Chicago plays host to many various types of museums. We have the best museum in the world – The Art Institute of Chicago. We have the incredible Adler Planetarium, fun Shedd Aquarium, and educational Field Museum. But there’s so much more this city has to offer, with something for every unique taste!
Here are some of the most offbeat Chicago museums.
International Museum of Surgical Science
The International Museum of Surgical Science may in fact be one of the most offbeat museums in the United States – not just one of the most offbeat Chicago museums. This museum educates visitors through many various exhibits – some more macabre than others. You really have to see it to believe it, and most people who’ve gone give it a positive rating.
Busy Beaver Button Museum
The Busy Beaver Button Museum is a museum that connects collectors and history lovers. If you’re entranced by buttons, design, and the story behind them – you’ll enjoy an afternoon in this museum.
Museums Celebrating Cultural Diversity
Chicago is known as being a melting pot of cultures, and our unique Chicago museum selections are a perfect reflection of that. Here are some must-see spots:
- National Hellenic Museum
333 South Halsted Street, Chicago, IL
There’s something that’s just so interesting about Greek mythology and their polytheistic society. Indulge your own inner Greek history nerd at the museum, then check out nearby Greektown afterwards for delicious greek food offerings.
- Ukrainian National Museum
2249 W. Superior St., Chicago, Illinois
Set perfectly in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village is the Ukrainian National Museum. Their mission is to collect and showcase historic objects relating to Ukrainian immigration, especially as it relates to Chicago.
- The Dusable Museum of African American History
740 East 56th Place, Chicago, IL
Part of Museum Campus South (alongside bigwig Museum of Science and Industry), the Dusable Museum of African American History shares the unique experiences of African Americans through their exhibits.
A few other cultural Chicago museums:
- Swedish American Museum – Parking
- The Oriental Institute – Parking
- Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture – Parking
- The Polish Museum of America – Parking
Mini-Museums In Shopping Centers
The following are not museums in the traditional sense. They aren’t housed in a dedicated building. They may not be around as long as others on this list. At any rate, you’d be wise to check them out while they’re in vogue. All are conveniently located in popular shopping centers near Chicago’s downtown area (Block 37 and Water Tower Place)!
- Foodseum: Chicago loves food, so it was only a matter of time until we played host to a museum that focuses on our favorite subject. Foodseum rotates exhibits centered around certain types of food, and invites attendees to indulge in a multi-sensory experience.
- Chicago Design Museum: The Chicago Design Museum is a collaborative effort to connect Chicago design community members with themed exhibits. It’s a great place to spend time if you’re lacking in creative inspiration.
- Chicago Sports Museum: Officially a part of Harry Caray’s in Water Tower Place, you receive complimentary admission after a meal! There are so many interactive exhibits and photo opportunities – a great place for kids and sports fans, alike.
Museums with History
It would be a mistake to write a post about unique Chicago museums without mentioning the museums devoted to sharing the history of Chicago. The following museums will help you learn more about Chicago’s past.
- Frank Lloyd Wright Houses: There are several houses/buildings that were designed by architectural genius Frank Lloyd Wright, both in Chicago and neighboring Oak Park. OK, it’s not a museum, but it is history.
- Driehaus Museum
40 East Erie Street, Chicago, Illinois
The Driehaus Museum exists to preserve and promote architecture of the past. It’s a must-do for anyone with an interest in Chicago’s unique architecture and design.
- Hull House
800 S. Halsted Street (M/C 051), Chicago IL
The Hull House is a memorial to Nobel Peace Prize winner, and social reformer, Jane Addams. Besides being a museum, it’s a National Historic Landmark.
The Museum of Broadcast Communications
While not an incredibly offbeat concept for a museum, The Museum of Broadcast Communications has a great home in Chicago. Chicago has a lot of high-quality, award winning publications and mediums. A lot of museum reviewers mention the Johnny Carson exhibit as being their favorite. If you’re interested in learning more about the world of media and communications, you’d do well to check out this museum.
So Many Art Museums
In Chicago, we have so many institutions that promote the arts from many perspectives. Here are a few you may not have known about:
- The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art – Parking
- National Museum of Mexican Art – Parking
- Smart Museum of Art – Parking
- Loyola University Museum of Art – Parking
- Museum of Contemporary Photography – Parking
- National Veterans Art Museum – Parking
- Hyde Park Art Center – Parking
Ok, now that you have a full roster of amazing cultural, art, historic, and overall offbeat Chicago museum experiences to check out… what are you waiting for? Which one will you be visiting first?