The Haute Seeker

16 of the Most Unique Chicago Museums to Visit

Chicago is home to one of the best-ranked museums in the world. Did you know that the city also has some incredibly unique museums as well? If you are taking a trip to Chicago or looking for fun things to do, check out this list of 16 of the most unique and often overlooked museums in Chicago.

1. Art on theMart

222 Merchandise Mart Plaza | River North

Wednesday – Sunday | Runs approximately every 15 minutes after sundown

Source | Art on theMart Facebook Page

See art outside museum walls at Art on theMart. This is a non-traditional museum that is free and open to the public. The permanent public art space is the largest permanent digital art projection in the world and is located in the heart of downtown along the Chicago River on the famous Merchandise Mart facade. The projections are year-round, and run for two hours a night, with expanded nightly viewing seven nights a week from May to September. See what’s new at  Art on theMart here.

2. Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank

230 S LaSalle St. | The Loop

Monday – Friday | 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. except on Federal holidays

Source | Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Ever watch a movie and think to yourself, “I wonder if that is really a million dollars in that suitcase.” See what a million dollars really looks like at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Money Museum. Explore real historical currency and artifacts through interactive exhibits, games, and more. This museum is free and is a great experience for kids of all ages.

3. Chicago Children’s Museum

700 E Grand Ave. | Streeterville

Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday |  10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Friday – Sunday |  10 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Source | Chicago Children’s Museum

Image | Chicago Children’s Museum

If you’re looking for the best museum for Children, check out the Chicago Children’s Museum. This Chicago museum is intentionally designed for experimentation, creativity, and learning for all children. Housed in Navy Pier, the museum provides an environment for children to both play and learn. Exhibits at this museum include a Tinkering Lab, an Art Studio, and a Sound Playground. Admission to the museum of free for members or $21.00 for adults and children. However, the museum has multiple ways for you to play for less. Visit the Chicago Children’s for tickets and for more ways to save on admission to this museum.

4. Museum of Contemporary Photography

600 South Michigan Ave. | South Loop

Monday – Sunday | 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Source| Museum of Contemporary Photography

The Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP ) is a college art museum located at Columbia College Chicago. The photography museum is an international hub for artists and diverse communities. The museum boasts groundbreaking exhibitions and programming that push the conversation of the artistic, cultural, and political roles of photography in our world today. Admission to the museum is free. For current and future exhibitions at the MoCP, visit the website.

5. Busy Beaver Button Museum

3407 W. Armitage Ave. | Logan Square

Monday – Friday | 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Source | Busy Beaver Co. Facebook Page

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 pinback’s patent. The museum is free and open to the public or by appointment. For more details on this museum, visit Busy 

6. Chicago Sports Museum

835 North Michigan Ave. | Streeterville

Monday – Thursday | 11:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., Friday – Saturday |  11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Sunday |  12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Source | Chicago Sports Museum Facebook Page

The Chicago Sports Museum is a sports fanatics’ dream come true and a top attraction for families. Chicago’s sports teams are represented through a mix of artifacts and memorable, and interactive exhibitions. Test your athletic skills at Measure Up, observe the largest collection of Chicago Cubs World Series in the city, in the Fan Zone, and more at the Chicago Sports Museum. Tickets to the Chicago Sports Museum are $10 for general admission for adults, $6 for seniors and children ages 4-11, and free for children under 3. Be sure to visit the website at Chicago Sports Museum for all details involving the museum.

7. Smart Museum of Chicago 

The University of Chicago 5550 S. Greenwood Ave. | Hyde Park 

Tuesday – Sunday | 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Source | Smart Museum Facebook Page

Experience a collection of fine art on the campus of the University of Chicago. The Smart Museum of Art is a free museum that offers a unique collection and selection of fine art. To learn more and to see the latest exhibitions at this Chicago Museum, visit the website

8. American Writers Museum

180 N. Michigan Ave., 2nd Floor | The Loop

Monday | 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Thursday – Sunday |  10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Source | American Writers Museum Facebook Page

The American Writers Museum is the first museum of its kind that is fully committed to engaging the public in celebrating American writers. The museums include rotating and permeant exhibitions that focus on the diversity of literature—past, present, and future. Tickets to the museum are $14 for adults, $9 for seniors and students, and free for children ages 12 and under. For more information, visit

9. International Museum of Surgical Science

1524 N. Lake Shore Dr. | Streeterville

Monday – Sunday | 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Source | International Museum of Surgical Science Facebook Page

From medical artifacts to apparatus and instruments, the International Museum of Surgical Science 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 $20 for adults, however, rates vary for seniors, students, and children. For more information, visit the museum website here.

10. wndr Museum

1130 West Monroe St.| West Loop

Monday – Sunday | 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Source: wndr Museum by Taylor Justin

The wndr Museum is an interactive museum featuring multi-sensory art and technology experiences. The wndr Museum is home to Chicago’s first-ever Infinity Mirror Room by iconic Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. The museum is constantly changing its exhibits featuring work from local and nationally renowned artists in its space. Admission starts at $32 for adults.  For more details, and to purchase tickets to the wndr museum, visit the website here.

11. Depaul Art Museum

935 W Fullerton Ave. | Lincoln Park

Wednesday – Thursday | 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., Friday – Sunday | 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Source | DePaul Art Museum Facebook Page

DePaul Art Museum (DPAM) is a world-class museum located in the heart of Lincoln Park on DePaul University’s campus. The museum has a permanent collection of more than 3,500 objects with a focus on international modern and contemporary art. The museum is free and open to the public. Learn more about the opening reception by visiting the website.

12. Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

2430 N Cannon Dr. | Lincoln Park 

Monday – Sunday | 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Source | Peggy Notebart Nature Museum Facebook Page

Looking for family-friendly things to do in Chicago? Explore Peggy Notebart Nature Museum. This unique museum is a family-friendly science museum for children and adults. Admission for adults starts at $15 for Illinois residents. From interactive exhibits to educational events, this museum is perfect for kids of all ages. For more details on this nature museum in Chicago, visit the website

13. National Veterans Art Museum

4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., 2nd Floor | Irving Park 

Tuesday – Saturday | 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Source | National Veterans Art Museum Facebook Page

The National Veterans Art Museum is a free museum housing the artwork of veterans housing more than 2,000 works from artists that have served in WWII, Korea, the Gulf War, and the Global War on Terror. The artists live across the United States as well as Australia, Cambodia, Hungary, Thailand, and North and South Vietnam. See the latest exhibitions and learn more about how you can get involved with this museum here

14. The Design Museum of Chicago 

72 E Randolph St. | The Loop

Monday – Sunday | 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 

Source | Chicago Design Museum Facebook Page

Formerly the Chicago Design Museum, The Design Museum of Chicago features short-term exhibitions, engaging public programming, and robust partnerships with other arts, academic, and non-profit organizations to contextualize and humanize design’s influence in everyday life. This unique museum is free and open to the public seven days a week. For more information on their latest exhibit, visit The Design Museum of Chicago

15. National Puerto Rican Museum 

3015 W Division St. | Humboldt Park 

Tuesday – Thursday | 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Friday | 10:00 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday | 10 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.  

Source | National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture(NMPRAC)

Celebrate Puerto Rican arts and culture with the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture (NMPRAC). This unique museum in Chicago is the only self-standing museum in the nation devoted to showcasing Puerto Rican arts and cultural exhibitions year-round. Located in Humboldt Park, this free museum in Chicago serves as a cultural center for all people. For the latest exhibitions and events at NMPRAC, visit the website

16. Mindworks Museum

224 S Michigan Ave. | The Loop

Wednesday-Sunday | 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

Source | Chicago Booth’s Mindworks Museum Facebook Page

Interested in understanding the inner workings of human behavior? Check out Chicago Booth’s Mindworks Museum in Chicago. This unique museum free and open to the public, is a working laboratory and interactive discovery center that welcomes the public to participate in and learn about behavioral science research, findings, and real-world applications. To learn more about Mindsworks, be sure to visit the website here. 

Now that you’ve discovered Chicago’s most unique museums, will you add them to your list? Let me know in the comments!

6 responses to “16 of the Most Unique Chicago Museums to Visit”

  1. elenacgoodson Avatar

    Woah these all look so cool!!

  2. […] anniversary of Ray Bradbury’s birthday with the American Writer’s Museum this week. One of Chicago’s most unique museums will offer free admission all day long so that guests can explore all of our engaging exhibits and […]

  3. […] Check out an under the radar museum. […]

  4. […] get enough of these Museums? Discover more of our favorite museums in Chicago […]

  5. […] 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 […]

  6. […] Check out an under the radar museum. […]

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