Chicago History Museum

Take a stroll through time, with historical artifacts that explore the city’s rich and colorful history.

The 150-year-old Chicago History Museum features a mix of artifacts, hands-on exhibits and multi-media presentations that present a thorough overview of Chicago’s history. Stroll through the two floors and learn about everything from the Great Fire of 1871, to women’s suffrage, to the modern-day cultural scene. The bed Abraham Lincoln died on is here. You’ll also find ‘L’ Car No. 1, the first carriage from Chicago’s train system, built in 1892.

This museum has been at the south end of Lincoln Park since 1932, after the previous location was destroyed by fire. There are five permanent exhibitions and a rotating calendar of temporary collections. The popular exhibition Chicago: Crossroads of America is where you’ll find the “L” Car No. 1, preserved in its original condition. Examine objects from people’s homes that were burnt during the Great Fire of 1871.  The museum also has a wheel from the Eastland ship, which sunk in 1915 and killed more than 800 people, as well as a collection of Frank Lloyd Wright designed memorabilia. Every object has detailed explanations. 

The hands-on Sensing Chicago exhibition is designed with families in mind. Try  catching a fly ball at a mock baseball stadium and ride a penny-farthing. The Treasures exhibit showcases old-style cars and the bed Abraham Lincoln died in.

The Facing Freedom exhibition portrays the stories of various struggles for freedom throughout Chicago’s history through an interesting array of photographs and artifacts

Check the Museum website before visiting and leave plenty of time to explore any temporary exhibitions. If you want a more thorough overview, there are guided tours and audio tours, both free with admission.

It’s easy to reach the museum via car or public transport, and parking is readily available. The on-site café serves light lunch, such as salads and sandwiches, an all-day breakfast, and coffee and sweets. Pick up a Chicago-themed souvenir from the gift shop, including books and toys.

For more details on interesting local attractions and activities, check out our things to do in Chicago page.


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