Brimming with a variety of hands-on exhibits, interactive museums in Chicago offer visitors the unique opportunity to engage with art, science, history, and culture. These one-of-a-kind spaces showcase everything from legendary athletes to sweet frozen treats to immersive art experiences. No matter what you’re interested in, there’s an interactive museum in Chicago for everyone.
Check out these must-visit interactive museums in Chicago.
Located inside the iconic Willis Tower, Color Factory aims to inspire visitors to discover and embrace artful wonder and joy. This vibrant immersive museum partners with creatives, art institutions, nonprofits, and brands to produce thoughtfully curated experiences for individuals of all ages.
Explore a wide range of whimsical installations and rooms, such as a St. Patrick’s Day-inspired green ball pit and a 1,500-square-foot maze based on Chicago’s iconic architecture. In addition, every visit includes sweet honeydew ice cream from local dessert shop Kurimu and colorful souvenirs designed by artists.
At the Sloomoo Institute, children and the young at heart are encouraged to experiment with soft, stretchy, and colorful slime. Play with dozens of different handcrafted slimes or even create your own custom design at the DIY slime bar. From pastel fluffy slime to see-through ooze packed with glitter, this hands-on museum features slime of all textures, scents, and colors. And when you’ve had your fill of slime fun, engage with kinetic sand, immersive CGI videos, and glow-in-the-dark elements.
Medieval Torture Museum
Tucked away in the Loop, the Medieval Torture Museum is ideal for adults with a morbid curiosity. Discover the chilling details of the darkest parts of the medieval period, all while examining more than 100 historical devices and tools designed for torture.
Every ticket comes with an audio guide, featuring dozens of stories from criminals and victims, recorded and performed by a professional actor. Additionally, brave souls can access the included ghost-hunting experience through an app to locate ghosts within the museum and hear their grim tales.
Experiential and provocative, WNDR Museum showcases dynamic, multisensory works of art. Thanks to a brilliant collective of designers, artists, and poets, this innovative museum in the West Loop merges technology and art to bring to life 20-plus interactive installations and exhibits. Highlights include Let’s Survive Forever, a breathtaking mirrored infinity room by Yayoi Kusama; The Wisdom Project, an ever-evolving community art project; and an LED light floor composed of hundreds of bright, motion-sensored panels.
Immersive Van Gogh
The Gold Coast’s historic Lighthouse ArtSpace houses the internationally acclaimed Immersive Van Gogh exhibition. Be mesmerized by vivid projections of Vincent van Gogh’s masterpieces, from The Starry Night to Sunflowers. Paired with moving lights and an enchanting soundtrack by Italian composer Luca Longobardi, the exhibit provides a sensational experience for art lovers everywhere. On select dates, visitors can take advantage of special events like paint-and-sip workshops, as well as mindfulness and yoga sessions.
Harry Potter: Magic at Play
Head to Water Tower Place to find Hogwarts and wizardry at Harry Potter: Magic at Play. Seek out the Sorting Hat to determine which Hogwarts house you belong in, then celebrate at the Butterbeer Bar with themed beverages and treats. Harry Potter fans can even drop by Hagrid’s hut before wandering the Forbidden Forest in search of a Patronus. Look forward to plenty of hands-on activities, from Quidditch training to wand practice and more, and share your adventures with a magical postcard sent by Owl Post.
At Willis Tower’s Skydeck, take in awe-inspiring views of the Chicago cityscape and up to four states. from the observation deck situated 1,353 feet off the ground. But first, learn about the history of Chicago through interactive games, immersive exhibits, and a kid-friendly scavenger hunt in their immersive first-floor experience. Ride an ‘L’ car through Chicago neighborhood, take a picture with a giant deep dish pizza, or tell a joke on the iconic Second City stage.
Museum of Illusions
Nestled in the heart of Chicago’s downtown, the Museum of Illusions makes the seemingly impossible a reality with fun visual tricks. At the intersection of entertainment and education, this interactive museum offers more than 80 mind-bending rooms filled with classic and modern optical illusions, from the Beuchet Chair Illusion to stereograms. Enjoy the visually stimulating holograms exhibit, and figure out how the laws of physics apply to the gravity-defying tilted room and vortex tunnel.
The first space of its kind in the world, Mindworks in the Loop is for anyone interested in the human psyche. Connected to the prestigious University of Chicago, this free museum’s interactive exhibits delve into behavioral science, exploring psychological ideas and concepts through hands-on experiences. Guests can even opt into studies that will help advance scientific discoveries around human behavior.
Museum of Ice Cream
The Magnificent Mile’s Tribune Tower boasts one of the sweetest interactive museums in Chicago: the Museum of Ice Cream. Hop aboard the Sprink-L line for an educational tour about ice cream, then make a splash in a grand pool overflowing with millions of sprinkles. Swing by the minigolf course for a round of putt-putt before treating yourself to the museum’s 14 dessert-inspired installations. As for the cherry on top of an unforgettable experience, indulge in unlimited ice cream, ranging from globally inspired flavors to dairy-free options.
Chicago Sports Museum
When it comes to hands-on experiences for sports fans of all ages, the Chicago Sports Museum is second to none. Considered a heavy hitter among interactive museums in Chicago, this 23,000-square-foot gem located in Water Tower Place serves as a high-tech playground for sports enthusiasts.
Shoot free throws, score goals, and throw curve balls with skill challenges and simulations. Visitors can even test out their grip strength, vertical leap, and more with exhibits that implement body-tracking technology. Plus, marvel at exclusive items and gear used by the greats, as well as the largest collection of memorabilia from the 2016 World Series when the Chicago Cubs took home the championship title.