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8 ETHNIC MUSEUMS TO EXPLORE IN CHICAGO

Discover the city’s history through its diverse ethnic museum collections.

Chicago is a melting pot, and there’s no better place to explore its history and the key role immigrants have played than the city’s fascinating ethnic museums. From Swedish settlers who came over on steamships to Mexican immigrants who infused the city with their vibrant arts and heritage, you’ll discover that Chicago’s tapestry is woven with many colorful cultures.

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MEXICAN ART

National Museum of Mexican Art

The renowned National Museum of Mexican Art is located in the heart of the Pilsen neighborhood, which is itself rich in Latino history. Wander the halls of this dynamic museum, and you’ll find a collection of more than 10,000 works that bring to life the richness of Mexican art and culture. Look for special cultural performances that include dance, music and theater.

SWEDISH AMERICAN MUSEUM

Brunk Children's Museum of Immigration

For more than 40 years, this museum has been a cultural touchstone in the Andersonville neighborhood, a traditionally Swedish enclave. The museum’s main exhibit, The Dream of America: Swedish Immigration to Chicago, explores the struggles and triumphs of the Swedish immigrant experience, and features authentic artifacts like passports and steamship tickets.

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF PUERTO RICAN ARTS & CULTURE

National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture

The only museum in the country dedicated to the arts and culture of Puerto Rico is located in Humboldt Park, Chicago’s proud Puerto Rican neighborhood. The museum is situated in a historic Queen Anne-style building that formerly served as horse stables in the late 1800s. Visitors enter through a dramatic brick archway and into a magnificent courtyard adorned with mosaics depicting the island and people of Puerto Rico. The museum presents rotating art exhibits, as well as arts and crafts workshops.  

NATIONAL HELLENIC MUSEUM

National Hellenic Museum Chicago

Located in the center of Greektown on bustling Halsted Street, this museum shares the stories and contributions of Greek immigrants to the United States. The four-story museum is home to an extensive collection of more than 17,000 artifacts that span thousands of years. The museum’s core exhibit, Reaching for the American Dream: The Greek Story in America, showcases photographs, personal accounts and artifacts that reflect the Greek-American experience.

UKRAINIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF CHICAGO

Ukrainian National Museum

Located in Ukrainian Village, the museum was founded in 1952 by two displaced scholars. It is recognized as having one of the most important collections of folk art outside of the Ukraine, boasting 10,000 objects, some of which were possessions brought to America by Ukrainian immigrants, These include richly embroidered textiles and festive attire, as well as an impressive assortment of Ukrainian Easter eggs. The fine arts collection consists of 500 paintings and drawings by noted Ukrainian artists of the 20th century.

THE POLISH MUSEUM OF AMERICA 

Polish Museum of America

Established in 1935, The Polish Museum of America in West Town is one of the oldest and largest ethnic museums in the country. Celebrating Polish history and heritage, the museum showcases an extensive collection of artifacts, including paintings and sculptures by Polish and Polish-American artists, objects from the Polish Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair and examples of folk traditions (including traditional Nativity scenes). You’ll also find exhibits on famous Poles, including Pope John Paul II and General Casimir Pulaski.

CHINESE-AMERICAN MUSEUM OF CHICAGO

Chinese-American Museum of Chicago Year of the Ram

Established in 1912, Chicago’s vibrant Chinatown is one of the oldest in the country. Enter through the ornate Chinatown Gate on Wentworth Avenue, the neighborhood’s “Main Street,” and discover the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago. Here you will learn about the experiences of Chinese-Americans in the Midwest. The permanent exhibit, Great Wall to Great Lakes: Chinese Immigration to the Midwest, chronicles the stories of immigrant journeys to Chicago.

DUSABLE MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY

DuSable Museum of African American History

This Hyde Park museum is named for Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, a Haitian of African and French descent who established a trading post and permanent settlement in 1779 that would eventually become known as Chicago. Founded in 1961, the DuSable’s collection includes 15,000 pieces, including African American artworks and historical artifacts.

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