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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110 West Fremont Street, Arlington Heights, IL
Mission: The past is never lost - as long as it is remembered. Towards that goal, the Arlington Heights Historical Museum collects and preserves si... Read More
408 South Broadway, U.S. Highway 37, Salem, IL
About William Jennings Bryan was born in this home in 1860. The house was built for his father, Judge Silas M. BRYAN. The house is on the Nationa... Read More
5700 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL
About the MuseumChicago's Museum of Science and Industry, one of the largest science museums in the world, is home to more than 35,000 artifacts an... Read More
5550 South Greenwood Avenue, Chicago, IL
Mission statement: The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago opens the world through art and ideas. Aboutus: As the art museum of the... Read More
1524 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL
Mission:  The mission of the Museum is to enrich people's lives by enhancing their appreciation and understanding of the history, development... Read More
1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL
Mission Statement: The Field Museum inspires curiosity about life on Earth while exploring how the world came to be and how we can make it a bette... Read More
1601 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL
Mission Statement The Chicago History Museum is a privately endowned, independent instiation devoted to collecting, interpreting and presenting th... Read More
2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL
The Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum inspire people to learn about and care for nature and the environment. The i... Read More
2430 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL
Founded in 1857, The Chicago Academy of Sciences was Chicago’s first museum. In 1999, the Academy opened the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in... Read More
1852 West 19th Street, Chicago, IL
Our Roots And Mission: In 1982, Carlos Tortolero organized a group of fellow educators and founded the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, which open... Read More
800 South Halsted St., Chicago, IL
Mission Statement The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum serves as a dynamic memorial to Jane Addams, the work of her associates, and the neighborhood ... Read More
700 East Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL
Mission: Chicago Children's Museum's mission is to improve children's lives by creating a community where play and learning connect. About Us: C... Read More
116 Altgeld Hall, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL
Mission and ObjectivesAs an art museum belonging to an academic institution, the dual roles of the Northern Illinois University Art Museum are to c... Read More
509 North First Street, Dekalb, IL
The House Today The Ellwood House property today consists of about 8.5 acres, which includes the wooded area to the North of the mansion. The origi... Read More
150 Cottage Hill Avenue, Elmhurst, IL
Mission:Our mission is to provide the people of Elmhurst and surrounding communities with a center for visual arts - known for its welcoming atmosp... Read More
40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, IL
Mission Statement: The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art enriches teaching and learning on the campuses of Northwestern University and in the comm... Read More
2N930 Garfield Rd., Lafox, IL
Garfield Farm and Tavern, listed in the National Register of Historic Sites, is a 281-acre farmstead and former 1840s teamster inn 40 miles west of... Read More
813 School Avenue, Matteson, IL
Mission The mission of the Matteson Historical Museum is to curate, conserve and provide access to the historical documents and artifacts on loan ... Read More
901 Washington Street, Mendota, IL
The Hume-Carnegie Museum fosters an understanding and appreciation of Mendota and the surrounding communities by collecting and preserving the area... Read More
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