The 10 Best Museums in Illinois!

Museums provide the ideal space for delving deep into history and navigating through rich cultures from all over the world. Many museums across the state of Illinois are successful in supplying both a fun and educational atmosphere for adults and children alike. With a wealth of rotating exhibits and fascinating permanent collections, here are the 10 best museums in Illinois.

1. Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL

The Field Museum in Chicago is one of the largest museums in the world, and it truly offers something for everyone. Founded in 1893, this non-profit institution contains exhibits from around the world. Anthropology, geology, botany, zoology, geology, and cultural exhibits are open for visitors to explore. Visitors can also view the most complete and best-preserved fossils of Sue, the world’s largest Tyrannosaurus rex.

2. Chicago History Museum, Chicago, IL

As the second most visited museum in Chicago, the Chicago History Museum is worth the trip. It offers many exhibits displaying items from Chicago’s past. Visitors can browse through exhibits of old books, artwork, costumes, photographs, and more. This museum and government institution also provides guided tours, lectures, kids activities, and more.

3. Naper Settlement, Naperville, IL

The Naper Settlement in Naperville gives visitors a glimpse into late 19th century and early 20th century living. Founded in 1969, this historical site and history museum sees an estimated 150,000 tourists each year. Visitors can browse through the exhibits of history materials and business items of the past. This non-profit organization also offers group tours, audio guides, interactive exhibits, lectures, kids activities, and a restaurant. 

4. Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Springfield, IL

Visit the only home Lincoln ever owned. Located in Springfield, this historic landmark preserves where Lincoln lived from 1844 to 1861. Even the homes around the Lincoln home have been restored to their original condition of that time. Visitors can also tour the four-block neighborhood around the Lincoln Home and catch a glimpse of what it was like living in the 1860s.

5. The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Whether you’re an artist or simply appreciate art, you’ll want to visit the Art Institute of Chicago. Founded in 1879, this award-winning museum boasts art exhibits from cultures around the world including India, Africa, and Europe. Visitors can browse contemporary, medieval, ancient, modern, and other types of art styles. There’s sculptures, paintings, photography, textiles, and more.

6. Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, Skokie, IL

Its slogan is to “Take history to heart. Take a stand for humanity.” And this Skokie museum does just that. The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center’s mission is essentially this: to shed light on a tragic past and press forward in a positive direction for the future. According to its website, the museum is “dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust by honoring the memories of those who were lost and by teaching universal lessons that combat hatred, prejudice and indifference.”

7. International Museum of Surgical Science, Chicago, IL

Learn all about the breakthroughs and failures in pre-modern and modern healing at the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago. Explore four floors of extraordinary artifacts, sculptures, paintings, and illustrations that interpret healing practices throughout history. There are also themed exhibitions featuring cardiology, X-rays, orthopedics, obstetrics and other surgical categories available for visitors to explore.

8. Adler Planetarium, Chicago, IL

The exhibits at the Adler Planetarium are astronomical. Ideal for anyone who loves space, this museum and non-profit institution offer visitors a chance to observe antique astronomical instruments, rare books, historic scientific instruments, paintings, and more. Visitors can also access the Doane Observatory, watch sky shows in the theatres, and explore the many exhibitions.

9. Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL

Explore the rich history of Illinois at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield. This museum is actually a system of galleries and museums that feature exhibitions exclusive to the state of Illinois. Visitors can catch a glimpse into the past to see how Native Americans lived, view the anthropology exhibit, attend various events, and much more. There’s also a children’s play center where kids can explore.

10. Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL

This award-winning museum features 40,000 square-feet of immersive exhibitions and experiences. View science storms, experience a flight simulator, tour the U-505 submarine, and try not to get lost in a mirror maze. The Museum of Science and Industry has so many galleries to explore, you’re sure to learn something. It’s so large, you may not even get a chance to see all the exhibits.

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