The cultural star of the city’s Far South, this museum was the first in North America to introduce interactive exhibits, with a record of innovative, hands-on displays dating back to the 1930s. More than one million visitors flock annually to this vast neoclassical building, which houses more than 800 exhibits and is a Chicago must-see, especially for families. Make sure you arrive rested, since it takes a whole day to hit just the top attractions.

  • 57th Street & Lake Shore Drive

  • 1 773 684 1414


  • Metra station: 55th/56th/57th

  • Open 9:30am–4pm Mon–Sat, 11am–4pm Sun

  • Adm.: adults $11,children (3–11) $7; including one Omnimax show: adults $17,children $12

  • DA

Museum Guide

The museum has two main entrances – the Great Hall (ground level) and the Henry Crown Space Center entrance (for the Omnimax Theater). Head first to tour-only displays – the Silver Streak, U-505, and the Coal Mine – as later in the day waits for these can be more than an hour. If purchasing Omnimax tickets choose a later time, when you’ll truly appreciate sitting down. Strollers can be rented for $2 in the Great Hall.

Great Hall entrance

The Brain Food Court serves above-average fare including wood-fired pizzas, and made-to-order salads and sandwiches.

Advance tickets reserved on the Internet or telephone cost an extra $2 each but are worth it on busy weekends.

Additional Omnimax tickets can be bought for $6 (adults) and $5 (children 3–11) at all museum entrances.

Top 10 Features
  1. Apollo 8 Command Module

    This, the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon, offers a genuine peek into the 1960s space race. The historic photos, space suits, and training module on display all help set the scene.

  2. The Great Train Story

    Thirty-four miniature trains race past skyscrapers, through prairies, and over the Rockies to the Pacific Docks on 1,425 ft (437 m) of track that replicates the 2,200-mile (3540 km) train trip from Chicago to Seattle.

  3. Walk-Through Heart

    A museum favorite since the 1940s, this 20-ft (6-m) tall model of the human heart would fit inside the chest of a 28-story person. Enter its chambers to see the marvel of human engineering.

  4. The Coal Mine

    Venture down a simulated 600 ft (184 m) in an authentic shaft elevator to discover how coal was extracted in the 1930s compared to today. The mini train ride enhances the underground illusion.

  5. Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle

    Star of the silent screen, Colleen Moore commissioned the design of this lavish 9-sq-ft (0.8 sq-m) castle and lovingly filled it with over 2,000 one-twelfth-scaled objects, including the world’s smallest Bible.

  6. All Aboard the Silver Streak

    Both Art Deco design aficionados and rail buffs alike are drawn to this streamlined, vintage Zephyr train with its ground-breaking diesel-electric engine. Onboard visits are by tour only.

  7. Yesterday’s Main Street

    A cobblestone, shop-lined street gives a taste of 1910 Chicago, with a cinema screening free silent movies and a traditional ice-cream parlor serving sweet treats at present-day prices.

  8. Omnimax Theater

    Films shown in this five-story theater make the viewers feel like they are right in the thick of the on-screen adventures. Films on a rotating program are screened about every 50 minutes.

  9. ToyMaker 3000

    Twelve robotic arms work the assembly line to produce toy top after colorful top in this display of computer integrated manufacturing technology. You can race a robot to see who can trace letters faster, and souvenir tops come gratis.

  10. U-505 Submarine

    Take a tour around this 1941 German U-boat: captured during World War II, it looks much as it did then, complete with an Enigma codebreaking machine.

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