Musings of a Museum Fanatic: Chicago History Museum

7.12.2013

Chicago History Museum

Without a doubt one of my top five favorite Chicago area museums is definitely the Chicago History Museum.  Opened in 1856 it's touted as the oldest cultural institution in the city.  Unfortunately thanks to the Great Chicago Fire and then a second one a few years later most of the original collection was destroyed.  Years of collecting along with some fabulous purchases for the collection, including the 1920 purchase of the bed Lincoln died in, have turned their collection into a world class one.

Low rider right when walk into the museum
One of my absolute favorite parts of the Chicago History Museum is the permanent exhibit, Chicago: Crossroads of America.  The first thing you see when you walk into the space is the large locomotive and the "L" car.  For those who haven't been to Chicago and wondered what an "L" is it's the eLevated train that runs throughout the city.  While a fabulous way to get around be prepared for crazies but that's a whole other post!  This particular "L" car was from the time of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 and they do a fabulous job telling stories of real people who attended the Exposition.  

In addition to the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 the Chicago: Crossroads of America goes through the entire history of Chicago from Fort Dearborn to Al Capone to stories from current residents in Chicago diverse neighborhoods.  Downstairs is one of people's favorite exhibits, the Dioramas.  Recently restored they take you through Chicago history from 1804 to present in such extreme detail it's amazing. 

The Great Fire of 1871.  This photo doesn't do the detail justice!

Not only does the Chicago History Museum have amazing permanent exhibitions but they always have multiple temporary exhibitions that wow.  During my last visit these included Shalom Chicago along with photo exhibit Vivian Maier's Chicago.  One of my favorite temporary exhibits is always one that involves the costume collection of the Chicago History Museum.  They are known around the world for their extensive and fabulous costume collection.  

I would definitely suggest a visit here if you're in town.  It is a bit out of the loop but there are multiple buses that will get you right outside the door or a few blocks away along with taking the "L" Purple line (and a little walking!).  With the adult price of $14, discounted prices for students and seniors and kids under 12 getting in free, with admission including two audio tours, this is a great price.  You're also right at the edge of Lincoln Park and the Lincoln Park neighborhood with it's many different restaurants and shopping options making a day out of your visit to the Chicago History Museum.



My friend Tim & I the last day of our internship at CHM.  We're standing in front of the old part of the building.

I have an awesome picture of myself as a Chicago style hotdog from the children exhibit but we can't find my darn hard drive.  I will keep looking so I can share that picture with you next week. : )

Have a fabulous weekend!

2 comments

  1. So, I'm embarrassed to admit that I've lived in the Chicago-land area for over a decade and have never been or even heard of the Chicago history museum!! It sounds amazing! And I totally LOVE dioramas...like I could look at them all day! This is totally going on my summer bucket list :) Thanks for sharing!

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  2. i cannot imagine living through the great chicago fire! It is so crazy!

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