Sunday, July 14, 15, 2012

Oriental Institute Museum.

The Oriental Institute, part of the University of Chicago, is a research organization and museum devoted to the study of the ancient Near East. It is noted as a pioneer in the archaeology, philology, and history of early Near Eastern civilizations.  Their current exhibition, Picturing the Past, presents paintings, architectural reconstructions, facsimiles, casts, models, photographs, and computer-aided reconstructions that show how the architecture, sites, and artifacts of the ancient Middle East have been documented. The exhibit also shows how features of the ancient Middle East have been presented in different ways for different audiences, in some cases transforming a highly academic image into a widely recognized icon of the past. The exhibit continues through September 2, 2012. 1155 East 58th Street.

The Shedd Aquarium.

The Shedd Aquarium galleries are home to creatures from the Waters of the World – rivers and reefs, Great Lakes and small ones, and the global ocean. Visitors can tour of the water planet, immerse themselves in the Caribbean Reef, Amazon Rising’s flooded forest, the Oceanarium’s Pacific Northwest coast and Wild Reef’s Indo-Pacific reef or go totally polar in Polar Play Zone. Don’t miss their popular exhibit Jellies that shows how these exquisite creatures which are 95 percent water, survive and thrive in the world’s oceans. The Shedd is part of the Museum Campus, East of Soldier Field at 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr.

The Adler Planetarium.

The skies the limit at The Adler Planetarium’s space show, Welcome to the Universe. The show begins in Chicago, then takes you farther out than earthlings have yet to step foot. You can also learn how to read the sky, so if you ever get lost you can always orient yourself by finding the North Star (just like Harriet Tubman when she led escaped slaves to freedom). Part of the Museum Campus at 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr.


If you plan on visiting a number of museums, you may want to purchase the 9-day Chicago City Pass.


Passes for families of up to four people are available for check out from Chicago Public Library branches.  Each library location has a limited number of Passports for participating museums. The Museum Passport program by Museums Work for Chicago has 2 passes to each museum available at each of the 76 CPL branches, and 3 passports to each museum available at the Harold Washington Library Center and the two regional libraries, Sulzer and Woodson.  The passes admit 4 people, one of whom must be a child under 18 and a maximum of two adults.  The pass can be checked out for one week, and must be returned to the same location where it was checked out.


Most Chicago Museums offer free admission on certain days. Check out websites of the museums that you are interested in visiting for details.


Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture.
Cernan Earth and Space Center.
Evanston Art Center.
Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center.
Illinois Railway Museum.
Kohl Children’s Museum.
Latvian Folk Art Museum.
Lederman Science Center,
Loyola University Museum of Art.

Mitchell Museum of the American Indian.
Morton Aboretum.
Museum of Broadcast Communications.
Museum of Contemporary Art.
Museum of Contemporary Photography.
National Museum of Mexican Art.
National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum.
Polish Museum of America.
Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows at Navy Pier.
Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies.
Swedish American Museum Center
The David & Alfred Smart Museum of Art.
Ukrainian National Museum.

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