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Engaging Exhibitions

During field trips, teachers and chaperones lead their groups on self-guided experiences through the Museum’s exhibitions.

We encourage groups to explore our galleries at their own pace and stop at student-friendly activities along the way.

Skyline Gallery, Bessie Green-Field Warshawsky Gallery, and Mazza Foundation Gallery

The 1968 Exhibit

October 4, 2014–January 4, 2015

Trace the events that changed the nation during this pivotal year, from the war in Vietnam to the flight of Apollo 8. Revisit the era’s battles for civil rights and the election of Richard Nixon. Enjoy the fashion, food, and sounds of the ’60s. Organized by month,The 1968 Exhibit highlights Chicago as host of the Democratic National Convention in August. Stories of tension and violence, confusion and anxiety form the core of this section of the exhibition. Visit www.the1968exhibit.org for educator resources and to join the conversation about the lasting impact of this tumultuous year.

> Learn more about The 1968 Exhibit

The Exelon Wing

crossroadsChicago: Crossroads of America

Explore Chicago’s changing economy, challenging crises, diverse neighborhoods, groundbreaking innovations, and lively cultural scene in six galleries.

> Learn more about Crossroads and preview exhibition highlights


Costume and Textile Gallery

Chicago Styled: Fashioning The Magnificent Mile

Opens November 15, 2014

Experience the glamour of North Michigan Avenue, one of the country’s most celebrated destinations for upscale retail. Set against the shifting cityscape of the past decades, Chicago Styled features twenty-six ensembles—including pieces by Gianni Versace, Christian Lacroix, Yohji Yamamoto, and Chanel. Together, these garments tell the story of the growth of this landmark district, showcasing remarkable fashion and the stylish people who wore it.

> Learn more about Chicago Styled: Fashioning The Magnificent Mile

The Naphtali ben Yakov Pritzker American History Wing

facingfreedomFacing Freedom

Inspired by the idea that the history of the Unites States has been shaped by conflicts over what it means to be free, the new permanent exhibition Facing Freedom, designed especially for middle and high school students, uses images, artifacts, and interactivity to explore familiar and not-so-familiar stories from the nation’s past. From a Civil War battle and the formation of labor unions to Japanese internment and a stand-off over American-Indian rights, the exhibition highlights some of the ways Americans have struggled to define the meaning of freedom. Recommended for middle and high school students.

Tawani Foundation Diorama Hall

dioramasImagining Chicago: The Dioramas

Visit our beloved dioramas to experience the first 100 years of Chicago’s history. Hands-on activities challenge students to look closely at the scenes, find specific details, and put history into a larger context.



Sanger P. Robinson Gallery


Lincoln’s Chicago

Catch a glimpse of the city Lincoln knew through portraits of his contemporaries and lithographic view of 1860s Chicago.

Abraham Lincoln

This exhibition highlights Lincoln’s election in 1860, his leadership during the Civil War, and his tragic assassination in a series of dramatic windows and audio narration.

Benjamin Green-Field Gallery

Railroaders: Jack Delano's Homefront Photography

Continuing through summer 2015

Explore the stories of Chicago railroaders during World War II as captured by photographer Jack Delano. The exhibition features more than sixty large images—including several early color photographs—of men and women who hustled on the rails, in the stations, and around the yards. Step into a caboose, play at a model rail yard, and discover Delano’s legacy through the work of his son, Pablo.

> Learn more about Railroaders: Jack Delano's Homefront Photography

Konen Family Children's Gallery

sensingchicagoSensing Chicago

Did you know that history is beautiful, noisy, rough, stinky, and delicious? In this gallery, students can use their five senses to:

  • Ride a high-wheel bicycle.
  • Hear the Great Chicago Fire.
  • Catch a fly ball at Old Comiskey Park.
  • Smell the city's past.
  • Be a Chicago-style hot dog.

Recommended for grades 3 and 4. Due to the popularity of this gallery, special reservations for a 30 minute time slot are required. Please indicate your interest on the field trip reservation form.



This series of installations promotes exploration throughout the Museum!

  • Imagine riding low and slow in our custom-made, tricked-out 1978 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
  • Learn about Abraham Lincoln and see his deathbed.
  • Play Street Smarts, a game that challenges students to match events with the intersections where they took place.

Kovler Family Lobby

unexpectedchicagoUnexpected Chicago

What's the most surprising thing about a collection made up of millions of artifacts? A single artifact! This world-class collection holds the second largest costume collection in the world including clothing and accessories as well as thousands of linear feet of archives and manuscripts that make up the equivalent of forty-nine football fields or twelve Willis Towers.Unexpected Chicago is a way to reveal unexpected treasures of Chicago history a single artifact at a time.

> Learn more about Unexpected Chicago

Unexpected Chicago is supported by a gift from The Jacob and Rosaline Cohn Foundation.

KPMG and Paul and Katherine Snyder Community Gallery

VivianMaierVivian Maier's Chicago

Continuing through summer 2014

For decades, Vivian Maier worked as a nanny for North Shore families. Loved by the children she cared for, she nonetheless kept a secret—she was a talented photographer. Only after her death did her work become well known. In this exhibition, discover her diverse photographs, which captured Chicago’s streets in unique ways.

> Learn more about Vivian Maier's Chicago

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