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10 Best Museums in Chicago for Your Next Group Trip

August 25, 2022
By
Liz Arnold

Chicago may be known for its frigid winters and blazing summers. Still, there are one thing visitors to the Windy City can rely on even when facing the most adverse weather: our dozens of world-class museums, sufficient to keep anyone entertained and comfortable no matter their tastes or age. If you are looking for inspiration for your next museum charter bus tour, you are precisely in the right place. We feature a selection of the best museums in Chicago, which will never fail to wow your guests. The hardest part will be to choose only a few to show off our beautiful city.

#1. The Field Museum

If you only have time for one museum in Chicago, then the Field Museum of Natural History is an excellent choice. It is one of the largest museums of its kind in the world and features over 20 permanent exhibits covering 480,000 square feet. Although you could spend days discovering all of the treasures hosted in this grand building, we recommend planning for a visit of at least three hours. Some of the highlights of your stay will include skeletons of former greeter SUE the T-rex along with its replacement in the lobby titanosaur Maximo, Egyptian royal relics, and much more.

#2. Museum of Contemporary Art

Undoubtedly one of the best art museums in Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art features some of the most important works from artists such as Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, Jasper Jones, and Jeff Koons, among many others. The museum is run gallery-style, with individually curated exhibitions throughout the year. Each show may be composed of temporary loans, pieces from their permanent collection, or a combination of the two, guaranteeing that no two visits are the same. The building in itself, which was inspired by the city’s grid system, is a sight to behold for lovers of modern architecture.

#3. Art Institute of Chicago

chicago museum of art

The Art Institute of Chicago is also one of the best art museums in the Chicago area. You will undoubtedly need to make more than one visit before you exhaust the possibilities of what is the second largest art museum in the United States as well as one of the oldest, featuring a permanent collection of nearly 300,000 works of art along with special exhibitions. It is home to collections of art that span centuries and continents, ranging from Greek, Etruscan, Roman, and Egyptian artifacts to contemporary pieces from the likes of Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollocks, and Cy Twombly.

#4. National Museum of Mexican Art

The Pilsen neighborhood in Chicago is already recognized for its Mexican murals and culture, but it also houses the largest Latino cultural institution in America and is the only one credited by the American Alliance of Museums. The National Museum of Mexican Art presents over 10,000 pieces and covers 3,000 years of history, ranging from Pre-Cuauhtemoc Mexico to The Mexican Experience in the US today. Do not miss a visit to one of the best art museums in Chicago if you find yourself in the Windy City around Dia de Los Muertos.

#5. Museum of Contemporary Photography

With a collection of over 15,000 photographs and photographic objects, including gelatin-silver prints, color work, digital pieces, photograms, etc., dating back from the 1930s to today, the Museum of Contemporary Photography is well worth a visit for art lovers. It is recognized as one of the best photography museums in the Midwest. Housed on the Columbia College Chicago campus, it includes the work of some of the best photographers residing in the Midwestern United States, along with masterpieces by world-famous artists such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Irving Penn, Aron Siskind, and Margaret Cameron.

#6. Chicago History Museum

best museums in chicago

A stop at the Chicago History Museum is a must if your group includes history buffs or anyone interested in the rich and complicated history of the Windy City. Although their collections were destroyed by fire not once, twice (in 1871 and 1874), the Chicago Historical Society persisted and gathered nearly 600 objects illustrating 200 years of history. It features a permanent exhibit that explores the city's development and its relationship to and influence on American history, along with temporary exhibitions focusing on different aspects of Chicago’s past, present, and future.

#7. Museum of Science and Industry

The young and the young at heart alike will be delighted by a visit to what is, without a doubt, one of the coolest museums in Chicago. Housed in a building originally created as the fine art museum of Chicago for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition, the Museum of Science and Industry features a wealth of educational, interactive, and exciting exhibits. There, you may experience first-hand a full-size replica coal mine, a German submarine U-505 captured during World War II, a 3,500-square-foot model railroad, the command module of Apollo 8, and the first diesel-powered streamlined stainless-steel passenger train.

#8. Oriental Institute of Chicago

Transport your guests to faraway lands with a visit to the Oriental Institute of Chicago. Founded in 1919, it is one of the top Chicago museums for anyone with an interest in history. The Oriental Institute of Chicago houses an extensive collection of over 350,000 artifacts related to ancient civilizations from digs in Egypt, Israel, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran, many of which were excavated by the OI archeologists themselves. Some of the highlights of your visit will include a colossal 40-ton human-headed winged bull and a monumental statue of King Tutankhamun.

#9. Adler Planetarium

coolest museums in chicago

Get lost among the stars without leaving Earth in the first planetarium in the United States. Located in a picturesque location on the northeastern tip of Northerly Island on Lake Michigan with stunning views of the Chicago skyline, the Adler Planetarium is the best museum of Chicago if you want to learn more about the universe. It features interactive space science exhibitions (including the Gemini 12 space capsule), three theaters, and an extensive collection of scientific instruments and print materials. In addition, the Adler Planetarium is home to the Doane Observatory, a research-active public observatory.

#10. Chicago Architecture Center

The Windy City is renowned worldwide for its distinctive architecture and recognizable skyline. Some of the most celebrated architects of their times left their mark among the skyscrapers and public buildings which line the bank and the streets of this fair city. Therefore, anyone with an eye for architecture will be delighted to take part in one of the river cruises or docent-led walking tours organized by the Chicago Architecture Center (formerly known as the Chicago Architecture Foundation), which highlight some of the city’s most celebrated landmarks. No matter which one you choose, you cannot go wrong, and your guests will leave Chicago with an unforgettable memory of the city.

Conclusion

Make sure that your guests do not leave the Windy City without visiting one of the museums of Chicago. No matter their age, physical abilities, or interests, there is always an exhibit going on in the city that will pick their interests. From exquisite art to culture and science, the top Chicago museums are all within easy reach. If you are looking for more ideas to keep your guests entertained during their Chicago stay or would like to contact a Chicago bus rental company for easy transportation, we are here to help. Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or to obtain a personalized quote.

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