The Chicago History Museum is located at the bustling intersection of North Avenue and Clark Street, right on the southwest corner of beautiful Lincoln Park. Perfectly situated between the well-known Gold Coast, Old Town, and Lincoln Park neighborhoods, with Chicago’s lovely lakefront just minutes away, the Chicago History Museum offers visitors the chance to learn more about the rich past of this great American city. Guests to the Chicago History Museum will be able to explore a series of galleries and exhibits that present priceless artifacts, interactive displays, and educational content relating to Chicago and its important role in the ongoing story of America.
Chicago History Museum Background Information
The Chicago History Museum has its roots in the Chicago Historical Society, which was formed in 1856. Most of the Society’s initial collection was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, but since then the Museum has occupied multiple prominent locations throughout the north side of Chicago. The Chicago History Museum moved to its current location in 1932. This building has been remodeled, renovated, and expanded multiple times over the past nearly 90 years, but the Museum’s goal of preserving and interpreting Chicago’s history has remained the same.
Today, in addition to the many public permanent and special exhibitions on display, the Chicago History Museum contains a stunning collection of some 23 million Chicago-related artifacts ranging from photographs to newspaper clippings to all sorts of historical objects. Many of these items may be accessed in the Chicago History Museum’s Research Center, which is a tremendous resource for scholars and the general public alike.
What’s at the Chicago History Museum
The Chicago History Museum is home to a combination of permanent and temporary exhibitions that explore Chicago and American history. Popular permanent exhibits here include Chicago: Crossroads of America, which presents artifacts highlighting Chicago’s important role in the shaping of contemporary America (there’s even a “L” train car you can actually board!); Chicago Authored, which explores how the many writers who have called Chicago home have influenced the city; and Lincoln’s Chicago, which examines the relationship between the iconic president and the city he knew so well during his lifetime. And those are just a few examples of the sorts of rich, interactive galleries that comprise this fascinating Museum!
If you find yourself getting hungry during your visit to the Chicago History Museum, North & Clark Café is your on-site dining option. This airy, well-lit spot is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30am to 3:00pm, and on Sunday between 12:00pm and 4:00pm. They serve burgers, soups, sandwiches, Chicago-style hot dogs, and have an all-day brunch menu; there’s even a small patio area where you can also enjoy a glass of wine, craft beer, and/or a cup of locally roasted coffee.
The Chicago History Museum has a number of additional amenities that might be of interest and/or use to some visitors. A gift shop sells a nice assortment of books, apparel, posters, toys, games, and Chicago souvenirs. The Chicago History Museum is very committed to accessibility, too. Complimentary wheelchairs are available for your use at the Museum Ticket Desk, and many exhibitions on display feature large-print panels as well.
Tips for Visiting the Chicago History Museum
- The American Writers Museum is one of the included attractions on the Go Chicago Card. Drop by for a short visit after visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo. It’s also also included on the Explorer Pass but at $19, you wont save very much..
- The Chicago History Museum is open between the hours of 9:30am and 4:30pm on Monday and Wednesday through Saturday. On Tuesdays, the Museum remains open all the way until 9:00pm, and on Sundays its hours are 12:00pm to 5:00pm.
- The Chicago History Museum has its own parking garage, located just one block north of the main building. Parking there typically runs around $10 per museum visit, which is pretty reasonable for the area. However, the Museum is also easily accessible via public transportation; a number of CTA buses make stops in the general vicinity of the building.
- If you’re a resident of the state of Illinois and under the age of 18, admission to the Chicago History Museum is free. If you’re not from Illinois, but under the age of 12, you’ll also be able to enter the Museum at no cost whatsoever.
- If the weather is nice on the day of your visit, consider bringing a picnic lunch (or grabbing something to go from the North & Clark Café) to enjoy in Lincoln Park. There are plenty of beautiful places to eat in the nearby park—and Chicago’s lovely lakefront is just a few minutes farther away, too!
- In addition to the remarkable exhibits and collections housed here, the Chicago History Museum also organizes and operates a variety of special themed tours that run regularly throughout the city; example topics include Union Station walking tours, Pilsen murals walking tour, and a Civil War Chicago bus tour. If you think you might be interested in one of these special events, just check their online calendar for dates, times, and additional details.