Skip to Content

Best Museums In Illinois You Need To See

Are you looking for an overview of the best museums in Illinois? You came to the right place. 

When you think of Illinois, museums might not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, Illinois is home to some of the best museums in the Midwest.

In fact, there are over 1500 unique museums in Illinois. From historic villages to art museums.

If you’re looking to learn something new or spend an afternoon with family, Illinois has you covered.

Continue reading to discover some of the best museums in Illinois.

There is a really good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission (for which we are deeply grateful) at no extra cost to you.

Best Museums in Illinois

Here is our overview of museums you shouldn’t miss while visiting Illinois.

Best Art Museums in Illinois

Art lovers should check out these amazing art museums in Illinois.

The Art Institute of Chicago, one of the best museums in Illinois
Entrance to the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago

Located just off the shore of the beautiful Lake Michigan, The Art Institute of Chicago is downtown Chicago’s top museum to visit.

Their collection of unique art pieces is sourced from places all over the world and dates back centuries. Their exhibits are rotating, so you will find something new to enjoy each time you visit.

Highlights

Here, you’ll find some of the most captivating artworks in Illinois, including masterpieces from Georgia O’Keefe, René Magritte, Gordon Parks, and plenty more.

This art museum in Illinois stands out for its extensive collection.

What Others Are Saying

Visitors love exploring the vast collections on display in a relaxing setting. Guests recommend staying 2-3 hours or more so that you can experience all that it has to offer.

How Much Time Is Needed

If you’re visiting the Art Institute of Chicago, you will want to plan on staying 2-3 hours so that you can experience all that it has to offer.

Entrance Fee

Tickets for a day pass to the Art Institute of Chicago range from 19 to 25 dollars.

There are also memberships available to purchase which include free admission and many other benefits that art lovers can benefit from.

Website: https://www.artic.edu/

Address: 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

Krannert Art Museum is one of the best museums in Illinois if you love art.
Krannert Art Museum

Krannert Art Museum

If you’re looking for an art museum in Central Illinois, look no further than the Krannert Art Museum (KAM).

This rich collection of art exhibits is located on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is open to communities and visitors of Illinois.

Here, you can find an extensive collection of fine art sourced from locations all around the globe as well as eclectic exhibitions and engaging programs.

It is KAM’s mission to stand out as a cultural destination that aims to enrich the perspectives of its visitors.

Highlight

There is something for everyone to enjoy at Krannert Art Museum, which is the second-largest fine art museum in Illinois. Today, this museum is home to over 11,000 artworks dating as far back as the 4th century BCE.

What Others Are Saying

Guests love Krannert Art Museum for its wide array of modern art collections and variety of community events. Most people love spending a rainy afternoon exploring all that KAM has to offer.

How Much Time Is Needed

It is recommended to spend about 2 hours here.

Entrance fee

Admission is free for all visitors.

Website: https://kam.illinois.edu/krannert-art-museum

Address: 500 East Peabody Drive, Champaign, Illinois

The Block Museum of Art in Evanston
The Block Museum of Art in Evanston

Block Museum of Art

The Block Museum of Art is nestled among the campus of Northwestern University and is open to the public. Here, you can frequently participate in events such as lectures and workshops that are hosted by the nearby university.

Featuring more than 5,000 unique and captivating artworks for visitors to enjoy, the Block Museum of Art is a must-see for anyone visiting the Evanston area.

Their perpetually expanding collection includes prints, drawings, and photography. It is always free to experience, making fine art accessible to all.

Highlights

The Block Museum of Art features thousands of fine art pieces for visitors to explore. You can also catch a variety of films and lectures that are available to the community.

What Others Are Saying

Visitors love this museum for its captivating events and exquisite art displays.

How Much Time Do You Need For Visiting

If you are planning on visiting the Block Museum of Art during your trip to Illinois, you will want to set aside one hour to fully experience all that it has to offer.

Entrance fee

The museum is free for all and parking is also free on weekends and weekdays after 4 PM. There’s a parking fee of $8 outside these periods.

Website: https://www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/

Address: 40 Arts Circle Dr, Evanston, Illinois

Rockford Art Museum

Perched within the heart of the Riverfront Museum Park campus, you’ll find an art museum that is truly one of a kind.

Their collection dates back to the 19th century and features the works of many artists who are native to Illinois in addition to many other regions throughout the country.

Because of its unique and selective displays, this art museum in Northern Illinois has become a hub of diversity where visitors can go to experience the different cultural influences behind the artwork.

Highlights

The Rockford Art Museum (RAM) features a diverse collection of more than 2,000 works of art for visitors to take delight in.

With modern and contemporary pieces of American art on display all year round, there is something that everyone can appreciate at RAM.

What Others Are Saying

Visitors are consistently mesmerized by the artworks on display at the Rockford Art Museum.

How Much Time Do You Need For Visiting

According to guests, if you’re planning on visiting the Rockford Art Museum, you will want to set aside 1-2 hours so that you have time to experience all that it has to offer.

Entrance Fee

The best part of all is that admission is free for all ages.

Website: https://rockfordartmuseum.org/

Address: 711 North Main Street, Rockford, Illinois

The Chicago History Museum
Chicago History Museum (photo credits: Goldnpuppy)

Best History Museums in Illinois

Chicago History Museum

Located within the heart of Chicago, you’ll find an incredible museum that will take you on a journey through time.

The Chicago History Museum was founded in 1856 making this the oldest museum in Chicago.

Originally constructed to study, interpret, and preserve the unique history of Chicago, the museum burned down during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 which destroyed much of its original collection.

Since then, it has been reconstructed and restored to all of its original glory.

Highlights

Come experience Chicago’s oldest cultural institution where you can witness the unique history of Chicago dating back to the mid-1800s.

What Others Are Saying

Guests love this museum for its detailed exhibits and a wide variety of displays.

In addition to the historical exhibits, there is a research center and a café on-site for guests to enjoy. Visitors recommend taking 2 to 3 hours to explore this museum.

Entrance Fee

Tickets can be purchased online or at the door and all children 12 and under will receive free admission. Chicago residents will receive a 2-dollar discount upon presentation of a valid ID.

Website: https://www.chicagohistory.org/

Address: 1601 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois

The Field Museum is one of the most impressive museums in Illinois
The skeleton of Sue at the Field Museum

Field Museum

Perched along the shores of Lake Michigan, you’ll uncover a historic journey unlike any other at the Field Museum.

This museum in Chicago is known for its wide range of cultural artifacts and natural wonders of the world. Here you can discover some of the most exciting aspects of natural and cultural history.

Their vast collection is made up of nearly 40 million artifacts and specimens for visitors to enjoy.

One of their most popular artifacts is Sue, the world’s most complete tyrannosaurus rex.

Highlights

At the Field Museum in Chicago, you will gain access to 40 million unique artifacts including dinosaur bones, unique fossils, and cultural artifacts.

What Others Are Saying

Guests of the Field Museum say that this is the most incredible museum that they have ever experienced.

How Much Time Do You Need For Visiting

It is recommended that you plan on spending at least 3 hours exploring all that the Field Museum has to offer. This is the perfect museum in Chicago to spend the afternoon at.

Entrance Fee

The cost of admission is 26 dollars for adults and 19 dollars for children.

Website: https://www.fieldmuseum.org/

Address: 1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum at Springfield
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum at Springfield (photo credits: Randy von Liski)

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Immerse yourself in the life of the nation’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln with this one-of-a-kind experience that the whole family is sure to enjoy.

It’s no surprise that visiting the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is the top thing to do while in Springfield, Illinois.

Here, you can learn more about Abraham Lincoln in the town where he raised his family in.

Explore the trials and triumphs of the Lincoln family through this historic experience that is unlike any other.

Highlights

Exploring the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is one of the top things to do in Springfield, Illinois.

Here, you can catch an exclusive glimpse into the life of Abraham Lincoln and the impact he had on the town of Springfield.

What Others Are Saying

Visitors of the Library and Museum love exploring all of the nooks and crannies that you can find throughout the different sections of the library.

One of the best experiences that you will find in this museum is the holograms performance.

How Much Time Do You Need For Visiting

Guests recommend taking 2-3 hours to explore the exhibits and fully experience the museum.

Entrance Fee

Admission is free for all ages.

Website: https://presidentlincoln.illinois.gov/

Address: 212 North 6th Street, Springfield, Illinois

The Lincoln home in Springfield
The Lincoln home in Springfield

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Another popular museum in Springfield, Illinois, is the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.

Here, you and your family can explore the community and home where Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary raised their children.

There are plenty of opportunities to learn more about Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois, but this one might just be the most authentic way to experience the lifestyle of the lawyer, father, and president who helped to shape the history of our nation.

Highlights

When you visit the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, you will receive a personal introduction to the life of Abraham Lincoln and a tour of the only home that he ever owned before moving into the White House as the 16th president of the United States.

What Others Are Saying

Visitors consider this museum a must-see attraction in Springfield, Illinois.

How Much Time Do You Need For Visiting

The guided tour through Abraham Lincoln’s home typically takes about 1 hour on average.

However, since there is so much in the surrounding area to enjoy, guests recommend spending an entire afternoon here.

Entrance fee

The home can be visited with a guided tour which is free although you still need to obtain tickets in advance at the visitor center.

This is also where you need to pay for the parking. The parking costs $2/hour.

Website: https://www.nps.gov/liho/index.htm

Address: 413 South 8th Street, Springfield, Illinois

Stillman house, where the US Grant museum is located
Stillman house, where the US Grant museum is located (photo credits: Randy von Liski)

Galena and US Grant Museum

Visiting the Jo Daviess County Historical Society and Museum is one of the most popular things to do in Galena, Illinois.

Perched atop a grand outdoor staircase, you’ll find an exquisite Italianate home that was built in 1858.

However, the gorgeous setting is not what makes this museum so special, believe it or not.

Inside, you will uncover a lead mine, Civil War memorabilia, and various items in honor of Ulysses S. Grant, America’s 18th president.

Highlights

Perched atop the bluffs of Galena, you’ll uncover a quaint historical museum that is full of historic artifacts and memorabilia commemorating the 18th president of the United State, Ulysses S. Grant.

What Others Are Saying

Visitors love this museum because of its unique, fun, and charming exhibits that are rich in history.

How Much Time Do You Need For Visiting

On average, people will spend about 1 to 2 hours here exploring the captivating history that presents itself throughout the home.

Entrance Fee

At the time of writing, tickets are 8 dollars per person.

Website: https://www.galenahistory.org/

Address: 211 South Bench Street, Galena, Illinois

Best Museums in Southern Illinois

Here is our list of museums you should visit while discovering southern Illinois.

General John A. Logan Museum

If you’re in search of a rich cultural museum in Illinois, look no further than the General John A. Logan Museum in Murphysboro.

This museum features educational and cultural programs which encourage its visitors to explore the life and legacy of General John A. Logan.

Logan was a general who fought alongside the Union army throughout the Civil War.

Although there was much controversy regarding his loyalties at the beginning of the war, he proved himself to be a necessary asset for the war’s efforts.

He went on to leave his mark on American history and was eventually promoted to Major General.

Highlights

This museum in Southern Illinois highlights all of the trials and triumphs of John A. Logan as he gained the title of Major General and went on to help the Union armies win the Civil War.

What Others Are Saying

Guests are often impressed to learn more about the great contributions that John A. Logan made to the Civil War.

This museum stands out for its knowledgeable staff who are passionate about the history behind the exhibits they have on display.

How Much Time Do You Need For Visiting

Typically, guests will spend about 1.5 hours here.

Website: https://loganmuseum.org/

Address: 1613 Edith Street, Murphysboro, Illinois

The inhabitants of Metropolis are proud of their hero
The inhabitants of Metropolis are proud of their hero

Super Museum

Pop culture fans will delight in the incredible Superman Museum.

Open daily from 8 am to 7 pm, the Super Museum is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Metropolis, Illinois.

Here, you’ll have the opportunity to uncover the captivating history of Superman in his hometown.

With over 75 years of Superman history to explore, this is a museum in Southern Illinois that the entire family can enjoy.

From Superman action figures to extremely rare Superman costumes, this is the most impressive collection of Superman memorabilia that you will find on display.

Highlights

Head over to Superman’s hometown of Metropolis to explore one of the world’s largest collections of Superman memorabilia.

This museum opened up to the public in 1993 and has since grown its collection of artifacts to a whopping 70,000 memorabilia items.

What Others Are Saying

Visitors love this unique museum because of the impressive collection of Superman memorabilia.

How Much Time Do You Need For Visiting

According to past guests, it is best to spend about 1-2 hours at the Super Museum.

Entrance Fee

At the moment of writing tickets for this museum cost 8 dollars per person.

Website: https://supermuseum.com/

Address: 517 Market Street, Metropolis, Illinois

Franklin County Historic Jail Museum
Franklin County Historic Jail Museum (photo credits: J. Stephen Conn)

Historic Jail Museum – Franklin County Historic Jail Museum

Experience the rich history of Franklin County as if you lived through it firsthand at the Historic Jail Museum in Benton, Illinois.

Here you can find more information about Benton. 

Here you can catch a glimpse of pop culture references such as memorabilia from George Harrison, actor John Malkovich, and basketball star Doug Collins.

You can also learn more about the history of General John A. Logan.

This is also the site that housed a notorious bootlegger and gangster of Illinois, Charlie Birger. Birger was the last convicted criminal that was put to death by hanging in Illinois.

Here, you can explore his jail cell and get up close and personal with a replica of the gallows where said his last words.

Highlights

Here at the Franklin County Historic Jail Museum, you can discover a wide variety of memorabilia from pop culture icons such as George Harrison, John Malkovich, Doug Collins, and more.

What Others Are Saying

Visitors were impressed by the vast amount of historic memorabilia that is available to explore throughout the museum including accurate representations of how the jailhouse functioned.

How Much Time Do You Need For Visiting

Most people recommend spending 1 to 2 hours at the Franklin County Historic Jail Museum in Illinois.

Entrance Fee

At the time of writing, admission to this museum is 5 dollars per person.

Website: http://www.historicjail.com/

Address: 209 West Main Street, Benton, Illinois

Jane the T-Rex at the Burpee Museum, a unique and educational museum in Illinois
Jane the T-Rex at the Burpee Museum

Best Museums in Northern Illinois

Burpee Museum of Natural History

If you’re looking for a unique and educational museum in Northern Illinois to visit with your family, look no further than the Burpee Museum of Natural History.

With a vast collection of unique exhibits that will captivate visitors of any age, Burpee is the place to go when it comes to museums in Illinois.

Here, you can uncover 3 floors of informative and interactive exhibits that feature unique fossils, bones, and life-size dioramas.

They even have some of the best-preserved and most complete dinosaur reconstructions on display.

If dinosaurs aren’t your thing, no worries!

There are also exhibits on geology, weather patterns, bugs, plants, and even ancient human civilizations. Chances are, you won’t regret taking a trip to the Burpee Museum of Natural History.

Highlights

With 3 floors full of interactive exhibits featuring unique fossils, bones, life-size dioramas, and more, there is something for everyone to enjoy at the Burpee Museum of Natural History.

What Others Are Saying

Guests at the Burpee Museum of Natural History are blown away by the quality and depth of the exhibits throughout the museum.

Families say that the first and third floors are the most fun and exciting for their little ones.

How Much Time Do You Need For Visiting

Visitors recommend spending about 2-3 hours here.

Entrance Fee

Tickets are 12 dollars for children and adults ages 13 and up, and 10 dollars for children from the ages of 4 to 12.

Website: https://burpee.org/

Address: 737 North Main Street, Rockford, Illinois

A Water powered Machine Shop in Midway Village Museum Rockford Illinois
The Midway Village Museum in Rockford

Midway Village Museum

One of the most exciting things to do in Rockford, Illinois is to take a tour through the Midway Village Museum.

At this historic site, you will find a 13-acre farm where visitors are granted the opportunity to learn about farm life as it was in the late 1800s.

Explore the 29 unique buildings and heritage gardens that make up the historic Village of Midway.

Here you can check out a variety of shops such as the blacksmith shop, the old hardware store, or even the old barber shop/carpenter shop.

There are plenty of activities to experience here at the Midway Village Museum for visitors of all ages.

The oldest building available to explore is the Mowry Brown House, which was built in 1840.

Highlights

Take a trip through time when you visit the Midway Village and Museum in Rockford, Illinois.

This historic village spans over 13 acres where you can explore historically preserved buildings such as shops, churches, and even an old schoolhouse.

What Others Are Saying

Guests say that visiting Midway Village is a fun and educational experience that the whole family can enjoy.

Even if the weather outdoors is less than ideal, there are plenty of exciting activities to participate in within the buildings.

How Much Time Do You Need For Visiting

Most people recommend spending an entire afternoon exploring Midway Village Museum.

Entrance Fee

At the time of writing admission is 8 dollars for adults and 6 dollars for children under 12.

There are also bikes available for rent on-site so that you can pedal through the village at your own pace.

Website: https://www.midwayvillage.com/

Address: 6799 Guilford Road, Rockford, Illinois

Read Also:

Here is a list of more interesting things to do in northern Illinois:

Best Children’s Museums in Illinois

Science Center

Are you looking for a children’s museum in Southern Illinois? Look no further than the Science Center.

This is one of the most hands-on museum experiences in all of Illinois.

They have interactive exhibits designed to engage children from ages 0 to 18.

You can visit the Science Center as a family Thursday through Sunday or send your child to one of their exciting day camp programs which take place on Mondays through Wednesdays.

Their experienced and friendly staff members ensure a one-of-a-kind experience that is guided by the curiosity of your children.

Whether your little one is into arts and crafts, exploring the depths of the ocean, science experiments, or anything in between, The Science Center has a day camp program that they will delight in.

Highlights

With various day camp programs and plenty to explore, the Science Center is the perfect place to explore with your children.

What Others Are Saying

Visitors of the Science Center in Carbondale are impressed by their friendly and knowledgeable staff members as well as their kid-oriented day camps.

How Much Time Do You Need For Visiting

Most people recommend spending about 2-3 hours at the Science Center.

Entrance Fee

Admission at the time of writing is $7.50 per person.

Website: https://sciencecentersi.com/

Address: 1237 East Main Street Space 1048, Carbondale, Illinois

The Discovery Center Museum
The Discovery Center Museum (photo credits: Discovery Center Museum)

Discovery Center Museum

Located on the same museum campus as the Rockford Art Museum and the Burpee Museum of Natural History, you’ll find one of the most delightful children’s science museums in Northern Illinois.

Here at Discovery Center Museum, you and your family can explore more than 300 of their unique interactive exhibits.

Along with your little ones, you can explore their soaring jet simulator, play meteorologist, or even use your own body to generate electricity.

Although the interactive exhibits are designed for children, everyone can learn something new at the Discovery Center Museum.

Highlights

Discovery Center Museum is one of the top family attractions in northern Illinois.

With over 300 interactive exhibits, this children’s museum has been recognized for its unique, family-friendly exhibits throughout the state and nationally.

What Others Are Saying

According to visitors of the Discovery Center Museum, this is a fun place that children of all ages can enjoy.

How Much Time Do You Need For Visiting

Most people recommend spending about 2-3 hours at this museum so you and your family can experience all that they have to offer.

Entrance Fee

Tickets are 9 dollars per person at the time of writing.

You can also purchase a family pass for 90 dollars which is good for one year.

Website: https://www.discoverycentermuseum.org/about/about-overview

Address: 711 North Main Street, Rockford, Illinois

DuPage Children's Museum
DuPage Children’s Museum (photo credits: Michael Kappel)

Dupage Children’s Museum

At Dupage Children’s Museum, your little ones will have the opportunity to make discoveries, explore new spaces and broaden their perspectives so that they can experience their worlds in a new light.

This engaging children’s museum in northern Illinois will allow your children to learn through playing with their unique toys, blocks, and building spaces.

They also have a café on site which serves up fresh, healthy snacks daily.

This is one of the top places to visit with your family in Naperville, Illinois, and it’s easy to see why.

Highlights

Dupage Children’s Museum features a vast interactive play space for children to enjoy.

Here you can find unique toys that will allow your children to learn about the world through play.

What Others Are Saying

Visitors of Dupage Children’s Museum say that this facility is a great place to spend the afternoon with your children. However, it is best recommended for children between 3 and 8 years of age.

How Much Time Do You Need For Visiting

Most people end up spending around 2-3 hours at this museum.

Website: https://dupagechildrens.org/

Entrance Fee

Tickets are 10 dollars per child and 12 dollars per adult.

Address: 301 North Washington Street, Naperville, Illinois

Conclusion

No matter what part of Illinois you’re exploring, there are plenty of museums to help you connect with the history and culture of the state.

You can even find plenty of natural history museums in Illinois.

This state is home to some of the best museums in the Midwest.

Regardless of if you’re looking to learn more about the history of the United States, get lost in some captivating art pieces, explore scientific exhibits, or even get to know Superman, you can do all of this and more by visiting a museum in Illinois.