Founded in 1893 as the Columbian Museum, this treasure trove of archaeological artifacts is one of the world’s preeminent institutions. With a library of more than 250,000 volumes and millions of stored objects, it is a world-class center of learning about the history of mankind. A major part of that collection is available to the public and it makes for much more than a dry, academic visit.
Those with an interest in Ancient Egypt won’t be disappointed. There are catacombs on display whose hallways were once trodden by Pharaohs and many of their mummies are on display. There are displays explaining how they lived and what happened to the servants after they died.
Kids will enjoy the dinosaur exhibit, with 40-foot monsters ready to pounce. The centerpiece of the collection is one named ‘Sue’, a 67 million-year-old sample whose discovery was an adventure all its own. The world’s largest T-Rex, she’ll fascinate kids of all ages.
In the Nature Walk, visitors will find over 500 samples of birds, mammals, and denizens of the sea. The amazing variety of species has been preserved in very lifelike poses.
Every kind of creepy bug you can imagine is on display, with a 20-foot giant replica that will delight kids, too. In the Underground Adventure, you’ll enter an area where you are the tiny creature and the bugs are elephant-sized. Kids can navigate their way through an ant colony and experience what it’s like to maintain the hive.
The mineral exhibit in the Earth Sciences section is equal to that in the famed Natural History museums in New York or Washington. Ranging from meteorite samples to $1,000,000 gems, there are more crystals on display than you knew existed.
The Hall of Gems is particularly spectacular, with over 50 kinds of precious jewels on display. Nearby is the Hall of Jades with dozens of samples from China of this green stone that has delighted queens and started wars.
Next door is the Plants of the World area where you can see what jungles were like a million years ago up to today. The displays are incredibly lifelike, even though they are all artificial.
In the Evolving Planet exhibit, you can find out how all those rocks, plants, and animals were formed as you learn about the way the Earth came to exist over 4 billion years ago. As part of the experience, you can discover how all those dinosaurs and other creatures evolved into the mammals we see today. You’ll also see how little the ants have changed over millions of years, only shrinking to the size where you are the larger of the two.
The museum is located at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive on the 57 acres of Museum Campus near the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium.