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30 Museums and Galleries in Chicago


This post covers many of the best museums in Chicago, including art galleries, science museums, and museums on history, food, and culture. 

Museum Campus sign

Planning your Visit

Hours of operation can vary, so be sure to check the official website of each museum for special hours and temporary closures due to holidays, etc. 

Save money on admission to museums and tourist attractions with Chicago City Passes.

Learn more about Chicago history on a pay what you like walking tour.

Free Museums

Check out these options if you’re looking for Chicago museums with free admission all year long:

Chicago Cultural Center

Explore this gorgeous “People’s Palace” that was once Chicago’s first public library and is now a free admission cultural center with art galleries open year-round.

Location: 78 E Washington Street


  • 10 am - 6 pm | Tues - Sun
  • Closed on Mondays

Learn more about the Chicago Cultural Center.

Smart Museum of Art (University of Chicago)

The University of Chicago offers a free contemporary and modern art museum that focuses on complex issues and offers new and unique perspectives. 

Location: 5550 S. Greenwood Ave.


  • 10 am - 5 pm | Tue-Wed, Fri-Sun
  • 10 am - 8 pm | Thursday
  • Closed on Monday & major US holidays

Learn more about the Smart Museum of Art.

National Museum of Mexican Art

Learn about the art and culture of the Mexican community at this free museum in the Pilsen neighborhood. 

Location: 1852 W 19th Street


  • 10 am - 5 pm | Tue-Sun
  • Closed on Mondays

Learn more about the National Museum of Mexican Art.

National Veterans Art Museum

This free museum offers more than 2,500 pieces, with art derived from the experiences and perspectives of veterans. Donations are encouraged. 

Location: 4041 N Milwaukee Ave


  • 10 am - 5 pm | Tues - Sat
  • Closed Sundays and Mondays

Learn more about the National Veterans Art Museum.

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History, Arts & Science Museums in Chicago

Adler Planetarium 

Explore outer space in this family-friendly planetarium conveniently located at Museum Campus, within walking distance from Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium. 

Adler Planetarium

Location: 1300 S Dusable Lake Shore Dr.


  • 9 am - 4 pm | Fri-Mon
  • 4 pm - 10 pm | Weds
  • Closed | Tues, Thurs

Learn more about the Adler Planetarium

Art Institute of Chicago 

Named one of TripAdvisor’s Top US Attractions of 2022, this museum is a must for first-time visitors to Chicago!

Location: 111 S Michigan Ave


  • 11 am - 5 pm | Fri-Mon
  • 11 am - 8 pm | Thurs 
  • Closed | Tues, Weds

Learn more about the Art Institute of Chicago

Chicago History Museum 

Learn about how the history of the Windy City with interactive, family-friendly exhibitions exploring topics such as the Chicago Fire, President Abraham Lincoln, and Chicago as the crossroads of America.

Location: 1601 N Clark St


  • 9:30 am - 4:30 pm | Tues-Sat
  • 12 pm - 5 pm | Sunday
  • Closed | Monday

Learn more about the Chicago History Museum

Field Museum 

A staple in downtown Chicago museums, the Field Museum is a must-visit spot for any first-time visitor.

Meet Sue the T-Rex and ask questions about the natural world while viewing just a fraction of the 40 million artifacts and specimens in the Field collection. 

Field Museum entrance

Location: 1400 S Lake Shore Dr.


  • 9 am - 5 pm | Sun-Sat (last admission at 4 pm)

Learn more about the Field Museum

Richard H. Driehaus Museum

A local favorite art museum, their private collection covers Gilded Age America and shows off the architecture of the era. You can reserve ahead of time for a private tour led by local guides.

Location: 40 East Erie Street


  • 11 am - 3 pm | Wed
  • 11 am - 5 pm | Thurs, Sun
  • 10 am - 5 pm | Fri - Sat
  • Closed | Mon, Tues

Learn more about the Driehaus Museum.

Shedd Aquarium 

With more than 32,000 animals and 1,500 species, Shedd Aquarium is home to the most diverse aquatic collection in the world.

Kids of all ages will love the interactive exhibits and live educational shows!

Shedd Aquarium entrance

Location: 1200 S Dusable Lake Shore Dr.


  • 9 am - 5 pm | Sun-Sat

Learn more about the Shedd Aquarium.

Museum of Science and Industry 

One of the largest science museums in the world with 400,000 square feet of exhibit space, the Museum of Science and Industry is a local favorite.

The science-based exhibits are fun for all ages thanks to fresh and creative designs. 

Museum of Science and Industry

Location: 5700 S Dusable Lake Shore Dr.


  • 9:30 am - 4 pm | Sun-Sat

Learn more about the Museum of Science and Industry

Fun Museums

American Writers Museum

Located downtown just steps away from Millennium Park, The American Writers Museum tells the story of America from the writers who helped write it.

Walking through this modestly sized museum connects you with the not-so-distant history and culture that has led us to the written stories of today.

This affordable museum is the perfect spot for book lovers and young learners.

Location:180 North Michigan Ave


  • 10 am - 5 pm | Thurs-Monday
  • Closed | Tues, Weds

Learn more about the American Writers Museum

Chicago Children’s Museum

Located on Navy Pier, Chicago Children's Museum welcomes children to play, experiment, and learn.

We love the interactive quality of this museum’s collection, and their website and staff can help you discover which activities are best for your child based on their age and interests. 

Chicago Children's Museum - Navy Pier

Location: Navy Pier (700 E Grand Ave.)


  • 10 am - 2 pm | Thurs, Mon
  • 10 am - 5 pm | Fri-Sun
  • Closed | Tues, Weds

Learn more about the Chicago Children’s Museum

Chicago Sports Museum

This high-tech museum has engaging skill-based challenges paired with one-of-a-kind sports memorabilia. It's the perfect place for any sports fan to visit!

Location: 835 N Michigan Ave


  • 11:30 am - 7 pm | Mon-Thurs
  • 11:30 am - 8 pm | Fri, Sat
  • 12 pm - 6 pm | Sun

Learn more about the Chicago Sports Museum.

International Museum of Surgical Science

Curious about the history of surgery? Want to see firsthand the tools and techniques used to develop modern medicine?

Visit this standout museum that is the only one of its kind in North America. 

Location: 1524 N Lake Shore Drive


  • 9:30 am - 5 pm | Mon - Fri
  • 10 am - 5 pm | Sat - Sun

Learn more about the International Museum of Surgical Science.

Museum of Broadcast

Explore the history of radio and television broadcasts, with one-of-a-kind, local archived material, and exhibits.

Location: 360 North State Street


  • 10 am - 5 pm | Thurs - Sun
  • Closed | Mon-Weds

Learn more about the Museum of Broadcast.

Museum of Ice Cream

More of an immersive experience and family-fun experience than a traditional museum, this spot on Magnificent Mile offers free ice cream treats, the history of the cold confection, and will spark your creativity and curiosity. 

Location: 435 North Michigan Ave


  • 12 pm - 6 pm | Mon, Wed
  • 11 am - 6 pm |Thurs
  • 11 am - 7:30 pm | Fri
  • 10 am - 7:30 pm | Sat
  • 10 am - 6 pm | Sun
  • Closed on Tuesdays

Learn more about the Chicago Museum of Ice Cream.

Museum of Illusions

This family-friendly optical illusion museum is located in the Downtown Loop and will have you asking the question, “Can you believe what you see?”

Explore the Infinity and Vortex Tunnels, meet yourself at the Clone Table, and take tons of photos in this fun and humorous museum. 

Location: 25 E Washington St


  • Opens at 10 am daily. Admission times vary. Book in advance to ensure entry. 

Learn more about the Museum of Illusions.

Medieval Torture Museum

For fans of the human history of horrors, this museum is immersive and interactive with creepy and creative exhibits that cover the best of the worst of Medieval history.

Location: 177 N State Street


  • 10 am - 8 pm | Mon-Thurs
  • 10 am - 9 pm | Fri-Sun

Learn more about the Medieval Torture Museum.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Nature is all around us, and this museum’s mission is the education, preservation, and appreciation of nature and science.

Location: 2430 N Cannon Dr


  • 10 am - 4 pm | Sun-Sat

Learn more about the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Poetry Foundation

The publisher of POETRY magazine, this award-winning museum celebrates the existence of poetry in modern society and enriches visitors’ minds with the written word. 

Location: 61 W Superior St.


  • Closed | Sun-Tues
  • 11 am - 4 pm | Weds, Fri, Sat
  • 11 am - 7 pm | Thurs

Learn more about the Chicago Poetry Foundation.

Art Galleries

Block Museum of Art

Explore Evanston and visit this accredited art center on the beautiful Northwestern University campus featuring art from global perspectives.

Location: 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, IL 


  • 12 pm - 8 pm | Wed - Fri
  • 12 pm - 5 pm | Sat, Sun
  • Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

Learn more about the Block Museum of Art

DePaul Art Museum

Explore this gorgeous college campus museum, DPAM, while you’re in Lincoln Square.

Offering 3,500 permanent collection pieces with an international modern and contemporary focus in addition to three to five exhibitions annually. 

Location: 935 W. Fullerton Ave.


  • 11 am - 5 pm | Fri-Sun
  • 11 am - 7 pm | Weds, Thurs
  • Closed | Mon, Tues

Learn more about the DePaul Art Museum.

Hyde Park Art Center

The Hyde Park Art Center is more of a community center than a gallery, offering gathering and production space to local artists.

This is a place for artists to meet and exchange ideas, with dozens of educational programs and classes.

The incredible exhibitions are just a bonus, with many ambitious projects occupying the space year-round. 

Location: 5020 S. Cornell Avenue


  • 10 am - 7 pm | Mon-Thurs
  • 10 am - 4:30 pm | Fri
  • 10 am - 4 pm | Sat
  • 10 am - 1:30 pm | Sun

Learn more about the Hyde Park Art Center

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

If you’re looking for contemporary art, this is the spot in Chicago to visit.

Conveniently located near Water Tower Place on the Magnificent Mile, the MCA showcases the work and ideas of living artists.

See the art of the present as artists explore new techniques and express new ideas.

Location: 220 E Chicago Ave


  • 10 am - 5pm | Wed–Sun
  • 10 am - 9 pm | Tues 
  • Closed | Mon

Learn more about the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

Cultural Museums

DuSable Museum of African American History

Named after Chicago’s founder Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable, this Smithsonian-affiliate museum is a local favorite!

The collection and galleries are devoted entirely to the history and culture of Africans and Americans of African descent through a variety of mediums. 

The DuSable Black History Museum

Location: 740 East 56th Place


  • 11 am - 4 pm | Wed - Sun (last admission at 3:30 pm)
  • Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

Learn more about the DuSable Museum.

National Hellenic Museum

The architecture and design of this museum are the crown jewel of Greek history and symbolism, including a sweeping, skylit staircase representing the strength and resilience of Greek Americans.

Exhibits, programming, and special events make this a fantastic museum to explore. 

Location: 333 South Halsted Street


  • 10 am - 4 pm | Thurs - Sun
  • Closed | Mon - Weds

Learn more about the National Hellenic Museum.

Swedish American Museum

Nestled in the Andersonville “Little Sweden” neighborhood is the colorful American Swedish Institute.

This arts and cultural building invites everyone to examine diverse experiences and themes such as identity and belonging. Swedish culture is on full display!

Location: 5211 N Clark St.


  • 10 am - 4 pm | Tues-Fri
  • 11 am - 4 pm | Sat, Sun
  • Closed | Mon

Learn more about the Swedish American Museum.

The Oriental Institute

Are you a scholar interested in ancient civilizations? The University of Chicago’s OI Museum is home to 350,000 artifacts from the earliest recorded human history in Egypt, Nubia, Persia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Anatolia, and the Levant.

Location: The University of Chicago, 1155 E 58th St.


  • 10 am - 4pm | Tues - Sun
  • Closed on Mondays

Learn more about the Oriental Institute.

Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art 

This donation-based cultural museum in West Town offers events and workshops, films, gallery talks, and exhibits focused on the shared traditions of modern Ukrainian and American culture and bringing together a community of international artists.

Location: 2320 W Chicago Ave.


  • 12 pm to 4 pm | Wed - Sun
  • Closed | Mon, Tues

Learn more about the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art.

About The Author

Andy Meholick

Andy has been a Chicago tour guide with Free Tours by Foot since 2015. He loves guiding groups around the Windy City telling stories of the past, offering tips to enjoy your visit, and showing off the city's world-class architecture. Andy is also the host of the Free Tours by Foot Chicago Youtube Channel, offering traveler tips and virtual tours.
Updated: March 16th, 2023
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