Some of the most educational and entertaining spots in the Chicago area fall outside the city limits. Chicagoland has many museums that are located in the suburbs. Here is a listing of some of the more popular ones.
Chicago Museums - The Best of the Suburbs
Volo Auto Museum, 27582 Volo Village Rd, Volo, IL. If you’re a gearhead, you will love this place. This museum has scores of old cars on display (and for sale), held both outdoors and in three different show rooms. Makes and models include a 1973 Ford Mustang Convertible, a 1965 Cobra Shelby, a 1957 Ford Thunderbird, and a 1923 Ford T Bucket. Not a car fanatic? Then… you’ll still have a great time! Check out cars from dozens of movies and TV shows, like the General Lee, Mystery Machine, KITT, and the DeLorean from Back to the Future. The Volo Auto Museum is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is about $10 for adults ($6 for kids).
Waukegan History Museum, 1917 N. Sheridan Rd, Waukegan, IL. See the rich history of Chicago’s largest most northern suburb (and some would argue, best suburb). Attractions include the Haines House, which was built in 1843, and tours of historical homes near downtown. The museum has some interesting exhibits, like “The Civil War: The War Efforts in Waukegan,” which profiles some Union soldiers from the city, and displays on two of Waukegan’s most famous residents: author Ray Bradbury and actor/comedian Jack Benny. The museum is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. from Tuesdays to Thursdays, and admission is free.
Is Waukegan too esoteric for you? Many other suburbs have their own history museums or historical societies, like Arlington Heights, Rolling Meadows, Mount Prospect, Joliet, and Lansing.
Aurora Regional Fire Museum, 53 N. Broadway St., Aurora, IL. As the title suggests, this museum celebrates and preserves the history of fire fighters and fire departments of the area. The museum has two current exhibits: one is “Getting There, Getting Water, Getting Rescued,” which chronicles the evolution of the tools and technology used by firefighters over the last 150 years. All types of historical firefighting apparatus are on display in a fully restored 1894 fire station. The other exhibit is “Museums Un-Crated,” which explores how museums decide to display items, and how they preserve them. The museum is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., with a $5 donation for adults ($3 for kids) suggested for admission.
Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, 3001 Central St., Evanston, IL. You can learn a lot about Native American culture and artwork just by spending some time at this museum. Mitchell has several exhibits viewers can experience. “Treasures of the Collection” is over 75 prized objects, including baskets, Southwestern art, beadwork, Inuit art, and ledger drawings. “The Photographs of Edward S. Curtis” shows photos of American Indians, while “The Teaching Lodge and Wigwam” is a recreated wigwam guests can enter. Learn about the contributions of American Indians to society in “Did You Know They're Native?” and see what social problems still exist in the Native American community in “Deconstructing Stereotypes: Top Ten Truths.” Mitchell is open daily, except Mondays, and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (Thursday it’s open until 8 p.m.), and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, 9603 Woods Dr., Skokie, IL. This museum remembers the history of oppressed people from the 20th Century. Come learn about the Holocaust through the Karkomi Permanent Exhibition, which has 500 artifacts, documents, and photographs to help tell the story of the Holocaust, while testimonials from survivors put a face on the horror. The Legacy of Absence Gallery has artwork depicting the genocides of Cambodia, Rwanda, Argentina, and the Soviet Gulag. And until January, The Art of Gaman will showcase arts and crafts made by people in Japanese internment camps. The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays (open to 8 p.m. Thursdays) and weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Looking for additional museums to visit in Chicago? Make sure to check out Concierge Preferred's Museum Section and start planning your day of exploration and discovery.