While January temperatures are fluctuating between arctic and winter-temperate, it’s time to explore ‘indoor Chicago,’ starting with the ‘grandaddy’ of all natural history museums- The Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive, on Chicago’s lakefront Museum Campus. Chicago Bears fans will also note it as one of the closest parking spots to Solder Field.
It started at the Columbian Exposition…
Located in the South Loop, the museum is renowned worldwide for SUE, the towering, carefully recrafted T-Rex who greets two million visitors annually. However, the Field Museum started as a structure with artifacts displayed at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. As the museum website says, the Exposition “delighted visitors with 65,000 exhibits filled with natural wonders and cultural artifacts, many of which later found a permanent home in Chicago at the newly created Field Columbian Museum (located in Jackson Park).”
Soon after, Chicago businessman Edward E. Ayer, who would later become the museum’s first president, called deoartment store executive Marshall Field to solicit his support, and after some consideration, Field offered $1 million. Field’s contribution—plus contributions from other wealthy donors- helped purchase the first collections of what would become the Columbian Museum of Chicago, which included a natural history collection, the entire Tiffany & Co. gem display, a collection of pre-Columbian gold ornaments, musical instruments from Samoa and Java, and a large collection of Native American objects.
The fledgling museum also hired architect Daniel Burnham to design the museum’s edifice, and archaeologists, scientists and researchers, who traveled the world to bring back treasures and artifacts, which currently number nearly 40 million.
Today… Learn about the world, past, present and more…
Today, you can visit Ancient Egypt, or the world of Genghis Khan, or take the kids on an ‘Underground Adventure’…all in one day.
As a bonus, The Chicago Traveler calls the museum’s bathrooms “The best in the country.“ I’ll give them that! It’s right across from the in-museum McDonald’s, located on the lower level.. Best (and cheapest) souvenir for the kids: a Mold-O-Rama figure, made before their very eyes!
Free Days for Illinois residents in January
Starting Tuesday, January 10, the Field Museum is kicking off Free Admission Days for Illinois residents. All general admission exhibits are included. The museum also helpfully suggests that you use these days to check out special ticketed exhibitions or a 3D movie with a discounted Discovery or All-Access Pass.
An important note: Tickets for Free Days are only available to Illinois residents on-site. They cannot be reserved in advance. The Museum advises potential guests to “Ask a Visitor Services staff member for the special offer, and show your Illinois proof of residency.” Additionally, in accordance with the City of Chicago’s updated guidelines, the Field Museum no longer requires proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or masks for museum visitors. However, they say, “We strongly encourage all of our guests to wear masks while in the building.”
For more information about the Field Museum of Natural History, click here.
Happy 2023 to all!
Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago