10 Must-See Chicago Exhibitions

March 2019

Chicago's internationally renowned museums burst with insight and inspiration, with a packed schedule of special exhibitions throughout the year. Here are just 10 of the highlights.


Through March 31

Museum of Broadcast Communications
360 N. State St.
(312) 245-8200
$20 for adults, $15 for seniors (65+), military and students, free for children under 12

SNL The Experience Museum of Broadcast Communications

Extended due to popular demand! Go behind the scenes of one of the most iconic televisions shows in history. This immersive exhibit unveils how SNL comes together each week, from the fast-paced creative process to production and design. Interact with more than 500 artifacts, including classic set pieces (like the Wayne’s World couch), costumes from your favorite characters, a replica of Studio 8H and more.

2. Scientific Sketches and Subsurface Scattering: Capturing the Beauty Within

Open through March 21

International Museum of Surgical Science
1524 N. Lake Shore Drive
(312) 642-6502
$17 for adults; $13 for seniors (65+), students, military and teachers; $9 for children ages 4 - 13

Surgical Science Music Exhibit
Logan Weihe​

Art and science come together in this fascinating contemporary exhibit. Students from the Biomedical Visualization Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago have harnessed advances in computer graphics to create detailed images of the human body that are both visually captivating and scientifically accurate. These works are a crucial part of communicating new discoveries in science and medicine.

3. Stateless: Views of Global Migration

Open through March 31

Museum of Contemporary Photography
600 S. Michigan Ave.
(312) 663-5554
Free admission

A photo from Stateless at Museum of Contemporary Photography
Omar Imam, Live, Love, Refugee​

Amid a global refugee crisis, Stateless seeks to shed light on individuals among the vast numbers forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. Through photographs from eight contemporary artists, these powerful works unveil resilience in the face of turmoil and explore the powerful connection to a homeland, even when you can’t return.

4. Mummies


Field Museum
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive
(312) 922-9410
General admission: $24 for adults, $17 for children

Mummies at the Field Museum
Courtesy the Field Museum

Learn about ancient life through cutting-edge technology that peels back the layers of time. This limited-time exhibit explores mummies from ancient Peru and Egypt and the lives those people lived. Using non-invasive scanning technology, scientists have been able to digitally unveil the stories hidden inside the gilded coffins. Explore these stories with interactive displays and dozens of objects, including mummy masks, intricate tombs, mummified animals and more.

5. A New View of African Art

Now open

Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave.
(312) 443-3600
General admission: $25; Thursdays free admission for Illinois residents

Art Institute Africa Exhibit

Our understanding of art and culture can shift over time. With that in mind, the Art Institute of Chicago presents a newly reimagined and reinstalled gallery of African art. The new display still celebrates the vast diversity of the continent’s art, but explores the works through a new lens. Interactive elements provide deeper context and major acquisitions, along with loaned items from the Field Museum, offer a fresh perspective. A brand new audio tour guides visitors through the experience.

6. Dimensions of Citizenship: Architecture & Belonging

Through April 27

Wrightwood 659
659 W. Wrightwood Ave.
(773) 437-6601
General admission $20, limited complimentary reservations available; online reservations required.

An exhibit at Wrightwood 659

On view for the first time in the U.S., this exhibit explores the concepts of modern citizenship, and how it intersects architecture and designs. The exhibit was originally displayed as the official U.S. entry in the International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale.

7. Thomas D. Mangelsen — A Life in the Wild

Through June 2

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 N. Cannon Drive
(773) 755-5100
$9 for adults; $7 for students and seniors (60+); $6 for children ages 3 - 12; Free for children under 3

Mangelsen photo from Nature Museum
Catch of the Day (1988) ©Thomas D. Mangelsen​

During his 40 year career, renowned wildlife photography Thomas D. Mangelsen has amassed millions of images of animals and landscapes. This exhibit showcases some of his most iconic images, from startling moments to vast panoramas, across all seven continents. Each image was captured under natural conditions without digital manipulation, making them all the more breathtaking.

8. Chicago! The Play, The Movies, The Musical...The Murders

Open through July 28

Chicago Cultural Center
78 E Washington St
Free admission

Chicago! Musical Exhibit
Courtesy City of Chicago

You've seen the musical — now get a look behind the scenes. This Year of Chicago Theatre exhibit examines the evolution of the Broadway hit and the real-life Chicago murders that inspired it.

9. Open Access Behind-the-Scenes of the Permanent Collection

Open through July 28

National Museum of Mexican Art
852 W. 19th St.
(312) 738-1503

National Museum of Mexican Art Chicago

What happens behind-the-scenes at a museum? This living exhibit gives visitors a rare inside look at the inner workings of the museum’s staff and permanent collection at the National Museum of Mexican Art.

10. Imagine the Moon

Now showing

Adler Planetarium
1300 S. Lake Shore Drive
(312) 724-2927
Museum entry & sky show: $24.95 for adults, $19.95 for children age 3 - 11

Sky show at Adler Planetarium

The planetarium’s brand new sky show promises to show the moon in a whole new light. The show will explore how the moon has captivated and inspired generations of stargazers. Playing in their state-of-the-art theater, the stunning domed screen creates a truly immersive experience. The show is included with an all-access pass to the Adler Planetarium.

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