Chicago is a city full of history, art, and culture — and you’ll find all those things in our acclaimed cultural institutions. This summer, the city’s museums are unveiling a slate of jaw-dropping exhibitions featuring everything from thought-provoking contemporary art to ancient artifacts. Here’s our list of just a few of the museum and art exhibits at Chicago museums that are worth a visit in summer 2024.

Unseen Oceans

Visitors experience and learn about a range of biofluorescent marine species with a towering display of glowing to-scale models.
Visitors experience and learn about a range of biofluorescent marine species with a towering display of glowing to-scale models; photo by Danielle Williams

Field Museum
Now open through Jan. 5, 2025

Embark on an ocean journey like no other. Unseen Oceans is an immersive new exhibit at the Field Museum that delves into the underwater world of the planet’s oceans, from sandy shores to deepest depths. Pilot a submersible, watch life-sized ocean creatures swim on wrap-around screens, and meet live critters like sea fish, jellies, and more.

Georgia O’Keeffe: “My New Yorks”

Art Institute of Chicago
June 2 – Sept. 22, 2024

One of the most famous American painters, Georgia O’Keeffe is beloved for her depictions of flowers and the Southwest. But lesser known are her works inspired by her time living in New York City. Georgia O’Keeffe: “My New Yorks” is the first art exhibit dedicated to O’Keeffe’s paintings, drawings, and pastels of urban landscapes, from still lifes to soaring skyscrapers.

Designing for Change

Chicago History Museum
Opens May 18, 2024

Explore the powerful slogans, symbols, and imagery that helped drive real social change in Chicago during Designing for Change: Chicago Protest Art of the 1960s-70s. The exhibit, on display this summer at the Chicago History Museum, will include over 100 posters, fliers, signs, buttons, newspapers, magazines, and books from the era that explore radical ideas on race, war, gender equality, and sexuality.

007 Science: Inventing the World of James Bond

Griffin Museum of Science and Industry
Now open through October 27, 2024

Dive inside the world of your favorite action films during 007 Science: Inventing the World of James Bond. Go behind the scenes to witness the science that powers the iconic cars, gadgets, and props of the iconic movie franchise. Design the perfect spy vehicle, see a prototype jetpack, and compete in interactive challenges.

Passion and Pride: The People of the Pullman Strike


Pullman National Historical Park
Opens May 11, 2024

The Historic Pullman Exhibit Hall will host this new exhibit, delving into the human impact and cost of the Pullman strike of 1894. Visitors to Passion and Pride: People of the Pullman Strike will learn not just about the history of the strike, which would forever change the labor movement, but the true stories of the people who lived through it via artworks, storytelling, and artifacts.

Level Up: Writers and Gamers

American Writers Museum
Opens May 24, 2024

Dive into the world of game writing at Level Up: Writers and Gamers, the latest special exhibit from the American Writers Museum. The exhibition will explore different forms of game writing, including role-playing and video games, and how they impact and respond to our culture. Part of the museum will be transformed into a gaming room for visitors to try different games.

Arte de La Borinqueña

National Museum Of Puerto Rican Arts
National Museum Of Puerto Rican Arts; photo by Abel Arciniega :: @tequilagraphics

The National Puerto Rican Museum Chicago
March 2 – Oct. 26, 2024

This collaborative exhibition with writer Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez uses comic book artwork to explore Puerto Rico’s history, address contemporary social and environmental issues, and celebrate the diverse Puerto Rican diaspora. Arte de La Borinqueña showcases the superhero graphic novel series starring an Afro-Puerto Rican superheroine.

Descending the Staircase

An exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Descending the Staircase, MCA Chicago. December 16, 2023 25, 2024. Photo: Shelby Ragsdale, © MCA Chicago

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Now open through Aug. 25, 2024

At the cutting-edge Museum of Contemporary Art, Descending the Staircase explores the human body through an artistic lens. Covering two floors of the museum, the exhibit pulls from the full breadth of the MCA’s permanent collection and bridges mediums and genres, from puppets to sculptures, the animate to the inanimate, new works to old favorites.

The Art Of Our Storytellers

DuSable Museum of African American History
DuSable Museum of African American History; photo by Abel Arciniega @tequilagraphics

The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center
Now open

The Art Of Our Storytellers: Selections From The Johnson Publishing Company Collection pays homage to Chicago’s Johnson Publishing Company, known for iconic Black magazines such as Ebony and Jet. The downtown headquarters boasted a vibrant art collection, with more than 150 works by African and African American artists. This exhibit features a selection of those works, including sculptures, paintings, lithographs, and more.

Health in Space: Daring to Explore

International Museum of Surgical Science
Photo by Ryan Robinson_Michael Robinson

International Museum of Surgical Science
Opens May 31, 2024

North America’s only museum devoted to surgical science presents Health in Space: Daring to ExploreThe immersive exhibition explores the effects of gravity, radiation, and isolation on the health of astronauts in space, presented through an array of authentic artifacts and engaging interactive activities.