5 Hidden Gem Museums in Chicago

Best Museums in Chicago

Chicago is a cultural destination. The city is full of places to visit and sites to see: the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier, the Art Institute, the Bean, Wrigley Field. However, there are plenty of places that aren’t as well known yet are still worth the time exploring. The next time you are traveling to the city of Chicago, add these museums to your itinerary.

American Writers Museum

American Writers Museum by wabisabi2015 via Flickr CC

The American Writers Museum is the only museum focused on celebrating the life and work of American writers. Walking through the museum, you will see great American poets, novelists, speechwriters, activists, and songwriters.

The AWM is a much more interactive experience than simply reading author bios or early editions of their works, however. Many of their exhibits offer digital engagement and hands-on offerings.

The museum even offers visitors the opportunity to become authors themselves by collaboratively writing a new story every day.

International Museum of Surgical Science

International Museum of Surgical Science by Jennifer Yin via Flickr CC
International Museum of Surgical Science by Jennifer Yin via Flickr CC

The International Museum of Surgical Sciences is the only museum in North America dedicated to surgery. The IMSS has over 7000 objects in its collection, some of which date back to the 1500s.

Exploring the museum, visitors experience beautiful exhibits containing different surgical instruments from around the world and fine art pieces depicting surgical advancements and events.

Just one visit to the museum will have you in amazement about how far surgical science has come while questioning, “Is this what they really did before?” at the same time.

Museum of Broadcast Communications

Museum of Broadcast Communications photo via FB Page
Museum of Broadcast Communications photo via FB Page

One of only three museums dedicated to broadcast communications, the Museum of Broadcast Communications will take you on a journey from the Golden Age of broadcast communication to today.

In the past, the museum has featured exhibits showcasing Saturday Night Live and rock and roll on television to great acclaim. If you watched Bozo the Clown and Svengoolie growing up or are simply curious about the inner-workings of the television or radio process, the MBC is a must-visit.

National Museum of Mexican Art

National Museum of Mexican Art photo via FB Page
National Museum of Mexican Art photo via FB Page

A gem in the Pilsen neighborhood, the National Museum of Mexican Art is worth the detour from downtown. This free-admission museum has one of the largest Mexican art collections in the country, containing paintings, sculptures, textiles, photography, folk art, and so much more.

If planning a visit in the late fall, be sure to check out their annual Día de Los Muertos exhibits and programs. While they are slightly different every year, the events and exhibits are constantly changing and expanding.

McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum

McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum
McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum

Located in a converted bridge house on the Chicago River, the McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum is five floors of discovery. This unique museum showcases the history of the Chicago River and the moveable bridges that connect Chicago together.

Climbing up the different levels of the museum, you will learn the history of the Chicago River before it was surrounded by skyscrapers, the history of the bridges that cross that river, and about Chicago’s relationship to the river today.

And if you are lucky enough to be visiting on specific days from April to November, you may get the chance to watch the bridges being lifted from inside this former bridge house, and it is spectacular.

Chicago is a city with well-known cultural destinations. The Art Institute of Chicago, Navy Pier, Wrigley Field, and the Field Museum are all places that are frequently visited but there are so many other places that are worth your time. Here are five Chicago museums that are hidden gems.

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