Stuck inside? Aren’t we all! As Chicago remains on lockdown, our city’s best and brightest museums have stepped up to the virtual plate with online opportunities galore. Gather the fam, get comfy on the sofa, and pay a (virtual) visit to Chicago’s always immersive museums.
Chicago’s beloved Field Museum stands as one of the world’s great museums of natural history. Thankfully, kids can online chat or text message the museum’s very own titanosaur, Máximo: Ask him what life was like during the Cretaceous Period, how he came to be at the museum, and even his favorite color or what he likes to eat. Send Máximo a message using the button on this page or text him at 70221.
The Art Institute of Chicago has digitized more than 40,000 of their masterpieces, so you can tour the collection from the comfort of home. A good place to start is with some of the museum’s essential works — zoom in to see each tiny dot in a A Sunday on La Grande Jatte or admire the brushstrokes in Monet’s Water Lilies. See the digital collection and explore more ways to visit virtually here. Newly homeschooling parents will want to pay a visit to the virtual classroom resource library for art-focused lesson plans and activities.
Bring the lab to your little scientist and spark curiosity and encourage exploration with the Adler Planetarium’s Let’s Do Science video series. Designed for families and educators, these engaging at-home experiments use household materials for fun hands-on, minds-on science activities. Experiments range from floating an egg in water to building a space-age lava lamp, and more.
Delve into Chicago’s rich history with the Chicago History Museum: Learn about the Great Chicago Fire, the life of Abraham Lincoln, the Haymarket riots, and the evolution of Chicago’s culinary scene. One of their coolest digital experiences is the Chicago θθ Project, which offers free virtual reality experiences of defining Chicago moments like the SS Eastland Disaster and the 1933 World’s Fair. Explore online exhibits, and check out the museum’s list of classroom resources that you can easily adapt for your newfangled homeschool curriculum.
Embrace your inner Indiana Jones by exploring a treasure trove of artifacts from the most ancient days of Egypt, Persia, Mesopotamia, Syria, and beyond at The Oriental Institute. The museum’s virtual tour lets you explore many of the objects uncovered during the University of Chicago-led excavations, from early pottery to a massive statue of King Tut.
The National Museum of Mexican Art is home to one of the country’s largest Mexican art collections. The museum’s staff and their families are finding creative ways to stay busy and entertained during the Covid-19 crisis and have compiled a list of their favorite activities to enjoy at home, including coloring pages, word searches, and even a tutorial on how to make papel picado.
Keep up-to-date on the daily lives of the Shedd Aquarium's animals on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; create learning experiences for early learners through their Sea Curious YouTube series; check out live views from the Underwater Beauty special exhibit, and dive deep with 360-video views to Keep Sharks Swimming, visit Shedd's penguin exhibit daily using the Virtual Reality Penguin Expedition tool and more.
Every day, even without a pandemic, Museum of Science & Industry has an Experiment tab on their website with games, videos showing a virtual tour of their massive submarine and of baby chicks being born in their Hatchery, and hands-on science experiments that can be conducted at home.
These non-profit institutions rely on membership and daily admission purchases in order to continue their rich programming. Please consider donating, purchasing a membership or paying them an in-person visit once the doors to Chicago are open once again. They all would appreciate the reciprocal support.
— Amy Bizzarri