If it seems like forever since you visited any of Chicago’s many museums and cultural arts attractions, there’s no time like the present to check out all that the area has to offer. And with COVID-19 pandemic restrictions lifted, you can do so — in person.
So here’s a look at some of the exhibits waiting to be discovered (or rediscovered) by you, your friends, your family. The museums listed have reopened unless otherwise indicated. Most require advance tickets, so check websites for more information.
Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr. Open Sat-Sun in July-August for sky shows only: “Imagine the Moon” and “Skywatch Live.” A new “‘Scopes at the Adler” public observing program begins in mid-July. The full museum won’t reopen until March 2022. Admission: $15; adlerplanetarium.org.
American Writers Museum, 180 N. Michigan. To May 2022: “Ray Bradbury: Inextinguishable,” a retrospective which explores the writings and influence of the legendary science-fiction writer. Admission: $14; americanwritersmusuem.org.
The Art of Banksy, Epiphany Center for the Arts, 201 S. Ashland, Aug. 7-Nov. 28: The exhibit brings 80 original works by the elusive street artist to the West Loop location. World-famous pieces from private collections including “Flower Thrower,” “Rude Copper” and “Girl with Balloon” sit alongside other works rarely seen by the general public. Admission: $40, $30 16 and younger; banksyexhibit.com.
Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan. To Aug. 15: “The Obama Portraits” featuring the official portraits painted by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald. To Sept. 6: “Bisa Butler: Portraits,” an exhibit of the artist’s quilts informed by photographs. To Oct. 18: Joseph E. Yoakum: What I Saw” speaks to the self-taught artist’s vision of drawings of mountainous terrain, arid deserts and majestic waterways. Admission: $14-$35; artic.edu.
Chicago Children’s Museum, Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand. Reopens July 2. Ongoing are a variety of exhibits aimed at improving children’s lives by creating a community where play and learning connect. Admission: $19; chicagochildrensmuseum.org.
Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark. To May 8, 2023: “Vivian Maier: In Color” features color photographs by the prolific street photographer. To July 4, 2022: “Remembering Dr. King: 1929-1968” includes photographs depicting key moments in Dr. King’s civil rights work with a special emphasis on Chicago. Admission: $17, $19, children under 18 free if Illinois resident; chicagohistory.org.
Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph. To Oct. 3: “Chicago: Where Comics Come to Life (1880-1960),” an exhibit, curated by artist-author Chris Ware and the City of Chicago’s Cultural Historian Emeritus, Tim Samuelson, which focuses on comics in popular publishing, African American cartoonists, the first women cartoonists, the first daily comic strip and more. Admission is free; chicagoculturalcenter.org.
Cleve Carney Museum of Art, McAninch Arts Center, College of DuPage, 425 Fawell, Glen Ellyn. To Sept. 6: “Frida Kahlo: Timeless” features an array of oil paintings and works on paper from Mexico City’s Museo Dolores Olmedo; plus there’s an interactive timeline of Kahlo’s life and more than 100 photographs. Admission: $23, $40; theccma.org.
Driehaus Museum, 40 E. Erie. To Aug. 29: “PAN — Prints of Avant-Garde Europe, 1895-1900” documents a new era of printmaking at the turn of the century. To Aug. 29: “William H. Bradley and the Chap-Book from the Collection of Richard H. Driehaus” features prints by artist Bradley, one of the most successful magazine cover artists of the late 19th century. Admission: $10-$20; driehausmuseum.org.
DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th. To June 29-mid-Sept.: “Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40,” a multi-museum venture, here features “Presenting Negro Scenes Drawn Upon My Passage through the South and Reconfigured for the Benefit of Enlightened Audiences Wherever Such May Be Found, By Myself, Missus K.E.B Walker, Colored” is a signature black silhouette installation from the artist Kara Walker. Admission: $3-$10 (Sundays free), children under 5 free; dusablemuseum.org.
Elmhurst Art Museum, 150 S. Cottage Hill, Elmhurst. To Sept. 16: “Par Excellence Redux,” features a fully playable, family-friendly, 18-hole mini-golf course created by more than 20 artists, designers and architects from Chicago and beyond; it pays homage to the School of the Art Institute’s original and wildly popular 1988 exhibition, “Par Excellence.” Admission: $5, $10; children 4 and under free; elmhurstartmuseum.org.
Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr. To Sept. 6: “Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Jane Goodall” follows the primatologist’s journey to becoming a passionate scientist studying chimpanzees in Africa. To July 18: “Apsáalooke Women and Warriors” celebrates the history, values and beliefs of the Apsáalooke people of the Northern Plains. Admission: $18-$32; fieldmuseum.org.
Greektown tribute to Helios (along Halsted Street). To May 2022: “Hello Helios: The warming suns of Chicago’s Greektown” is a series of 24 sculptures painted by Chicago artists and named for Helios, the god of the sun in Greek mythology. Free. greektownchicago.org
Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell. July 19-Oct. 23: “Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40,” a multi-museum venture, here features works by Mel Chin, LaToya Ruby Frazier and Fazal Sheikh. Admission is free; hydeparkart.org.
Illinois Holocaust Museum, 9603 Woods Dr., Skokie. To Sept. 12: Mandela — Struggle for Freedom” traces the history of the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Admission: $6-$15, children under 5 free; ilholocaustmuseum.org.
International Museum of Surgical Science, 1524 N. Lake Shore Dr. To July 11: “Hektoen — Nurses’ Relaxation and Renewal through the Arts” features artworks created by nurses. Admission: $9-$17, children under 3 free; imss.org.
Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, 756 N. Milwaukee. To Oct. 31: “Trauma and Loss, Reflection and Hope — Selections from the Collection.” To Aug. 22: “The Social Justice Sewing Academy — Connecting Generations Through Cloth.” Admission: $5; under 18 free; art.org.
Kohl Children’s Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd, Glenview. The museum offers both outdoor fun (butterfly tent, bug hunt, math trail, art studio, trike track) and indoor exhibits (15 in all including “City on the Move,” “Hands on House” and “Pet Vet). Admission: $15, children under 12 months free; kohlchildrensmuseum.org.
McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum, 99 Chicago Riverwalk. The five-story museums allows visitors to explore a historic bridgehouse, watch the massive gears of a moving bridge and learn about the history of the Chicago River. Admission: $5, $6; children 5 and under free; bridgehousemuseum.org.
Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago. To Oct. 3: “Chicago Comics: 1960s to Now,” celebrates Chicago’s pivotal role as a national and innovative center for comics and cartooning. To Aug. 8: “Carolina Caycedo: From the Bottom of the River” surveys the last ten years of the artist’s work that address humanity’s relationship with nature. Admission: $8, $15; mcachicago.org.
Museum of Contemporary Photography, 600 S. Michigan at Columbia College Chicago. To Aug. 29: “Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40,” a multi-museum venture, here features the work of An-My Lê and Shahzia Sikander,” two Asian-American artists who explore their relationship to America. Admission is free; mocp.org.
Museum of Illusions Chicago, 25 E. Washington. The museum celebrates the world of illusions with more than 80 visual exhibitions including holograms, optical illusions and immersive rooms that are designed to trick the senses and educate about the truth behind the illusions. Admission: $15-$23.50; moichicago.com.
Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr. To Oct. 24: “Marvel — Universe of Super Heroes” celebrates Marvel history with more than 300 artifacts including comic book pages, sculptures, interactive displays and costumes and props from films. Admission: $12.95, $21.95; msichicago.org.
National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th. Ongoing: “Spotlight on Chaz Bojórquez and Enrique Alférez” features the museum’s newest acquisition, “We the People,” a painting by Bojórquez, and Alférez’s iconic bronze sculpture “La Soldadera.” To Jan. 16, 2022: “Adláteres and the Unexpected Journey: Works by Carmen Chami.” Admission is free; nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org.
National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture, 3015 W. Division. Ongoing: “Samuel Lind — Portales” features paintings, installations, prints and sculptures seen together for the first time. Admission is free; nmprac.org.
National Public Housing Museum, 625 N. Kingsbury. Ongoing: “Toward Common Cause — Art, Social Change and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40,” a multi-museum venture, here features an outside installation by Njideka Akunyili Crosby — two 70-foot panels depicting her portraits of African American life — one on the side of the museum and the other at the Minnie Ripperton Apartments, 4250 S. Princeton. Visit nphm.org.
Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton. To Sept. 18: “Toward Common Cause — Art, Social Change and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40,” a multi-museum venture, here features Jeffrey Gibson’s reflections on representations of Indigenous people in cultural institutions. Admission is free; newberry.org.
Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago, 1155 E. 58th. To Dec. 31: “Antoin Sevruguin — Past and Present” explores the changing world of late 19th century Iran through the work of the acclaimed photographer. Admission: $10, children under 12 $5; oi.chicago.edu.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Dr. Reopens July 8. Exhibits include “Without a Trace,” selections of photographs by Zbigniew Bzdak; “Patterns in Nature: A Bridge between Art and the Natural World,” mixed media work by artist Katherine Lampert; “Judy Istock Butterfly Haven” “Birds of Chicago” and many more. Admission: $6-$9, children under 3 free; naturemuseum.org.
Polish Museum of America, 984 N. Milwaukee. Ongoing: “Polish Chicago 1850-1939,” “Folk Art Collection” and “The Paderewski Collection,” which documents the life of Polish pianist and composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski. Admission: $6-$10; polishmuseumofamerica.org.
Pritzker Military Museum & Library, 104 S. Michigan. To spring 2022: “Drawn to Combat: Bill Mauldin & the Art of War” covers Mauldin’s career as a wartime cartoonist focusing on soldiers’ experiences and as a political cartoonist. Admission: $8, $10, children under 12 free; pritzkermilitary.org.
Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr. Immerse yourself in the aquatic animal world with sea otters, turtles, beluga whales, sharks, sea lions, jellyfish, reptiles and more. Exhibits include the Caribbean Reef, Abbott Oceanarium and Polar Play Zone. Admission: $4.95-$39.95; sheddaquarium.org.
Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, 5550 S. Greenwood. Reopens July 15. July 15- Dec. 19: “Toward Common Cause — Art, Social Change and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40,” a multi-museum venture organized by the Smart Museum, here features works by Mark Bradford, Mel Chin, Nicole Eisenman, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Jeffrey Gibson, Toba Khedoori, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Julie Mehretu, Fazal Sheikh and Xu Bing. Admission is free; smartmuseum.uchciago.edu.
Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island. Reopens July 18. To Dec. 19: “Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40,” a multi-museum venture, here features work by Carrie Mae Weems, Kerry James Marshall, Gary Hill, Whitfield Lovell, Trevor Paglen, Deborah Willis, Dawoud Bey, Fred Wilson and Nicole Eisenman. Admission is free; rebuild-foundation.org.
Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, 2320 W. Chicago. To Aug. 22: “The Horizon is a Circle” features paintings by Chicago based artist Ricardo Manuel Diaz and printed works by Nova Scotian artist Margarita Fainshtein. Admission: $5; uima-chicago.org
WNDR Museum, 1130 W. Monroe. The fully immersive art and technology experience includes Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s “Let’s Survive Forever,” a stunning infinity mirror room; the Flux Room, a multi-sensory, 360-degree immersive experience curated by artist Santiago X and more. Admission: $30, children 2 and under free; wndrmuseum.com.
Wrightwood 659, 659 W. Wrightwood. To July 31: “Yannis Tsarouchis: Dancing in Real Life,” the first U.S. retrospective devoted to the work of the artist widely regarded as one of the greatest Greek painters of the 20th century. Admission: $15; wrightwood659.org.