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EXPLORE CHICAGO’S MUSEUM CAMPUSES

The downtown Museum Campus and its sister Museum Campus South in Hyde Park offer two full days of educational group exploration.

 

MUSEUM CAMPUS

Chicago’s amazing Museum Campus houses three of the city’s leading institutions all in one spot along the lakefront. Spend a day discovering the aquatic life at the Shedd Aquarium, the history of the natural world at The Field Museum, and the Milky Way and beyond at the Adler Planetarium. Here’s a Museum Campus hit list to add to your agenda.

Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium is home to more than 32,000 aquatic animals, some of which you can actually touch and interact with. But the stars of the show are the beluga whales and Pacific white-sided dolphins housed in the Shedd’s stunning Abbott Oceanarium, which show off during aquatic shows. A long-time favorite is the Caribbean Reef, a tank you can actually walk around to get a 360-degree view of the sharks, sea turtles and moray eels that swim by. And don’t miss the 4-D Experience, where your movie theater seat vibrates and you’ll feel water mist as you’re plunged into an underwater feeding frenzy on the South African coast. Groups of 15+ can book a visit online and receive discounted admission tickets.

Inside Ancient Egypt at The Field Museum

Unlock the secrets of natural history at The Field Museum. As you enter the grand hall of The Field you’ll be greeted by SUE the T. rex, the largest and most complete T. rex ever discovered. Then head underground and 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, discover fascinating hieroglyphs and see one of the largest collections of mummies in the U.S. If you’re a dinosaur fan, head to the Evolving Planet exhibit. Here you’ll find the museum’s impressive dinosaur hall, with a vast collection of dinosaurs depicted in their natural environs. The Field Museum offers special docent-guided tours, programs and after-hours receptions for groups.

Have lunch at The Field Bistro, where dishes like the Big Shoulders Burger and gourmet sausages are made using locally sourced ingredients. Be sure to try a frosty pint of Tooth & Claw, named for museum mascot SUE the T. rex and brewed by Chicago’s Off Color Brewing.

Adler Planetarium

Explore infinity and beyond at the dazzling Adler Planetarium. Catch a show in a 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, where you can 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 Adler Planetarium offers special group programs.

 

MUSEUM CAMPUS SOUTH

Located in the Hyde Park neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, Museum Campus South is a consortium of six 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. Check out these must-sees.

Museum of Science and Industry - Planes and Trains - Blog

Start your visit at the mammoth Museum of Science and Industry (MSI). Nearly all of the 800+ exhibits here are hands-on, including the real U-505 German submarine you can step into and explore; the long-time favorite underground Coal Mine; the Fab Lab, where you can make your inventions a reality; and the suspended Boeing 727, which takes you on a virtual plane ride. There’s also the Giant Dome Theater for kicking back and watching a movie. The MSI will help planners organize special group activities and tours.

Stop for lunch at nearby Medici on 57th, a 50-year-old Hyde Park neighborhood staple that’s frequented by local University of Chicago students. The combination restaurant, bakery and deli is known for its piled-high sandwiches and pizza.

Robie House

Hop over to the nearby University of Chicago campus to take a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Frederick C. 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.

 

Photos top to bottom: Shedd Aquarium; The Field Museum; Adler Planetarium; Museum of Science and Industry; Frederick C. Robie House; DuSable Museum of African American History

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