The city’s oldest cultural institution is the Chicago History Museum . Through artifacts, dioramas, photographs, paintings and video presentations, the museum tells Chicago’s complete story, from early frontier days to the present. Museum highlights include the Hands-On History Gallery with “please touch” artifacts; an exhibit and film on the Great Chicago Fire of 1871; and the American History Wing documenting history from the revolution to the aftermath of the Civil War. The museum underwent a massive renovation in 2005-06 and reopened in September 2006. For families with older children, teen audio tours are available for download through the museum’s website
The John G. Shedd Aquarium / Oceanarium offers the world’s largest indoor collection of aquatic mammals, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fish. Wild Reef–Sharks at Shedd was unveiled as the Shedd’s newest permanent exhibition in 2003. With more than 750,000 gallons of water, this exhibit allows guests to get face-to-face with 30 sharks--one of the most diverse shark exhibits in North America. The newly renovated exotic Coral Reef exhibit houses more than 500 aquatic species, demonstrating the crucial role coral reefs play in the health of oceans. Guests can watch daily feedings at the Coral Reef, where a diver hand-feeds fish and answers audience questions about the different species.
The Shedd’s 3 million gallon Oceanarium—the world’s largest marine mammal pavilion--will be undergoing renovations from September 2008 to summer 2009, bringing home improvements to its resident Beluga whales, dolphins, Alaskan sea otters, seals and penguins. An additional 20,000 square feet will be used to debut a major exhibit on the Great Lakes.
Address: 1200 South Lake Shore Drive (on Chicago’s Museum Campus)
After exploring the oceans, visitors can gaze at the heavens at the nearby Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum The museum allows guests to lean back and relax as the Planetarium sky show takes them on a journey into outer space. The Sky Theater and StarRider Theater shows transport visitors to planets, moons, and distant galaxies, and cover the latest topics in space news. “Shoot for the Moon” opened in fall 2006 as the Adler’s newest permanent exhibit, following the life of Captain Jim Lovell and providing an interactive look into America’s plans to return to the Moon.
Address: 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive
Mummies, Egyptian tombs, Native American artifacts, dinosaur skeletons and more than 16 million other specimens for the fields of anthropology, botany, geology and zoology are on display at The Field Museum In May 2008, the DNA Discovery Center opened as the Field Museum’s newest permanent exhibition. The DNA Discovery Center features the state-of-the-art Pritzker Laboratory, the only facility in the world that allows visitors to watch DNA research up-close.
Address: 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive
Address: North Avenue & Clark Street
Address: 1601 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614