We love Chicago not only for its’ deep-dish pizza, sports teams, charming neighborhoods and lake views but also for its’ family-friendly museums—namely, The Field Museum. Where else can your kids see gems and diamonds from around the world, human and animal mummies, meteorites, animal dioramas and SUE, the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil ever discovered? Read on to hear about the best exhibits and programs that inspire a curiosity about our world, past and present.
photo: Jurassic World: The Exhibition
1.Jurassic World: The Exhibition
The Field Museum is always the place to go when you want to gawk at real dinosaur fossils, but right now you can also see what it would’ve been like to walk among these breathtaking creatures in Jurassic World: The Exhibition. You’ll get closer than ever before with this exhibit filled with interactive educational elements that’s based on one of the biggest blockbuster franchises in cinema history, Jurassic Park.
2. 3D Movies
The Museum offers five ticketed 3D movies (for an extra fee): Waking the T-Rex 3D: The Story of Sue, Galapagos 3D and Egypt 3D: Secrets of the Mummies, Mysteries of China 3D and Museum Alive 3D. Kids love these movies for the jump-out-of-your-seat visual effects and parents love them for the educational content.
photo: Underground Adventure
3. Underground Adventure
Kids travel underground and shrink to 1/100th of their size to get a bugs-eye view of the world below in this mind-boggling exhibit. This adventure teaches kids how important soil and its underground bugs are to creating a healthy environment.
4. The Crown Family PlayLab
The Crown Family PlayLab was created with the knowledge that kids are natural scientists, always observing and testing the world around them. The PlayLab encourages kids to go wherever their innate curiosity takes them to discover the wonders of nature and learn about diverse cultures using creative play. They can dress up as an animal and star in their own nature play, explore a pueblo home to see how families lived in a different time and place, examine insects, play an African drum or dance to a Latin beat. The opportunities for self expression are endless.
The Field Museum offers an almost infinite amount of programs for educators, adults and families. Here are a few designed with little ones in mind.
photo: Dozin’ with the Dinos courtesy of Wendy Altschuler
5. Dozin’ with the Dinos
This is one of the best, well-thought-out museum programs because it allows for kids and caregivers to sleep over at the museum and experience exhibits as an insider. Imagine walking around in your pajamas and snapping photographs, with a background of dinosaurs, and then waking up before the museum opens to the public. This is an unforgettable experience for kids ages 6—12.
6. Sensory Saturdays
The Field Museum understands that some kiddos may have specific sensory processing needs in order to have a great museum experience. For that very reason, they open the doors to the Crown Family PlayLap one hour early, 9 a.m.-10 a.m. on certain Saturdays, so families can enjoy a crowd-free space. There are tactile opportunities and sensory tools to help ensure an enjoyable experience for all.
7. Discovery Squad
Every Monday and Friday, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., kids can get a sneak peak of the museum’s collection that is not on display. They’ll have the opportunity to ask questions, hold objects (animal teeth, bird specimens, fossils and more) and get an inside look at what makes the museum so special.
8. Cinema Science at the Music Box Theatre
Venture off Museum Campus and take your family to Music Box Theatre at 3733 N. Southport Ave. for a special film series screening that takes a look at the science behind a few famous Hollywood movies. You’ll have the chance to talk with Field Museum scientists and researchers post show and learn about these movies from a whole different perspective.
9. Free Docent-Led Tours
Now, this is a real treat—kids can view the exhibits with an in-the-know tour guide and ask questions about whatever pops in their heads. Every day at 11 a.m. you can meet your docent at the Information Booth in Stanley Field Hall and go on a 45-60 minute educational adventure. At noon daily, you can also join a 15-20 minute SUE Talk to learn about this famous dinosaur. In addition, kids can learn about the 1800’s home of the Pawnee Native Americans during a tour of the Pawnee Earth Lodge in an open-house forum weekdays from 10 a.m.-noon and again at 1 p.m.-3 p.m. p.m. On weekends, the tour is from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
photo: Meet a Scientist
10. Meet a Scientist
Another great free program, included with basic admission, is the Meet a Scientist opportunity on Fridays from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Kids can hold and see real artifacts from the museum collection and learn from real scientists about their research. This is just another example of how great this museum is and how they stay true to their ethos of inspiring curiosity and learning.
11. Summer Camp on Chicago’s Museum Campus
Once we round the corner into 2018, you’ll start to ponder the age old question — what to do with the kids this summer? Last summer, The Summer Worlds Tour put together a week of museum adventures — full of exploration, hands-on activities and games — for children in Kindergarten through fifth grade at Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium and, of course, The Field Museum. Each camp ran from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and costs $305 per person (discounts for museum members). Keep checking the website for summer 2018 plans.
12. Art and Science Spotlight
On the third Saturday of every month (11 a.m.-2 p.m.), the Crown Family PlayLab invites visitors to join in for special programs that bring storytellers, musicians, painters and other performers to the Museum to interact with your littles.
13. Free Admission Days
The Field Museum makes a visit possible for every family through Free Admission Days, which makes general admission free for all Illinois residents. They also offer discounted tickets for exhibits and programs.
Did you know you can also party with Sue on your birthday? Click here to get the scoop on throwing a party your guests — and the guest of honor — will never forget!
The Field Museum
1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.
What is your favorite exhibit at The Field Museum? Tell us about it in the comments below!
— Wendy Altschuler
featured image: Field Musuem