Chicago History Museum

The Chicago History Museum stands at the crossroads of America’s past and its future. If you live in Chicago or visit here and are curious about the city’s past, present, and future, the Museum should be your first stop.

Your History Lives Here

The Chicago History Museum cares for, showcases, and interprets millions of authentic pieces of Chicago and U.S. history. Our ability to illuminate the past is a reminder of what really happened once upon a time, sheds light on the present, and compellingly informs the future.

We invite you to engage with our stories and make history yourself.

Chicago History Museum

Address:

1601 N. Clark St.

Chicago, IL 60614

P. 312.642.4600

F. 312.266.2077

W. Chicago History Museum

Museum Hours

Monday–Saturday:

9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Sunday: 12:00 noon–5:00 p.m.

Admission

General Admission

Adults: $14 with audio tours

Seniors (65+): $12 with audio tours

Students (13–22 with ID): $12 with audio tours

Free for children (age 12 and younger)

Free for members of: Chicago History Museum, DuSable Museum, and National Museum of Mexican Art.

Admission includes two audio tours: 

Chicago: Crossroads of America, a tour developed with the Second City (available in English and Spanish) and In Our Own Words, a tour created by local teens (English). Ask for the audio tour at our Visitor Center.

Learn more about Chicago: Crossroads of America

Learn more about In Our Own Words

Illinois Resident Discount Days

Illinois residents can enjoy free admission to the museum during Illinois Resident Discount Days. Discount Days at the Museum in 2013 are: 

  • March – Tuesday, March 4
  • July – Friday, July 4
  • August – Sunday, August 10 – Tuesday, August 19–Thursday, August 21 – Tuesday, August 26–Thursday, August 28
  • September – Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of the month
  • October – Wednesday, October 1–Thursday, October 2 – Tuesday, October 7–Thursday, October 9

Become a Member of the Museum Today!

Free admission is just one of the many benefits of membership, which also include special members-only events, discounted tickets to tours and programs, a subscription to Chicago History magazine, store discount, and more.

Learn more about the benefits of membership

Parking

Public parking is conveniently located one block north of the Museum at Clark and LaSalle Streets; enter on Stockton Drive.

Cost: $9 with Museum validation; Visa, Mastercard, and Discover credit cards are accepted.

Accessibility: Specially located spots have been reserved for persons using mobility devices. Call 312.642.4600 for more information.

CHM Parking Map

Museum Dining: North & Clark Café

Stop by the North & Clark Café for breakfast, lunch, a snack, or a cup of coffee. Our affordable menu features regular selections and daily specials, so you can visit often and always try something new!

Specials

4sqsmaller

We’re offering a special on Foursquare! Check-in and receive a free non-alcoholic beverage with a meal purchase.

Internet

Free Wi-Fi

Hours

Monday through Saturday: 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Sunday: 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m.

Hours are subject to change.

Menu

The North & Clark Café features a diverse menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, items from the grill and more. Enjoy breakfast all-day, an assortment of snacks and delicious Intelligentsia coffee and tea. The Café also has a kids’ menu.

Download the menu (PDF)

Group Reservations

For groups of 10 or more, we highly recommend pre-ordering lunch. Learn more

Museum Store

Museum Store

Find the Perfect Gift Shop Now!

In the Museum Store, you’ll find books, DVDs, children’s toys,and more—all relating to Chicago and its history. Delve deeper into the magical White City with Expo: The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. Curious about the Lincolns? Take a look at Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided, which tells the fascinating story of the Lincoln’s life together, so drop by the store or shop online.

Specials

4sqsmaller

We’re offering a special on Foursquare! Check-in and receive $5 off purchases of $25 or more.

Hours

Monday through Saturday: 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Sunday: 12:00 noon–5:00 p.m.

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College Group Tours

College Group Trips: Chicago History Museum

See it. Hear it.  Walk it. Ride it.

Whatever method suites your group best, We have great tours that will bring you closer to Chicago and its fascinating stories.

Tours are available for groups of adults ages 18 and up.

gallerytours

Guided Exhibition Tours

See Chicago’s past and present from new perspectives with guided or self-guided tours.

Highlights of Chicago

Discover the city’s vast and colorful history on a tour of our permanent exhibition,Chicago: Crossroads of America.

Chicago’s World’s Fairs

Experience the grandeur of the magnificent White City of 1893 and the rainbow-colored oasis created in 1933.

Chicago’s Innovations

Learn about the city’s many innovations that have impacted American life, such as its renowned skyscrapers, modern retail practices, social reform and everyday products that have all shaped Chicago’s leading-city status.

Shalom Chicago

Explore the rich history of Chicago’s Jewish community and discover its lasting impact on the city.  From Maxwell Street and Lawndale to Hyde Park and suburban Skokie, Jews have helped shape the history of Chicago neighborhoods, religion, industry, labor, art and politics.

Group size: Minimum 10, maximum 50 people for permanent exhibitions, maximum varies for special exhibitions

Duration: 50–60 minutes

Cost: $14 adults, $13 seniors and students

Plan your group visit


Curators Guided Tour

Get a first-hand account from one of our curators about his or her vision of a current exhibition’s scope and its development.

Group size: Minimum 10, maximum 25 people

Duration: 60 minutes

Cost: Call 312.799.2162 or e-mail grouptours@chicagohistory.org

Plan your group visit


Self-Guided Tour

Learn all about Chicago history as you stroll through the galleries at your own pace. Audio tours of Chicago: Crossroads of America are available for $2 per person.

Group size: Minimum 10, maximum 100 people

Duration: 2–4 hours

Cost: $11 adults, $9 seniors and students

Plan your group visit


History Scavenger Hunt

How much do you know about Chicago? Test your knowledge with a scavenger hunt in the Museum. This tour is ideal for team-building or for a fun way to experience history.

Cost: $2 per person in addition to the self-guided tour fee

Plan your group visit

America Goes Dry

Monday through Friday; 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

The idea to control the consumption of alcohol was developing for nearly a century before passage of an amendment to the Constitution.  So what went wrong?  How did an idea meant to improve not just people’s lives but people themselves instead spawn an epidemic of lawlessness and violence?

Cost: Call 312-799-2162 or e-mail grouptours@chicagohistory.org

Group size: Minimum 10, maximum 55 people

Duration: 60 minutes

Plan your group visit


Gangland Chicago

Monday through Friday; 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Take a photographic tour of Chicago in the Prohibition era. The lecture features a host of historic images from the Chicago History Museum’s collection to tell stories of the Prohibition era in Chicago, including the growth of the temperance movement, Chicago’s bootlegging industry, the rise of Al Capone’s empire and his eventual downfall. It’s all here in black and white (photographs).

Cost: Call 312-799-2162 or e-mail grouptours@chicagohistory.org

Group size: Minimum 10, maximum 55 people

Duration: 45 minutes

Plan your group visit

Monday through Friday; 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Explore the city by motor coach with your very own guide.

Must have own motor coach transportation with sound system and seating for guide. Minimum of 20 people per tour.

Cost: Call 312.799.2162 or e-mail us at grouptours@chicagohistory.org.

Duration: 2-3 hours

Best of Chicago

Experience Chicago’s best, including our breathtaking skyline, architectural treasures, Magnificent Mile, theater and financial districts, and Millennium Park. This tour also available in Spanish.

Chicago’s Jewish Communities

The history of the Chicago Jewish communities began in the 1830s and by 1930 there were almost 300,000 Jews, almost 9 percent of Chicago’s population, living in Chicago.  Jewish history is one of arrival, growth, maturation, relocation, and dispersion.  Our tour of the Jewish communities includes various neighborhoods, religious, cultural, and charitable institutions.  Edward Mazur leads this bus tour of sites connected to the Chicago Jewish community.  Tours available Sunday through Thursday.

Chicago’s Ethnic Neighborhoods

Discover the city of neighborhoods and get a flavor for the richness of other cultures from Andersonville to Argyle Street, Chinatown to Greektown, and Little Italy to Lincoln Square, Bronzeville to Hyde Park and Southshore.

Devil in the White City

Imagine the grandeur of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 depicted in Erik Larson’s best-selling book as you tour sites from the Midway Plaisance to the Wooded Isle.

Graceland Cemetery

Uncover old Chicago as you venture through one of the country’s most beautiful cemeteries.

Chicago Politics

As the 2012 presidential campaign begins to heat up learn more about the city where politics is one of the most important industries. From Lincoln to Obama, Chicago is a hotbed for the presidents, hosting more party conventions than any other city.  Politics and controversies at the local city and state levels will also be discussed during the tour.

The Wright Kind of History

Frank Lloyd Wright perfected his Prairie Style here in Chicago, but this famous craftsman was well-known for his ego and tragic personal life.  View some of the spectacular buildings that played a direct role in all areas of Wright’s Life.

Capone’s Chicago

Take a tour through the Roaring Twenties and explore Chicago’s gangster past. Revisit the “beer wars.” Ride through Al Capone’s neighborhood and see the place he called home. Witness the site of Chicago’s most infamous and still unsolved gangland murder. With guidance from the experts at the Chicago History Museum you’ll discover Chicago’s authentic gangland history.

behind-the-scenestour

The Museum houses the largest costume collection in the world. Get an inside look at upcoming exhibitions, the storage vault and rarely-seen artifacts.

Available in Spring 2013

Group size: limited to smaller groups due to storage facilities. Minimum 10, maximum 12 people.

Duration: 40–60 minutes

Cost: Call 312.799.2162 or e-mail grouptours@chicagohistory.org

neighborhoodwalkingtours

 

May 1 through October 15

Tour the opulent mansions of the Gold Coast, or learn about Old Town’s colorful past.

Group size: Minimum 10, maximum 40 people

Duration:  90–120 minutes per neighborhood

Cost: $14 per person

Plan your group visit

Neighborhoods

Gold Coast

See the opulent mansions and elegant townhouses of the city’s wealthiest neighborhood. Learn about the historic Astor Street district and the area’s most famous residents, including the McCormicks, Palmers, and Wrigleys.

Old Town

Explore the architecture of one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. Founded by German immigrants in the 1800s, Old Town became a gathering place for hippies in the late 1960s. Today, it is a thriving artists’ haven, business district, and home to many young professionals.

Historyfromthelake

History of the Lake

Available June 1 through September 1

Cruise Lake Michigan and the Chicago River while you learn about the city.  Presented in partnership with Chicago  Line Cruises.  Presented in partnership with Chicago Line Cruises.   Private charter tours also available for groups of 20 to 200.

Group size: Minimum 20, maximum 100 people.

Duration: 90 minutes

Cost: Call 312-799-2162 or e-mail grouptours@chicagohistory.org

Plan your group visit

History Pub Crawl

Available this Spring!

Join us for a fun adventure in the city.  These tours take groups to four taverns and provide a unique perspective on Chicago history and the bars you visit.

Tours last approximately three hours and visit four taverns with 30 minutes spent at each bar. Drinks and food are not included in the price and are the sole responsibility of the client.  Due to the nature of the experience, tours must happen on Monday – Thursday afternoon/evenings or Saturday or Sunday afternoons (depending on sporting event schedules).  Participants must be 21 or older.  This tour only offered by trolley transportation.  4 weeks advance notice is required to book a tour.

Chicago’s Greatest Dives

Join us as we pour into some of Chicago’s best dive bars.  We’ll learn about the history behind each drinking den we visit and discover the history behind moonshine, bathtub gin, and other historic homemade concoctions.

Booze, Bars, and Bootlegging!  Prohibition Era Chicago

Find out what makes Chicago untouchable.   Get a taste of infamous speakeasies frequented by Chicago’s notorious gangsters like Capone, Moran, and Dillinger. On this trolley tour, learn how prohibition came to be, fascinating facts about the era, and how it ultimately shaped the city and its image.

Group Visit Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Download our Group Visit FAQ

How do I purchase tickets for groups of 10 or more?

We ask that you fill out a group visit reservation form. This form is available to download, or by calling the adult groups manager at 312.799.2162. Forms can be returned by fax or mail. For a self-guided visit, reservations can be made up to 3 weeks in advance. For a guided experience, reservations must be made 6 weeks in advance.

Download the Group Visit Reservation form

What is the group rate?

Self-Guided Exhibition Tours: $11 for adults; $9 for seniors (65+) and college students

Guided Exhibition Tours: $14 for adults; $13 for seniors (65+) and college students

Neighborhood Walking Tours: $10 per person

History Boat Tour: call for pricing

Step-On Guides: call for pricing

Can I get the discount rate if I walk-in with a group?

No, if you want the discount rate you must make an advance reservation with the adult groups manager. Otherwise, the general admission rate will apply; $14 for adults and $12 for seniors and college students.

Do you offer on-site food service?

For groups of 10 or more, the North & Clark Café offers pre-ordered boxed lunches.

Download the Boxed Lunches menu (PDF, 52 KB)

What is included in the guided experience?

A guided tour includes a trained docent that will lead a 50 to 60 minute tour of the gallery of your choice. Our docents are trained by leading historians knowledgeable about the city’s rich history and built environment.

How long should I plan for my visit?

The average visit takes approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours; longer if you are having lunch. Although there is seating throughout the museum, you can anticipate being on your feet for as long as fifty minutes and up to one hour while taking a tour.

How does our group check-in?

If arriving by bus, please pull up to the Clark Street entrance and proceed to the Visitor Center to check in with the receptionist. We recommend that your group remain on the bus while you handle any business transactions. There is a bus loading and unloading zone directly in front of the Museum, but this is not a parking zone. After your group enters the Museum, your driver must move to a designated bus-parking area. For more information on tour-bus parking, please call the Chicago Office of Tourism at 312.744.2400.

If arriving by car, parking is conveniently located one block north of the Museum at Clark and LaSalle Streets. Enter on Stockton Drive.

A complimentary coat check is located on the first floor. All large bags and backpacks must be checked. We suggest taking care of bathroom visits, coat check, and payment for your group, immediately upon arrival and before the orientation begins.

Can I take pictures?

Photography is allowed in the Chicago: Crossroads of America gallery and our public spaces and lobby areas. Please do not take pictures in our special exhibition galleries.

Where can I find lodging for my group?

To plan an overnight visit, please visit http://www.enjoyillinois.com.

Is the museum accessible?

All public spaces and most restrooms in the Museum are wheelchair accessible. A limited number of wheelchairs are available for visitor use; please give us advanced notice prior to your arrival if you require this service. A listening system is available on gallery tours. Please call 312.799.2162 for more information.

Family Trips

Family Trips: Chicago History Museum

See it. Hear it.  Walk it. Ride it.

Family Fun at the Chicago History Museum

Make the new Chicago History Museum your family’s number-one destination for fun. There’s always something new at the Museum to inspire imagination and satisfy young curiosities.

Our exhibition Sensing Chicago invites children of all ages to explore the sights, sounds, and smells of the city. Visit the gallery to:

  • Ride a high-wheel bicycle down a wood-paved street
  • Hear the Great Chicago Fire
  • Catch a fly ball at Comiskey Park
  • Discover history through your nose with our Smell Map
  • Be a Chicago-style hot dog
  • Create an oversized postcard of your favorite sights to post on the gallery wall or e-mail to a friend

Let your senses guide you to other exciting galleries in the Museum!

The Museum makes it fun for families to explore our exhibitions. In addition to our highly acclaimed children’s gallery, families are invited to participate in our History a la Cartinteractive gallery stations.

At the stations, kids and their families can:

  • Create, construct, and test their own Chicago-style bridges.
  • Use an oversized map, icons, and first-hand accounts to trace the path of the Great Chicago Fire.
  • Imagine the vastness of the pre-Chicago prairie and investigate the plants that used to grow here.
  • Play with a hands-on model of the John Hancock building to learn the history of the city’s skyscrapers.
  • Place historic photographs and souvenirs on a timeline to imagine a day at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.
  • Debate community issues and act out the city’s history on our front steps.
  • A variety of stations are available every day. The stations are facilitated by Museum volunteers and staff. Each takes about 20 minutes.

Find visitor information, including hours, ticketing, and location

Free Passes from the Chicago Public Library

Great Kids Museum Passports, which allow families to visit area museums for free, continue to be available at Chicago public libraries. Visit your local library branch or visit the Chicago Public Library website for more details.

Explore Chicago and Connect the City’s Past to Life Today!

My Chicago

Chicago is the third largest city in the United States, right behind New York and Los Angeles. It’s home to more than three million people. In Chicago, you can visit museums, see famous buildings like the Sears Tower, eat great food, and explore neighborhoods where residents live.

If you already know a lot about Chicago or if you’re just discovering this great city, play the fun games at My Chicago to uncover the city’s past and present and to express your own ideas. You can learn what the symbols on the Chicago flag mean and create your own flag, discover more about the Great Chicago Fire, build your own skyline, put together a World’s Fair puzzle, take a trip down the Chicago River, or write your own Chicago Refrigerator poetry.

Play at My Chicago

Upcoming Events

PreSchool and Kindergarten

School Field Trips: Chicago History Museum

The Chicago History Museum proudly presents fun-filled, content-rich experiences for students from pre-K to grade 12. Our free field trips align with state and national learning standards.

Book a field trip to visit our original exhibitions. Utilize an audio tour written and performed by local teenagers. Prepare for or follow up on your visit with Great Chicago Stories and our other online resources.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Chicago History Museum.

Your Field Trip Experience

What will my students do? What will my students see?

There’s a lot to do, see, and learn at the Chicago History Museum!

During field trips, teachers and chaperones lead their groups on self-guided experiences through the Museum’s exhibitions. We encourage groups to explore our galleries at their own pace and stop at student-friendly activities along the way.

Engaging Exhibitions for School Groups 

crossroads
Learn more about this exhibition

Location: Exelon Wing

Exhibition: Chicago: Crossroads of America

Explore Chicago’s changing economy, challenging crises, diverse neighborhoods, groundbreaking innovations, and lively cultural scene in six galleries.


Learn more about this exhibition

Location: KPMG and Paul and Katherine Snyder Community Gallery

Exhibition: Vivian Maiers Chicago

Through summer 2013

Come witness the life work of a nanny turned photographer that wowed the world with breathtaking images of everyday life in Urban America. Discover Chicago faces and neighborhoods of the 1950s and 1960s from an entirely new vantage point.


Slideshow

View a selection of Vivian Maier’s photographs on Flickr

Learn more about this exhibition

Location: Skyline Gallery

Exhibition: Magic

Through January 6, 2013

Discover Chicago’s place in American magic. Settle down in the object theater and meet Greta, a little girl who visits a wonderful store hoping to learn a magician’s secrets. Next door, explore a collection of magical artifacts and activities for young magicians that will inspired amazement and delight.


sensing chicago kids
Sensing Chicago

Located in: Konen Family Children’s Gallery

Exhibition: Sensing Chicago

  • Ride a high-wheel bicycle.
  • Hear the Great Chicago Fire.
  • Catch a fly ball at Old Comiskey Park.
  • Smell the city’s past.
  • Be a Chicago-style hot dog.

Did you know that history is beautiful, noisy, rough, stinky, and delicious? In this gallery, students can use their five senses to:

Recommended for grades 3 and 4. Due to the popularity of this gallery, special reservations for a 30 minute time slot are required. Please indicate your interest on the field trip reservation form.


diorama
Imaging Chicago: The Diorama

Location: Taiwani Foundation Diorama Hall

Exhibition: Imagining Chicago: The Diorama

Visit our beloved dioramas to experience the first 100 years of Chicago’s history. Hands-on activities challenge students to look closely at the scenes, find specific details, and put history into a larger context.


abe
Learn more about this exhibition

Location: Sanger P. Robinson Gallery 

Exhibition: Lincoln’s Chicago 

Catch a glimpse of the city Lincoln knew through portraits of his contemporaries and lithographic view of 1860s Chicago.


Abraham Lincoln

This exhibition highlights Lincoln’s election in 1860, his leadership during the Civil War, and his tragic assassination in a series of dramatic windows and audio narration.


Learn more about this exhibition

Location: Kovler Family Lobby

Exhibition: Unexpected Chicago

Through January 6, 2013

What’s the most surprising thing about a collection made up of millions of artifacts? A single artifact! This world-class collection holds the second largest costume collection in the world including clothing and accessories as well as thousands of linear feet of archives and manuscripts that make up the equivalent of forty-nine football fields or twelve Willis Towers. Unexpected Chicago is a way to reveal unexpected treasures of Chicago history a single artifact at a time.


Learn more about this exhibition

Located in: Benjamin Green-Field Gallery

Exhibition: Shalom Chicago

Opens October 21st. 2012

Explore the Jewish community’s rich history and contributions to the city’s growth and development, through personal stories, rare artifacts, and engaging multimedia presentations.


entrance

Exhibition: Treasures

This series of installations promotes exploration throughout the Museum!

  • Imagine riding low and slow in our custom-made, tricked-out 1978 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
  • Learn about Abraham Lincoln and see his deathbed.
  • Play Street Smarts, a game that challenges students to match events with the intersections where they took place.

Location: Skyline Gallery, Bessie Green-Field Warshawsky Gallery, and Mazza Foundation Gallery

Exhibition: Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair

Opens March 16, 2013

Relive the experience of the Ebony Fashion Fair in this one-of-a-kind exhibition. Explore its fifty-year history, and discover how Eunice Johnson overcame adversity to bring high couture fashion to African American communities, while raising millions of dollars for charities along the way. More than sixty garments, including works by Oscar de la Renta, Christian Dior, Stephen Burrows, Yves Saint Laurent, and Patrick Kelly, help tell the story of this world-renowned fashion show and its redefinition of American beauty.

Crazy for Trains logo

Crazy for Trains

Pre-K – Kindergarten Self-Guided Gallery Experience

Play in the past with two of our biggest artifacts: ‘L’ Car No. 1 and the Pioneer Locomotive.

Crazy for Trains discovery bags are available for use by teachers and chaperones during a Museum visit. The bags help young children explore transportation history through music, role play, and picture books. Use the field trip reservation form to reserve discovery bags for your group.

Each discovery bag includes:

  • One copy of Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo by Kevin Lewis
  • One copy of Freight Train/Tren de carga by Donald Crews
  • One conductor vest
  • One hole punch
  • Paper tickets for each child
  • Two sets of colored shapes
  • Song lyrics, poems, and pictures
  • Suggestions for how to use the materials during your Museum field trip

Download the discovery bag instructions, song lyrics, poems, and pictures (PDF, 1.2 MB)

Pre- and Post-visit Activity Guide

preKchristopherhouselarger

The pre- and post-visit activity guide includes four activities to use before or after your field trip to the Museum.

Download the pre- and post-visit activity guide (PDF, 676 KB)

Make a Reservation

Submit your 2014 field trip reservation online

Download the 2014 field trip reservation form (PDF, 4MB)

Download the 2014 field trip brochure (PDF, 4MB)

Download the field trip permission letter (32K)

School & Youth Groups Grades 1 - 5

School Field Trips: Chicago History Museum

The Chicago History Museum proudly presents fun-filled, content-rich experiences for students from pre-K to grade 12. Our free field trips align with state and national learning standards.

Book a field trip to visit our original exhibitions. Utilize an audio tour written and performed by local teenagers. Prepare for or follow up on your visit with Great Chicago Stories and our other online resources.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Chicago History Museum.

Your Field Trip Experience

What will my students do? What will my students see?

There’s a lot to do, see, and learn at the Chicago History Museum!

During field trips, teachers and chaperones lead their groups on self-guided experiences through the Museum’s exhibitions. We encourage groups to explore our galleries at their own pace and stop at student-friendly activities along the way.

Engaging Exhibitions for School Groups Grades 1-5

crossroads
Learn more about this exhibition

Location: Exelon Wing

Exhibition: Chicago: Crossroads of America

Explore Chicago’s changing economy, challenging crises, diverse neighborhoods, groundbreaking innovations, and lively cultural scene in six galleries.


Learn more about this exhibition

Location: KPMG and Paul and Katherine Snyder Community Gallery

Exhibition: Vivian Maiers Chicago

Through summer 2013

Come witness the life work of a nanny turned photographer that wowed the world with breathtaking images of everyday life in Urban America. Discover Chicago faces and neighborhoods of the 1950s and 1960s from an entirely new vantage point.


Slideshow

View a selection of Vivian Maier’s photographs on Flickr

Learn more about this exhibition

Location: Skyline Gallery

Exhibition: Magic

Through January 6, 2013

Discover Chicago’s place in American magic. Settle down in the object theater and meet Greta, a little girl who visits a wonderful store hoping to learn a magician’s secrets. Next door, explore a collection of magical artifacts and activities for young magicians that will inspired amazement and delight.


sensing chicago kids
Sensing Chicago

Located in: Konen Family Children’s Gallery

Exhibition: Sensing Chicago

  • Ride a high-wheel bicycle.
  • Hear the Great Chicago Fire.
  • Catch a fly ball at Old Comiskey Park.
  • Smell the city’s past.
  • Be a Chicago-style hot dog.

Did you know that history is beautiful, noisy, rough, stinky, and delicious? In this gallery, students can use their five senses to:

Recommended for grades 3 and 4. Due to the popularity of this gallery, special reservations for a 30 minute time slot are required. Please indicate your interest on the field trip reservation form.


diorama
Imaging Chicago: The Diorama

Location: Taiwani Foundation Diorama Hall

Exhibition: Imagining Chicago: The Diorama

Visit our beloved dioramas to experience the first 100 years of Chicago’s history. Hands-on activities challenge students to look closely at the scenes, find specific details, and put history into a larger context.


abe
Learn more about this exhibition

Location: Sanger P. Robinson Gallery

Exhibition: Lincoln’s Chicago

Catch a glimpse of the city Lincoln knew through portraits of his contemporaries and lithographic view of 1860s Chicago.


Abraham Lincoln

This exhibition highlights Lincoln’s election in 1860, his leadership during the Civil War, and his tragic assassination in a series of dramatic windows and audio narration.


Learn more about this exhibition

Location: Kovler Family Lobby

Exhibition: Unexpected Chicago

Through January 6, 2013

What’s the most surprising thing about a collection made up of millions of artifacts? A single artifact! This world-class collection holds the second largest costume collection in the world including clothing and accessories as well as thousands of linear feet of archives and manuscripts that make up the equivalent of forty-nine football fields or twelve Willis Towers. Unexpected Chicago is a way to reveal unexpected treasures of Chicago history a single artifact at a time.


Learn more about this exhibition

Located in: Benjamin Green-Field Gallery

Exhibition: Shalom Chicago

Opens October 21st. 2012

Explore the Jewish community’s rich history and contributions to the city’s growth and development, through personal stories, rare artifacts, and engaging multimedia presentations.


entrance

Exhibition: Treasures

This series of installations promotes exploration throughout the Museum!

  • Imagine riding low and slow in our custom-made, tricked-out 1978 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
  • Learn about Abraham Lincoln and see his deathbed.
  • Play Street Smarts, a game that challenges students to match events with the intersections where they took place.

Location: Skyline Gallery, Bessie Green-Field Warshawsky Gallery, and Mazza Foundation Gallery

Exhibition: Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair

Opens March 16, 2013

Relive the experience of the Ebony Fashion Fair in this one-of-a-kind exhibition. Explore its fifty-year history, and discover how Eunice Johnson overcame adversity to bring high couture fashion to African American communities, while raising millions of dollars for charities along the way. More than sixty garments, including works by Oscar de la Renta, Christian Dior, Stephen Burrows, Yves Saint Laurent, and Patrick Kelly, help tell the story of this world-renowned fashion show and its redefinition of American beauty.


History a la Cart

Engage with History

At History à la Cart stations, students to actively analyze and interpret the past. Facilitated by trained staff and volunteers, these 20-minute hands-on experiences are located throughout our galleries.

Great Chicago Fire Prairie

Grades 3–5

CHMFTBActivityfire The Great Chicago Fire

Use an oversized map, icons, photographs and first-hand accounts to trace the events of October 8–10, 1871, and collaboratively tell the story of the fire.

CHMFTBActivityprairie Prairie Landscape

Measure and mark the height and root depth of native plants. Imagine the vastness of the prairie through images and settlers’ accounts.

CHMFTBActivityskyline Skyscrapers

Imagine living in the famous John Hancock Center. Explore Chicago’s skyscrapers through improvisation and building activities.

CHMFTBActivityartifacts Artifacts

Discover objects through touch and discussion, then bring an adjective into the gallery and choose an artifact that matches it. Draw and write about your object, then share your opinion and find out what others think.

CHMFTBActivityneighborhood Sweet Home Chicago

Welcome to your new home in Chicago! Explore the exhibition Chicago: Crossroads of America, learn all about your city, and work together to create a Mad Lib-style letter about your discoveries.

Bridges Maps floor mat with compass

Grades 3–5

CHMFTBActivitybridge Bridges

Create, construct, and test bridges to discover how they work and why they are so important in Chicago’s history.

CHMFTBActivitymaps Maps

Map Chicago’s history on this one-of-a-kind gallery hunt. Use a compass and geography skills to connect artifacts to locations on a large, eye-catching map.

History à la Cart Schedule

For more flexibility during your visit, all stations are accessible on a first-come, first-served basis.

FTActivityStations

Pre- and Post-visit resources

Use our online resources to prepare your students for their field trip or as part of a post-visit wrap-up. These resources are easy to adapt for students of all ages and align with state and national learning standards.

Explore resources for your classroom

Plan your field trip. It’s easy and free.*

Plan Your Trip. It’s easy and FREE* To schedule your trip, complete our online form, or download and return the reservation form as listed below. Due to the popularity of school group visits, reservations must be made in advance and in writing. Your visit is not guaranteed until you have received a confirmation letter, which should arrive by fax and e-mail (or mail, if requested) in seven to ten days. If you don’t receive a confirmation letter, call 312. 642.4600.

* All Illinois school groups are admitted free of charge. Out-of-state groups are charged discounted admission. See the reservation form for details.

Planning Tips

Plan to spend two to three hours at the Museum including lunch. Visits begin at 9:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

  • Request 30-minute lunchroom seating (available for up to grade 8). Students bring their own lunches and beverages; storage provided.
  • Indicate the size of your group. Maximum group size is 120.
  • Secure chaperones. We require one adult for every ten students in grade 3 and above. For groups in grades Pre-K–2 we require a one adult for every five children. Each adult exceeding these ratios will be charged $7.
  • Divide your students into groups of 10 prior to arriving at the Museum. A map of the Museum will be prepared for each group leader.
  • Place medical supplies and emergency information in a small hand-held or shoulder bag (please note that backpacks are not allowed in exhibition spaces).
  • All Illinois school groups are admitted free of charge. Out-of-state groups are charged discounted admission. See the chart below for details.*

FTPricing

Standards Alignment

Field trips to the Chicago History Museum align with state and national standards for literacy, science, and social science.

History à la Cart activity stations

Exhibitions

Self-Guided Gallery Activities

Student Workshops

Make a Reservation

Submit your 2014 field trip reservation online

Download the 2014 field trip reservation form (PDF, 4MB)

Download the 2014 field trip brochure (PDF, 4MB)

Download the field trip permission letter (32K)

School and Youth Groups Grades 6 - 12

School Field Trips: Chicago History Museum

The Chicago History Museum proudly presents fun-filled, content-rich experiences for students from pre-K to grade 12. Our free field trips align with state and national learning standards.

Book a field trip to visit our original exhibitions. Utilize an audio tour written and performed by local teenagers. Prepare for or follow up on your visit with Great Chicago Stories and our other online resources.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Chicago History Museum.

Your Field Trip Experience

What will my students do? What will my students see?

There’s a lot to do, see, and learn at the Chicago History Museum!

During field trips, teachers and chaperones lead their groups on self-guided experiences through the Museum’s exhibitions. We encourage groups to explore our galleries at their own pace and stop at student-friendly activities along the way.

Engaging Exhibitions for School Groups Grades 6-12

crossroads
Learn more about this exhibition

Location: Exelon Wing

Exhibition: Chicago: Crossroads of America

Explore Chicago’s changing economy, challenging crises, diverse neighborhoods, groundbreaking innovations, and lively cultural scene in six galleries.


Learn more about this exhibition

Location: KPMG and Paul and Katherine Snyder Community Gallery

Exhibition: Vivian Maiers Chicago

Through summer 2013

Come witness the life work of a nanny turned photographer that wowed the world with breathtaking images of everyday life in Urban America. Discover Chicago faces and neighborhoods of the 1950s and 1960s from an entirely new vantage point.


Slideshow

View a selection of Vivian Maier’s photographs on Flickr

Learn more about this exhibition

Location: Skyline Gallery

Exhibition: Magic

Through January 6, 2013

Discover Chicago’s place in American magic. Settle down in the object theater and meet Greta, a little girl who visits a wonderful store hoping to learn a magician’s secrets. Next door, explore a collection of magical artifacts and activities for young magicians that will inspired amazement and delight.


facingfreedomtouchscreen
Sensing Chicago

Located in: The Naphtali ben Yakov Pritzker American History Wing

Facing Freedom

Inspired by the idea that the history of the Unites States has been shaped by conflicts over what it means to be free, the new permanent exhibition Facing Freedom, designed especially for middle and high school students, uses images, artifacts, and interactivity to explore familiar and not-so-familiar stories from the nation’s past. From a Civil War battle and the formation of labor unions to Japanese internment and a stand-off over American-Indian rights, the exhibition highlights some of the ways Americans have struggled to define the meaning of freedom.

Recommended for middle and high school students.


diorama
Imaging Chicago: The Diorama

Location: Taiwani Foundation Diorama Hall

Exhibition: Imagining Chicago: The Diorama

Visit our beloved dioramas to experience the first 100 years of Chicago’s history. Hands-on activities challenge students to look closely at the scenes, find specific details, and put history into a larger context.


abe
Learn more about this exhibition

Location: Sanger P. Robinson Gallery 

Exhibition: Lincoln’s Chicago 

Catch a glimpse of the city Lincoln knew through portraits of his contemporaries and lithographic view of 1860s Chicago.


Abraham Lincoln

This exhibition highlights Lincoln’s election in 1860, his leadership during the Civil War, and his tragic assassination in a series of dramatic windows and audio narration.


Learn more about this exhibition

Location: Kovler Family Lobby

Exhibition: Unexpected Chicago

Through January 6, 2013

What’s the most surprising thing about a collection made up of millions of artifacts? A single artifact! This world-class collection holds the second largest costume collection in the world including clothing and accessories as well as thousands of linear feet of archives and manuscripts that make up the equivalent of forty-nine football fields or twelve Willis Towers. Unexpected Chicago is a way to reveal unexpected treasures of Chicago history a single artifact at a time.


Learn more about this exhibition

Located in: Benjamin Green-Field Gallery

Exhibition: Shalom Chicago

Opens October 21st. 2012

Explore the Jewish community’s rich history and contributions to the city’s growth and development, through personal stories, rare artifacts, and engaging multimedia presentations.


entrance

Exhibition: Treasures

This series of installations promotes exploration throughout the Museum!

  • Imagine riding low and slow in our custom-made, tricked-out 1978 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
  • Learn about Abraham Lincoln and see his deathbed.
  • Play Street Smarts, a game that challenges students to match events with the intersections where they took place.

Location: Skyline Gallery, Bessie Green-Field Warshawsky Gallery, and Mazza Foundation Gallery

Exhibition: Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair

Opens March 16, 2013

Relive the experience of the Ebony Fashion Fair in this one-of-a-kind exhibition. Explore its fifty-year history, and discover how Eunice Johnson overcame adversity to bring high couture fashion to African American communities, while raising millions of dollars for charities along the way. More than sixty garments, including works by Oscar de la Renta, Christian Dior, Stephen Burrows, Yves Saint Laurent, and Patrick Kelly, help tell the story of this world-renowned fashion show and its redefinition of American beauty.


History a la Cart

Engage with History

At History à la Cart stations, students to actively analyze and interpret the past. Facilitated by trained staff and volunteers, these 20-minute hands-on experiences are located throughout our galleries.

Bridges Maps floor mat with compass

Grades 6 – 8

CHMFTBActivitybridge Bridges

Create, construct, and test bridges to discover how they work and why they are so important in Chicago’s history.

CHMFTBActivitymaps Maps

Map Chicago’s history on this one-of-a-kind gallery hunt. Use a compass and geography skills to connect artifacts to locations on a large, eye-catching map.

History à la Cart Schedule

For more flexibility during your visit, all stations are accessible on a first-come, first-served basis.

FTActivityStations

Enriching the Gallery Experience teenaudiotourlogo2

40-minute experiences for grades 6–12

Cost: 

$2 per iPod, advance reservation required

Use the online field trip reservation form to reserve the audio tour for your group.

In Our Own Words

Developed, written, and performed by Lake View High School students, this tour of Chicago: Crossroads of America features original interviews, vintage music, dialog, and dramatic readings on topics such as the Great Fire, Gangland Chicago, jazz and blues, and the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

You can download the tour to any MP3 player in advance of your visit. Download the In Our Own Words teen audio tour (40 MB) Alternatively, you can reserve the Museum’s iPods for use during your field trip: $2 per iPod; advance reservations required. Make a reservation Use the In Our Own Words teacher discussion guide—before and after your field trip—to expand on the topics, artifacts, issues, and historical arguments presented in the audio tour. Download the In Our Own Words teacher discussion guide

'L' Car and StudentsJazz ClubAudio Tour Teens

Enrich your field trip experience with these self-guided resources designed for use in the exhibition Chicago: Crossroads of America.

Middle School Students

These self-guided role-play activities immerse your students in Chicago’s history.

L Cards

Climb aboard Chicago’s first ‘L’ car and imagine riding home from a visit to the 1893 world’s fair in Jackson Park. Using character cards, students assume turn-of-the-century personas and engage their seatmates in conversations about their favorite parts of the fair.

Jazz Talk

Take a seat in the Jazz and Blues Club and use slang cards to step back in time and have a Roaring Twenties-style conversation.

Middle School and High School Students

Audio Tour: In Our Own Words 40 minutes.

Local high school students wrote and performed this tour, which features original interviews, music, and dramatic readings on topics such as the Great Fire, Gangland Chicago, Jazz and Blues, and the 1968 Democratic National Convention. 40 minutes.

You can download the tour to any MP3 player in advance of your visit.

Download the In Our Own Words teen audio tour (40 MB)

Alternatively, you can reserve the Museum’s iPods for use during your field trip: $2 per iPod; advance reservations required.

Make a reservation

Use the In Our Own Words teacher discussion guide—before and after your field trip—to expand on the topics, artifacts, issues, and historical arguments presented in the audio tour

Download the In Our Own Words Teacher discussion guide

Download the In Our Own Words teacher discussion guide

Pre- and Post-visit resources

Use our online resources to prepare your students for their field trip or as part of a post-visit wrap-up. These resources are easy to adapt for students of all ages and align with state and national learning standards.

Explore resources for your classroom

Plan your field trip. It’s easy and free.*

Plan Your Trip. It’s easy and FREE* To schedule your trip,  complete our online form, or download and return the reservation form as listed below. Due to the popularity of school group visits, reservations must be made in advance and in writing. Your visit is not guaranteed until you have received a confirmation letter, which should arrive by fax and e-mail (or mail, if requested) in seven to ten days. If you don’t receive a confirmation letter, call 312. 642.4600.

* All Illinois school groups are admitted free of charge. Out-of-state groups are charged discounted admission. See the reservation form for details.

Planning Tips

Plan to spend two to three hours at the Museum including lunch. Visits begin at 9:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

  • Request 30-minute lunchroom seating (available for up to grade 8). Students bring their own lunches and beverages; storage provided.
  • Indicate the size of your group. Maximum group size is 120.
  • Secure chaperones. We require one adult for every ten students in grade 3 and above. For groups in grades Pre-K–2 we require a one adult for every five children. Each adult exceeding these ratios will be charged $7.
  • Divide your students into groups of 10 prior to arriving at the Museum. A map of the Museum will be prepared for each group leader.
  • Place medical supplies and emergency information in a small hand-held or shoulder bag (please note that backpacks are not allowed in exhibition spaces).
  • All Illinois school groups are admitted free of charge. Out-of-state groups are charged discounted admission. See the chart below for details.*

FTPricing

Standards Alignment

Field trips to the Chicago History Museum align with state and national standards for literacy, science, and social science.

History à la Cart activity stations

Exhibitions

Self-Guided Gallery Activities

Student Workshops

Make a Reservation

Submit your 2014 field trip reservation online

Download the 2014 field trip reservation form (PDF, 4MB)

Download the 2014 field trip brochure (PDF, 4MB)

Download the field trip permission letter (32K)

Teachers and Educators

Educator Programs: Chicago History Museum

See it. Hear it.  Walk it. Ride it.

Professional development programs provide rich and unique experiences with history. Support your curriculum, network with other teachers, and earn CPDUs.

Please visit Educators Programs Page for More Information for Scheduled Dates and upcoming Event Programs

The Chicago History Museum’s classroom resources include curriculum for grades 1 through 12 and include both online and downloadable activities; lesson plans span a variety of topics and meet a range of state learning standards.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Grades 5–12

This group of four lessons examines key subjects and events in Lincoln’s lifetime. Each lesson includes high-quality reproductions of images and documents from the Museum’s collection as well as background information, analysis questions, instructional strategies, and extension activities.

Explore the Abraham Lincoln lesson plans

Download the history soundscape audio files

Download the history soundscape citations (PDF, 109 KB)


Catholic Chicago Resources for Teachers

stanselms

Grades 3–12

This resource originally developed for Catholic Chicago, a temporary exhibition on display through 2008 can also be used in the Chicago: Crossroads of America exhibition. Materials include a timeline with pre-visit activities, gallery conversation cards, and are designed for flexibility. They are a great way to explore the gallery.

Learn more about how to use these materials during your visit

Civil War

civilwar

Grades 3–12

As part of the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we have gathered all the Chicago History Museum’s online Civil War classroom resources together in one easy-to-use location. The resources are arranged by topic, so you can easily locate the perfect lesson plan to complement your classroom instruction. Choose from these seven categories: Slavery, Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation Proclamation, Black Soldiers, Abolitionist Movement and Northern Racism, The Soldiers’ Experience, and Photography.

Explore the Civil War lesson plans

The Encyclopedia of Chicago

imgencyclpedia

Grades 7–12

No research project is complete without this online resource, which includes A-to-Z entries, photographs with zooming capability, rich maps, interpretive digital essays, and a wealth of historical sources.

Explore the Encyclopedia of Chicago

Great Chicago Stories

imggcs

Grades 3–4, 9–12

Enrich your instruction with Great Chicago Stories, an award-winning suite of twelve historical fiction narratives and supporting classroom resources. Download the narratives and unit plans, which were written and classroom-tested by local teachers. Use the interactive history map to click on then-and-now images of locations from each narrative. Investigate historical evidence using question prompts and zooming tools. Listen to full audio recordings of all twelve stories.

Explore Great Chicago Stories

Grades 3–4

Grades 9–12

artifactkit

Grades 3–5

Put history into your students’ hands and ignite curiosity and critical thinking skills by developing your own classroom artifact kit. These lesson plans were written by local teachers who partnered with the Chicago History Museum on the project History Connections and Artifact Collections. Lesson plans and their corresponding artifact kits are grouped into seven topics. These materials may be downloaded, copied, and adapted for use in your classroom.

History Lab

imghistorylab

Grades 3–12

Inspired by the Museum’s collection, local classroom teachers wrote and tested History Lab lesson plans. They are grouped into 12 topics. Lessons from each unit may be used independently or as a set. Each lesson includes a lesson plan, student materials, and reproductions of artifacts and/or photographs from the Museum’s collection. These materials may be downloaded, copied, and adapted for use in your classroom.

My Chicago

imgmychicago

Grades 1–6

Explore the city’s rich and diverse history through ten award-winning activities based on the Chicago flag. Download the lessons and have your students use the interactive online games.

Tour My Chicago

Grades 7–12

Teen Chicago Council

The Teen Chicago collection contains one hundred oral histories about growing up in Chicago during the twentieth century. This collection was created as part of the Teen Chicago Project, a multi-year initiative expanding teenage involvement at the Chicago History Museum.

A fifteen member Teen Council was hired and trained to conduct one hundred interviews between October, 2003 and January, 2004. Among those interviewed are internationally known oral historian Studs Terkel, author Jodee Blanco, and hip-hop artist Kanye West.

The Complete Teen Chicago Oral History collection is available at the Chicago History Museum Research Center.

Download the Teen Chicago Curriculum Guide (794K)

Download the Teen Chicago CD (111M)

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Author: Stuspots

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  • crazyX

    this place is amazing, some really unique tours.. i attended the college tour, loved every minute

  • slamajamma

    haha…damn i love how the name was done.. the o’s in chicago show a description and a video… how the heck did they do that !!?? o.O

  • george

    i love, love this place, not sure if the museum itself is amazing or if im a chicago boy, but this place has some really interesting exhibits..like the gang wars back in early to mid 1900’s and of how america was trying to control the consmptio of alcohol.. really great stuff

  • jamie

    me and my lil sis love this tour, riding that bicycle was quite adventurous, lol especially since i haven’t ridden one in years