History Museums in Chicago

THE 10 BEST Chicago History Museums

History Museums in Chicago

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  • Things to do ranked using Tripadvisor data including reviews, ratings, photos, and popularity.

What travellers are saying

  • Catherine C
    9 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Lots of thoughtful exhibits for anyone interested in the history of Chicago. I particularly enjoyed the (temporary?) exhibit on the Great Chicago Fire. I went by myself but there's a good section for families, as well.
    Written 15 April 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • msm
    21 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Guidebooks for Chicago all list the "big five" (the Art Institute, the Shedd, the Adler, the Field, and the MSI) but neglect this hidden gem. The University of Chicago's Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures (formerly the Oriental Institute) is physically small, but houses a major collection of artifacts from the university's many archaelogical expeditions.

    A friend and I both enjoyed our visit here and could have stayed much longer. For me, it was a second visit, but for her, the first. The museum suggests 2 hours for a visit, but my friend (who has a serious interest in the archaeology of the Near East) spent that amount of time on the first room alone. Be prepared!

    Highlights for all include the enormous reliefs in the Assyrian room, especially the 40-ton relief of a winged bull with a human head, the huge statue of King Tutankhamen in the Egyptian gallery, and the 10-ton bull's head in the Persian Gallery. When I last visited, there was a bench in the Assyrian room, and just sitting on it let me feel how impressive its enormous reliefs were.

    Although the building is small, the museum didn't feel cramped, and everything was laid out in a way that made the displays accessible. Among the smaller items, I spotted the fragments of tablets with the Gilgamesh epic easily, and appreciated the cylinders and small statues relating to the story nearby. I also found the cases with small amulets and scarabs fascinating.

    This is obviously a museum of special importance to those interested in history, archaeology, and/or the Near East. Depending on the children, it could be, though, a good place to take a family. Children may be bored by broken pieces of crockery, but would be amazed by the giant bulls. My first visit was when I was a teenager, and I found myself looking for the displays (like the amulets) that had impressed me decades ago.

    Admission is free, though donations are requested. The Institute is less than a mile from the Museum of Science and Industry, but walking between the two is probably not for those who don't know their way around Chicago. Limited street parking is available. We lucked into a spot close to the institute, but we had to wait a few minutes for its current occupant to pull out!
    Written 15 April 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • RegardsVal
    442 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    This museum on the edge of the campus of the University of Chicago was number one on my must-see list.
    It is larger than I expected, but the various subjects didn't seem to tie in with each other. I felt it was a bit haphazard occasionally, not as in-depth as I would have wished. Still, the displays were very interesting and I spent about 2.5 hours perusing everything. A coffee corner or restaurant would have been welcome, but there isn't one. Should you wish to leave some stuff in a cloak room, bring your own padlock for the lockers
    Written 2 November 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • vwfanforever
    Yorkton, Canada282 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Took in the museum as a huge Jordan fan I got to see a lot of items. It's disappointing to know this is the only place to really see tributes to the legend. Thankfully harry bought some of the merch. Highly recommend to eat the food and get free admittance.
    Written 15 July 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Bill B
    Bel Air, MD17,983 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    The Bridgehouse Museum is located in one of four classic structures that "guard" each end of the bridge on Michican Avenue as it crosses the Chicago River. Each structure is decorated with sculpture. Their height is deceptive at street level because Wacker Drive is elevated. The "house" on the east side of Wacker and Michigan contains the river museum that is entered at the lower level along the river. Unfortunately, it was closed today in preparation for upcoming Halloween festivities, but one was still able to enjoy the impressive structures. In fact, the evening before, they stood out even more sharply with all the night lighting along the river and streets.
    Written 20 October 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • kmz88
    Plon, Germany392 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    It's a small but nice museum. The people who run it are very friendly. They are eager to tell you about the culture and history of Ukraine, which is very nice. The museum is free. They do take donations. You will see and learn a lot about Ukraine. The egg collection is beautiful!
    Written 12 September 2021
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • muzique1960
    Woodridge, IL686 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Incredible house and amazing tour. Our guide gave us historical and architectural information about the house and the area. He brought the house, Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, and the owners to life. We learned much! Such a lovely area - worth the tour and to walk around, appreciating the architecture in this area of the Gold Coast.
    Written 5 May 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Lisa Johnson
    Fort Worth, TX180 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great authentic Chicago home. To tour is free but they request you go online and get a tour time set. Lots of antiques to look at. Two floors and the dining hall is a separate building.
    Written 14 September 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Mark L
    36 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Features single exhibits rather than museum approach
    Exhibit “Drawn To War” a comprehensive review of the career of famed WW 2 and later political cartoonist Bill Maudlin

    Good displays in pleasant bright airy space overlooking Michigan Ave and Grant Park

    In a stunning architectural gem, take time to check out lobby especially ceiling
    Written 30 June 2021
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • AvWriter
    Rochelle, IL871 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    We stopped in during Open House Chicago 2022. First off, access to this is on the NORTH side of the building, not the south side.

    Once you get inside, you'll be amazed at what they have. Anchors, a completed, detailed review of the Eastland ship disaster including pictures and analyses, and tons of boating stuff.

    The staff is extremely knowledgeable, and can answer any questions you may have related to the museum or the exhibits.

    We were very surprised about the amount of information that was available in the museum.

    Make sure you check out the gift shop if you are into boating - they had quite a variety of things that might interest you.

    Plan an hour to review this museum. Free parking on the north side of the building by the way. The entrance is towards the west side, and you go down to get to it.
    Written 17 October 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Debbie V
    Fort Lauderdale, FL30 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    The complete history of the Chicago Fire Department's tremendous and constant efforts to stop fires large and small is presented in this restored historic firehouse. See beautifully restored fire apparatus also. Plan your visit; open on the last Saturday of each month except December, from 10 to 2.
    Written 18 March 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • SteveAntpitta
    New York City, NY110 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    We went during one of the scheduled tours of the house. The tour guide was not available, but there was a limited number of audio tour devices.Latecomers could view the house's exhibits without the benefit of the audio, or wait for one to be returned. The story of the house, and the development of Chicago, is very interesting. It had been moved twice, and is now near where it was originally. The furnishings and decor are mostly not original, but are of the period.The grounds around the house are also lovely, with an interesting sculpture by Louise Bourgeois in the garden. The house is well worth a visit.
    Written 14 August 2019
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Michael W
    Chicago, IL3 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    The National Cambodian Heritage Museum in Chicago is a very good place to learn about one of recent history's terrible chapters, the period when Cambodia was ruled by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970's. A visitor can also learn a positive story, how the Cambodian people have rebuilt their culture that the Khmer Rouge tried to erase.
    Written 11 October 2019
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • robby-d
    Edinburgh, IN202 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    The Freedom Museum is no longer at the Tribune Tower. Back around 2009 or so, it moved out. It is now a road show with its home base at the Cantigny Park in Wheaton, IL. Both the Cantigny Park and the Freedom "Bus" are funded by the Tribune Foundation. I believe that the bus is available for schools, etc and will travel to wherever a group is located. I could be wrong so call the Cantigny Park in Wheaton, IL to get more info. I'm sure that they will stear you in the right direction. It gives a synopsis of some of the basic freedoms we enjoy by way of our Constitution.
    Written 22 January 2012
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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