Discover Chicago's Museum Campuses

The downtown Museum Campus and its sister Museum Campus South in Hyde Park encourage fun, and educational, group exploration.


Chicago’s exciting Museum Campus is home to three of the city’s leading institutions, all conveniently located in one scenic location on the lakefront. Spend a day discovering the undersea world of the Shedd Aquarium, dinosaurs and mummies at The Field Museum, and spectacular galaxies at the Adler Planetarium. 

For an easy and unique way to reach the Museum Campus, hop on a Shoreline Sightseeing Water Taxi at Navy Pier, which lets you off right at the Shedd Aquarium. (Insider tip: you can snap amazing shots of the Chicago skyline from the deck of the water taxi.)


Beluga Whale at Shedd Aquarium Chicago

The Shedd is home to more than 32,000 aquatic animals, but the stars of the show are the beluga whales and Pacific white-sided dolphins that reside in the Shedd’s stunning Abbott Oceanarium overlooking Lake Michigan. In the underwater viewing gallery, watch the torpedo-like dolphins zip through the water and come face-to-face with a beluga whale. At the Polar Play Zone, young visitors can dress up as a penguin or play scientist and explore ice caves. Visit the Wild Reef, a recreation of a coral reef in the Philippines, housing menacing sharks, stingrays and live coral. The Caribbean Reef is a long-time favorite, where a diver feeds sharks, sea turtles and moray eels while talking to visitors. And don’t miss the 4-D Experience, where you’ll get up close to, and even feel, the action on the big screen. 

In the new special exhibit Underwater Beauty, see 100 eye-catching species from around the world, including sea jellies, eels and a rainbow of reef fishes. On Wednesday evenings throughout the summer catch live jazz bands, and enjoy craft cocktails, as part of Jazzin' at the Shedd. Groups of 15+ can book a visit online and receive discounted admission tickets.


Antarctic Dinosaurs at the Field Museum

Unlock the secrets of natural history at The Field Museum. In celebration of its 125thanniversary, The Field has unveiled Máximo the Titanosaur, a replica of the world’s largest dinosaur fossil (discovered in Argentina) that’s stationed in Field Stanley Hall. Máximo replaces the beloved SUE the T. rex, which will be moving to a new gallery in spring 2019. Explore the timeless mysteries of an Egyptian tomb at the Inside Ancient Egypt exhibit. Walk through the rooms of a 5,000-year-old tomb and discover fascinating hieroglyphs, see one of the largest collections of mummies in the United States, and wander through an Egyptian marketplace. In the Evolving Planet exhibit you’ll find the museum’s impressive dinosaur hall, with a vast collection of dinosaurs depicted in their natural environments. 

Through January 6, 2019, the exhibit Antarctic Dinosaurs follows Field Museum scientists as they carry out a harrowing expedition in Antarctica, braving extreme conditions to excavate and bring homenever-before-seen dinosaur fossils that deepen our understanding of life on earth. Groups receive discounted admission to The Field Museum, and can arrange for special docent-guided tours, programs and after-hours receptions. 


©Adler Planetarium

Explore infinity and beyond at the dazzling Adler Planetarium. Catch a show in the state-of-the-art sky theater, where you’ll zoom off into space to explore mysterious planets, swirling galaxies and brilliant stars. Check out the Mission Moon exhibit and launch a stomp rocket, get a peek inside the Gemini 12 spacecraft, and experience America’s first steps on the moon through the eyes of NASA astronaut Jim Lovell. Touch an actual moon rock and examine a meteorite that crashed to earth in the Our Solar System exhibit. Find out what the Adler’s scientists are up to in the working Space Visualization Lab, where astronomers give live presentations. 

The award-winning exhibit What is a Planet?, on view through August 18, 2019, continues the debate over Pluto’s demotion to a dwarf planet and explores the question of what qualifies as a planet. Adults 21+ are welcome to join Adler After Dark, held the third Thursday night of the month, featuring unlimited sky shows, live entertainment and cocktails. Groups should register at least two weeks in advance of their visit to the Adler Planetarium to receive discounted rates. 


Located in the Hyde Park neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, Museum Campus South is a consortium of museums, some of which are located on the University of Chicago campus. Highlights include the Museum of Science and Industry (the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere), the acclaimed DuSable Museum of African American History and Frank Lloyd Wright’s incredible Frederick C. Robie House. 


©The Science Behind Pixar

Spend the afternoon in Hyde Park exploring the mammoth Museum of Science and Industry, the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere. Nearly all of the 800+ exhibits here are hands-on, including a real U-505 German submarine that you can step into and explore; the long-time favorite underground Coal Mine; and Science Storms, which explores the physics of natural phenomena like tornadoes, tsunamis and avalanches. There’s also the Giant Dome Theater for kicking back and watching a movie. 

The Science Behind Pixaropen through January 6, 2019, is aspecial touring exhibit that gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at Pixar Animation Studios’ complex filmmaking process. See how some of Pixar’s most popular characters (including Buzz Lightyear, Dory and Sulley) are brought to life on the screen. Throughout the exhibit, visitors can engage in hands-on activities that allow them to experience the computer innovations behind Pixar’s process. The Museum of Science and Industry helps planners organize special group activities and tours.


Robie House

At the nearby University of Chicago campus, take a tour of newly restored rooms at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House.This stunning example of the architect’s famed Prairie School style is considered to be a forerunner of modern architecture, and features Wright’s gorgeous furniture and stained glass windows. Arrange for a guided group tour with a trained interpreter who will offer insight into the architect’s vision and the current renovation that is returning the Robie House to its original splendor.


©DuSable Museum of African American History

Finally, head to the DuSable Museum of African American History. The 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 historic artifacts. Reservations for groups of 10+ must be made three weeks in advance, with tours, treasure hunts and educational classes available.

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