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, SUE, the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil ever discovered, and a cast of the largest dinosaur found to date? Read on to hear about the best exhibits and programs that inspire a curiosity about our world, past and present.

photo: Maximo via Maria Chambers

EXHIBITS


1Máximo, the Museum’s Newest Resident
Sue, the museum’s most famous dino, is getting a new exclusive home, while a cast of the largest dinosaur ever found takes up space in the newly redesigned Stanley Field Hall. Máximo, Spanish for “maximum” or “most,” is a nod to the titanosaur’s enormous size and Argentinian homeland. At 122 feet from head to tail, he’s longer than two accordion CTA buses end-to-end and his head peeks over the museum’s 2nd floor balcony (perfect for Maximo selfies).

2. Antarctic Dinosaurs
Can you imagine a day when Antartica wasn’t frozen? Before it was a land of snow and ice, it was once a lush, forested environment that was home to dinosaurs. Antarctic Dinosaurs takes you through dramatically different landscapes, starting with 255 million years ago to the extreme conditions expedition teams encounter there today. You’ll also lay eyes on two dinosaur species that are new to science.

3. 3D Movies
The Museum offers four ticketed 3D movies (for an extra fee): Secrets of the Mummies, Mysteries of China 3D, Museum Alive 3D and Antartica: On the Edge. Kids love these movies for the jump-out-of-your-seat visual effects and parents love them for the educational content.

Field Museum Undergroundphoto: Underground Adventure

4. 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.

5. 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.

PROGRAMS

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

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. Public 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. The schedule changes monthly, so refer to their online schedule or stop by the information desk on the Main Level for a full list of tours.

Field Museum Meet a Scientistphoto: 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
When you start to ponder the age old question — what to do with the kids this 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. Dates for 2018 are sold out, but check their website this winter for 2019 dates.

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.

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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.
Museum Campus
312-922-9410
Online: fieldmuseum.org

What is your favorite exhibit at The Field Museum? Tell us about it in the comments below!

— Maria Chambers & Wendy Altschuler