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Chicago’s museums showcase something for everyone

There’s no better way to spend a chilly fall afternoon than strolling through one of the many museums Chicago has to offer. From art to science to interactive exhibits, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Dive into the world of scientific discovery at the Museum of Science + Industry Chicago.

James Foster / For the Sun Times

Top attractions

Adler Planetarium: Spend a day under the stars! Explore the solar system, space travel, astronomy, telescopes and more by attending a show or walking around the museum. 1300 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr. Admission $8-$180; eagleplanetarium.org

Color Factory Chicago: This “experimental art museum” invites patrons to explore the colors of the rainbow through interactive exhibits, art and joy-inducing rooms. Jump in the green ball pit, walk through an artful maze and sip on a colour-changing drink at this unique and picturesque experience. Willis Tower, 320 W. Jackson Blvd. Admission $28-$44; colorfactory.co

International Museum of Surgical Science: Established in 1954, this hidden gem showcases over 7,000 medical and surgical artifacts from around the world. Museumgoers can also peruse a collection of skulls and art depicting historical events. 1524 N Lake Shore Dr. Admission $10-$18; imss.org

Museum of Science + Industry Chicago: An array of exhibits dive into scientific themes, like architecture, transportation technology, energy, biology, weather and more. Special attractions include flight and motion simulators, live science experiment shows and a tour of the U-505 submarine. The popular “Art of the Brick” show, featuring Lego sculptures by artist Nathan Sawaya, has been extended to Jan. 16. 5700 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr. Admission $12.95-$21.95, additional fees apply for select experiences; msichicago.org

Children admire the Huichol mural, “The New Awakening,” at the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Children admire the Huichol mural, “The New Awakening,” at the National Museum of Mexican Art.

National Museum of Mexican Art: Visit this homage to Mexican art and culture in Pilsen to admire textiles, paintings, photography, 3D art and more. Exhibits aim to represent Mexican artists, educate and inspire social justice. 1852 W. 19th St. Free; nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org

The Field Museum: Browse exhibits like “Native Truths: Our Voices, Our Stories,” “Jurassic Oceans: Monsters of the Deep,” “Wild Color” and more. And don’t forget to say hi to the infamous Sue the T. rex! Free admission and discounted All-Access and Discovery passes are available for Illinois residents on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 1400 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr. Admission $18-$42; fieldmuseum.org

WNDR Museum: Ignite astonishment at this Instagram-worthy spectacle, featuring eclectic exhibits like the “Infinity Mirrored Room,” a motion-sensor light floor, an optical illusion “Ames Room” and many more interactive installations. 1130 W. Monroe St. Admission $28-$50; wndrmuseum.com

Exhibits and Events to Explore

‘Resilience’ at the National Hellenic Museum. The photography exhibit by HRH Prince Nikolaos depicting natural Grecian beauty will kick off the grand reopening of the National Hellenic Museum. Sept. 16-Dec. 30 at 333 S Halsted St Admission $7-$10; nationalhellenicmuseum.org

Visit with penguins at the Shedd Aquarium's Penguin Encounter experience.  Select dates through Sept 30.

Visit with penguins at the Shedd Aquarium’s Penguin Encounter experience. Select dates through Sept 30.

Courtesy of Shedd Aquarium

Penguin Encounter at the Shedd Aquarium. During this 30-minute experience, you’ll be able to observe, touch and take pictures with one of the Shedd Aquarium’s penguins. Select dates through Sept. 30 at 1200 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr. Tickets $50-$94.95, admission to the aquarium is included; sheddaquarium.org

‘Whereabouts’ at the Epiphany Center for the Arts. In this exhibit, artist Mary Jones represents the act of walking and cultural, emotional and visual perspectives. october 21-Nov. 25. The Sacristy Gallery, 201 S. Ashland. Free, registration encouraged; epiphanychi.com

Nick Cave and Jack Cave's “The Color Is” fashion exhibition runs through Nov. 27 at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center.

Nick Cave and Jack Cave’s “The Color Is” fashion exhibition runs through Nov. 27 at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center.

Nick Cave and Jack Cave: ‘The Color Is’ Fashion Exhibition at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center. Brothers, artists and activists Nick and Jack Cave debut 40-45 fashion pieces made from beads, recycled textiles and more. Each garment transcends gender and represents Black culture. Through Nov. 27 at 740 E. 56th Pl. Admission $5-$14.50; dusablemuseum.org

‘Interiors’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The exhibit draws inspiration from “Chiffonier,” a painting by Miyoko Ito. Sculptures, paintings and photographs use geometric shapes to abstractly represent bodies and identity. Through Jan. 8 at 220 E. Chicago Ave. $8-$15 suggested admission; mcachicago.org

David Hockney, “17th April 2020, no.  2,” © David Hockney.

David Hockney, “17th April 2020, no. 2.”

© David Hockney/Courtesy The Art Institute of Chicago

‘David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020’ at the Art Institute of Chicago. Known for his influence on the British Pop Art movement in the 1960s and his pool paintings, David Hockney took to a modern medium for this exhibit: the iPad. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Hockney depicted the emergence of spring in rural Normandy, France. Through Jan. 9. Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave. Members and children 13 and under are free, admission $14-$35; artic.edu

First Flight Butterfly Release at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Learn about butterflies and their journeys and greet newcomers as they take flight. Check out other daily programs like Critter Connection and Animal Feeding to interact with more animals at the museum. Every day. Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N Cannon Dr. Children under 3 are free, admission $6-$9; naturemuseum.org


Art Institute of Chicago Audio Tours: Download the free Art Institute of Chicago app to hear more about artwork that interests you as you look around the museum. Commentary is available in five languages. You can also browse collections virtually on the Art Institute website. 111 S. Michigan Ave. Free app, admission $14-$35; artic.edu

Chicago Cultural Center Building Tours: Marvel at architectural beauty as you learn about one of Chicago’s most popular landmarks. While you’re there, check out art exhibitions and community events. All year on Thursdays and Fridays at 1:15 pm Check calendar for events. 78 E. Washington St., 5th Floor. Free; chicagoculturalcenter.org


Take a tour of the Chicago Cultural Center.

Courtesy Chicago DCASE / James Prinz Photography

Clarke House Museum Tours: Every Wednesday and Saturday at 1 pm, one-hour guided tours showing the oldest house in Chicago, built in 1836. Eight slots are available each day on a first-come, first-served basis. 1827 S. Indiana Ave. Free; clarkehousemuseum.com

Glitterati on the Gold Coast: Take a walk back in time on one of the Chicago History Museum’s most popular tours. This 1.5- to two-hour walking tour highlights historic mansions, Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and more along the glamorous Gold Coast. Select dates through Nov. 19. Meet at the museum, 1601 N. Clark St. Tickets $22.50-$25; chicagohistory.org

Open House Chicago: The Chicago Architecture Center offers self-guided tours, programs and information on architecture and history throughout the city on a free app. Highlights include Central Park Theater, Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica, the CTA Control Center and the Chinese American Museum of Chicago. october 1-31 and in person tours Oct. 15-16 Various locations. 111 E. Wacker Dr. Free; openhousechicago.org

If you’re visiting Chicago or want to hit a few museums over a nine-day period, CityPASS grants access to the Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck Chicago, the Field Museum and two of the following: Art Institute Chicago, Museum of Science and Industry, 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck and the Adler Planetarium at 48% off. CityPASS is $93 for children ages 3-11 and $114 for adults ages 12 and up. Visit citypass.com for more information.

Many Chicago-area museums also participate in Museums for All, a program which provides reduced or free admission to families receiving SNAP benefits. Visit museums4all.org for more information.

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