More than 400,000-square feet of exhibit space fill this gigantic museum, which explores cultures and environments from around the world. Interactive displays examine such topics as the secrets of Egyptian mummies, the art and innovations of people living in the Ancient Americas, and the evolution of life on Earth. Originally funded by Chicago retailer Marshall Field, the museum was founded in 1893 to hold material gathered for the World's Columbian Exposition; its current neoclassical home opened in 1921.
You'll come face-to-face with a giant, animatronic wolf spider and listen to the sounds of gnawing insects.
Travel to ancient Egypt via a working canal, a living marsh where papyrus is grown, a shrine to the cat goddess Bastet, burial-ceremony artifacts, and 23 mummies. Or spend a couple of hours taking in contemporary and ancient Africa. Dioramas reproduce the homes and lives of Africans from Senegal, Cameroon, and the Sahara.
See nature at its most sparkly in the Grainger Hall of Gems, with magnificent jewels and jewelry.
Learn how museum scientists are preserving biodiversity at "Restoring Earth," in the Abbott Hall of Conservation.
Check out the 3-D theater, screening movies on dinosaurs, mummies, and Ice Age animals.
Don't hesitate to take toddlers to the Field. In the Crown Family PlayLab, kids two- to six-years old can play house in a re-created pueblo and compare their footprints with a dinosaur's.
It's impossible to see the entire museum in one visit. Try to get tickets to the special exhibit of the season and then choose a couple of subjects you'd like to focus on, like North American birds or Chinese jade.
The Sue Store sells a mind-boggling assortment of dinosaur-related merchandise.
Tucked in the back, the dining room comes with wonderful views of the lake and the Museum Campus.