It's the city's oldest cultural institution. Quite fitting considering it's the Chicago History Museum
. What began as the Chicago Historical Society in 1856 has grown into an incredible showcase for the city's past and is home to over 22 million amazing artifacts and documents.
See how the Great Chicago Fire changed the city forever. Explore the dazzling White City of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. Trace the paths of immigration to learn how it shaped the neighborhoods' diversity.
From Chicago Bulls basketball to Chicago politics, the stockyards to Wrigley Field, a lowrider to the first ‘L' car – there's so much to discover at this North Side gem located in the scenic Lincoln Park neighborhood.
Dive right in with exhibits that create multi-sensory experiences. Get out and explore the city through imaginative guided tours and events. Or check out what the museum offers just for kids and families. It's fresh and it's fun – history for the 21st century.
Since the founding of the Chicago History Museum, its ever-growing permanent collections have weathered fires, floods, building moves and major construction. All preserved and assembled for the sake of learning, discovery, creativity and of course, history.
Consider a research trip to the museum for closer looks into the collections, or see what is on display within the permanent exhibits.
The main, must-see is Chicago: Crossroads of America, an expansive survey of the city that takes you back to its founding and early history. Travel through themed galleries to gain perspective on Chicago's vital roles in commerce, industry and culture and see how this shaped modern America:
- City on the Make, which highlights the fur trade, Fort Dearborn and the Union Stock Yard on a journey from the pre-industrial era of Native Americans to the age of heavy industry
- City in Crisis, coverings events that not only affected Chicagoans, but captured the world's attention like the Haymarket Affair of 1886, the 1915 Eastland Disaster, the 1919 Race Riot and the Democratic National Convention of 1968
- Second to None, filled with artifacts that show off Chicago's innovative side, from model skyscrapers and Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass panels to Wrigley gum and a Schwinn bicycle
For families, a favorite interactive space is Sensing Chicago — where touch, see, hear, smell and taste are the name of the game. Uncover the past and present in a completely hands on way.
Kids can dive right into an oversized Chicago-style hot dog (and pile on the onions, pickle, mustard and other classic toppings in cushy, pillow form). Get a whiff of the Union Stock Yards, take a spin on a high-wheel bicycle, or pit thin crust pizza against deep dish pizza in a weight battle.
Other highlights from the selection of permanent exhibits include Facing Freedom, an examination of eight conflicts over freedom from the 1850s to the 1970s; The Secret Lives of Objects and The Dioramas.
PROGRAMS & EVENTS
Explore hidden Chicago gems by bus, boat, bike and walking tour – or take an even more adventurous route and tour by barstool, kayak or ‘L' train. Guided outings with museum experts take you across the city's neighborhoods and reveal their stories. There's a range of options for the history buff and something for everyone: check out historic watering holes on Chicago's Greatest Dives, walk among famous graves in Graceland Cemetery, or maybe stroll the Glitzy Gold Coast and be whisked to the golden era of the rich and famous.
Chicago's history is vast and colorful, and dynamic as ever. Go in-depth with engaging history-themed activities such as insightful lectures and seminars, unique special events, guided exhibit tours and films.
Plan your visit and after your Chicago History Museum adventure, explore more of the surrounding Lincoln Park neighborhood — home to a zoo and conservatory, beaches, shopping, theaters and great dining.