Have you ever heard of a museum dedicated to the fictional superhero Superman? How about a museum that is the first and only one of its kind for African-American children? These are just some of Illinois’ most interesting museums that you’ve probably never heard of but definitely should know.
These museums offer unique cultural and historical experiences that stretch beyond the offerings of larger more popular institutions. Instead, they offer a unique and engaging experience for every kind of museum lover.
Check out the list below and add one of these interesting museums to your bucket list!
Medieval Torture Museum
Test your courage and historical knowledge at The Medieval Torture Museum. The full immersive space is the largest interactive historical museum of it is kind in the US. From torture chambers to instruments of slow death, this museum offers a self-guided experience that you can enjoy at your own slow(or fast) pace. if you have a personal passion for history and well, affliction, then you’ll love a visit to this unique museum. Purchase your tickets online and save on admission by visiting Medieval Torture Museum.
Busy Beaver Button Museum
People collect all sorts of things. Cards, stamps, and even buttons. A whole museums worth actually, like that of The Busy Beaver Button Museum. Based in the office of Busy Beaver Co, a Chicago based custom button manufacturer, The Busy Beaver Button Museum boasts a collection of 30,000 pins in different shapes and sizes. The prominent collection dates back to 1896—every year since the pin back’s patent. Check out the free museum that is helping to preserve history through button collecting.
International Museum of Surgical Science
Find medical history fascinating and intriguing? Be sure to check out the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago. As previously shared by The Haute Seeker, this unique museum is home to over 7,000 medical artifacts spanning centuries of extensive medical history. The museum is perfectly located near Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine and includes a research library, public exhibitions, and guided tours. Tickets to the museum start at $18 for adults, however, rates vary for seniors, students, and children.
Volo Auto Museum
Enter into a world of mechanical wonders at the Volo Auto Museum. Located an hour outside of Chicago, you’ll discover more than just cars at this museum. This museum offers over 45 exhibits featuring restored music machines, iconic TV and movie cars like the 2005 Batmobile from Batman Begins, and the first motorcycle ever created. Learn more and plan a trip to this museum of incredible collections.
The Swedish American Museum
Discover Swedish history in culture at The Swedish American Museum in Andersonville. The traditionally Swedish area on the north side of Chicago. Andersonville which is one of the most concentrated areas of Swedish heritage in the United States, dating back to the 19th century. The cultural museum features two gallery spaces with special art exhibits, a genealogy center and a museum store. Including the museum, the entire neighborhood is the perfect place to visit. Sample Swedish food, buy gifts, visit other museums in the area, and partake in traditional Swedish holidays celebrated in the neighborhood.
National Museum of Mexican Art
Experience Mexican culture, art, and history at the National Museum of Mexican Art. The free, Pilsen based museum exists to establish an arts and cultural organization committed to accessibility, education and social justice. The museum also provided a positive influence for the local Mexican community, especially since many other art institutions did not address Mexican art. Plan your visit to this cultural institution by visiting the National Museum of Mexican Art.
Cleve Carney Museum
Experience modern and contemporary art at The Cleve Carney Museum of Art. The museum is located in the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage which is located in Glen Ellyn, a nearby Chicago suburb. In addition to showing work from world-renowned artists including Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, and Faheem Majeed, The museum provides several venues for College of DuPage art students, faculty, and alumni to showcase their work. Check out the latest exhibits taking place at this museum by visiting their website.
The Haitian American Museum of Chicago
Learn about Haitian history and culture at the The Haitian American Museum of Chicago (HAMOC). Originally from Haiti, founder Elsie Hernandez created an institution that would hold programs and exhibits that will contribute to the rich multicultural tapestry that is Chicago. Since 2012 the museum has hosted a wide array of programs and exhibits showcasing Haiti’s rich culture and art as well as its complex history. Stop by the museum and experience changing exhibits as well as attend virtual and in-person programs.
The American Toby Jug Museum
In the world of collectible art, The American Toby Jug Museum located in the Chicago suburb of Evanston stands out. The free museum offers appoint only tours of the over 8,000 Toby and Character jugs. It is the largest largest collection of its kind in the world.
Chicago Architecture Center
Chicago is known around the globe for its incredible architecture and the Chicago Architecture Center wants to make sure that this well-known fact is preserved. The cultural institution has exhibits that focus on Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods, housing types, leading architects, and future projects, and include largest scale model of the city. In addition to exhibitions and programs, the cultural center also supports annual events like Open House Chicago and a plethora of year around architecture tours.
Super Museum “World’s Largest Collection of Superman”
Calling all D.C and Superman comic fans, there is a museum located in Illinois that is made just for you! Located in the town of Metropolis is the largest collection of Superman memorabilia on the planet, at the famous Super Museum. The museum features 70,000+ items from the life’s work of longtime Superman enthusiast and collector, Jim Hambrick who has amassed one of the greatest collections of Superman memorabilia in the world. Be sure to spend sometime in the “Home of Superman” by visiting local shops, outdoor wonders, and more in the small town.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Have a curiosity for nature? Check out the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. For over 165 years, the Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum has served a unique role in the city of Chicago connecting children of all ages to nature and science through immersive exhibits, fun family events, important conservation research, and in-depth education programs. The family-friendly museum has low-cost admission and is easily accessible in the neighborhood of Lincoln Park in Chicago.
The Renaissance Society
Engage with contemporary art on the University of Chicago campus through The Renaissance Society. The Renaissance Society offers artists “an unfettered platform for bold experimentation.” The creative commissions allow students and visitors intimate opportunities to engage deeply with art and artists who provide critical responses to the present moment. All exhibitions and events are free to attend.
The Bronzeville Children’s Museum
The Bronzeville Children’s Museum is the first and only African-American children’s museum in the country. The local institution offers engaging and enriching exhibits for children under the age of 10 years old. These exhibits focus on focus on African-American inventors, S.T.EM., nutrition, and Bronzeville landmarks. The museum offers regular programming that residents and visitors can take advantage of year around.
Johnny Twist Blues Museum
The Johnny Twist Blues Museum is truly a hidden gem on the South Side of Chicago. You won’t find a fancy website to give away all the details, but a few reviews from visitors share the same sentiment—that the museum is a must-see. The Woodlawn-based museum is owned by Blues guitarist Johnny Twist and holds over four decades of Mississippi Delta and Chicago Blues history. For a $5 admission, guests can check out the museum, and store, and learn all about the history of the Blues.