One of the crown jewels of Chicago’s acclaimed Museum Campus, the Field Museum is located near beautiful Lake Michigan, just south of Grant Park, right in the heart of Chicago’s vibrant downtown. This outstanding natural history museum is home to significant collections of fossils and artifacts from all over the world. It is especially well-known for its iconic dinosaur skeletons and Ancient Egyptian tomb replica. For generations families have found the Field Museum and its many exhibits to provide the perfect mix of fun adventures and educational opportunities.
The Field Museum History and Background
The Field Museum can trace its storied history all the way back to the legendary 1893 World’s Fair, as a significant number of the exhibits and artifacts on display during that famous event would go on to form the foundation of the Field Museum’s original collection. In the wake of the World’s Fair, local businessman Marshall Field donated $1 million to help establish a museum to house these exhibits and artifacts. In 1894, bearing its generous benefactor’s name, the Field Museum firsts opened its doors in the Palace of Fine Arts building—which today stands as the site of the Museum of Science and Industry.
In 1921, the Field Museum opened in its current location, just south of Grant Park. Today it is world-renowned for its collection’s holdings in the fields of anthropology, botany, geology, and zoology. Over 150 different scientists work in the various research centers run by the Field Museum, and nearly 2 million people visit the facility each year.
What’s at The Field Museum
The Field Museum is home to approximately 40 million artifacts, and even though only a tiny number of those objects are on public display at one time, there’s always a wide range of remarkable exhibits to explore here. Popular permanent exhibits include the Grainger Science Hub, the Cyrus Tang Hall of China, the Grainger Hall of Gems, and Inside Ancient Egypt. The Field Museum is also regularly home to a variety of special exhibits and spectacular 3D movies.
The Field Museum is world-famous for its Hall of Dinosaurs. There visitors can learn all about the history of dinosaurs while examining the Field Museum’s two most stunning dinosaur fossils: Sue, the most complete T.rex specimen ever found; and Máximo the Titanosaur, a 122-foot-long and 28-foot-tall dinosaur skeleton that now serves as the centerpiece of the Field Museum’s main floor hall.
While food and drink are not permitted throughout the majority of the Field Museum, there are multiple dining options available onsite. The Explorer Cafe is a casual, family-friendly option that serves a variety of snacks and lunches. The Field Bistro is a slightly more upscale spot. It specializes in locally sourced meals, and sells everything from salads to soups to burgers, as well as beer and wine. On weekends when the weather permits, The Field Green Bar and Grill is open on the northeast terrace of the Field Museum. If the weather is nice, it’s a lovely place to enjoy a drink or appetizer.
There are a number of other amenities available to visitors of the Field Museum. If you’re looking for a souvenir of your trip, there is a large gift shop on the main level of the Museum. Likewise, many of the Field Museum’s most popular attractions and/or special exhibits have their own dedicated gift shops. There is a coat check at your disposal, too, where for $3 an item you can check coats, strollers, and backpacks. The entire Field Museum features free public Wi-Fi service.
Tips for Visiting The Field Museum
- A great way to save money and time is to buy a Tourist Pass. Go Chicago Card, a Chicago CityPASS or a Chicago Explorer Pass all give you fast pass admission. Go Cards and Explorer Passes give you a modified Discovery Pass, giving you a choice of one optional activity: either the Underground Adventure or Cyrus Tang Hall of China. CityPASS includes an All-access pass, allowing you to see all the ticketed exhibits plus one 3D exhibit. More than once, I have seen people in line decide to buy a tourist pass once they realized how long it would take to get in.
- The Field Museum is open every single day of the year except for Christmas. Though its hours run from 9:00am to 5:00pm daily, it’s important to keep in mind when planning your visit that each day’s final admission time is actually 4:00pm.
- There is plenty of parking available throughout the Museum Campus area, including right near Field Museum. Rates vary depending on the lot/garage, but one thing is certain: it isn’t cheap. Consider taking a CTA bus or train, Metra train, or even biking along beautiful Lake Michigan if you want to save a significant amount of money on your visit to Field Museum.
- If you want to tour the Field Museum with small children, but don’t have the ability to bring along your own stroller, you can rent a single stroller for $3 or a double-stroller for $5.
- If you’re interested in saving some money during your visit to the Field Museum, consider bringing your own lunch or snack with you. The Field Museum has a pleasant designated picnic spot on its ground floor where you can eat while enjoying the atmosphere of the surroundings.
- The Field Museum regularly hosts a wide range of informative lectures, poetry readings, educational seminars, and other special events throughout the year. Make sure to check the Field Museum’s calendar of events online in advance of your visit to be aware of any can’t-miss happenings scheduled for when you are planning your trip.