Chicago History Minute
On August 30, 1847, Cyrus McCormick and future mayor Charles M. Gray begin construction of what would become Chicago's largest reaper factory.
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Benjamin Green-Field Gallery
Railroaders: Jack Delano's Homefront Photography
Open through August 10, 2015
Soldiers and civilians, food and supplies, fuel and raw materials—everything moved by rail during World War II (1941–45). America’s railroads were critical to the war effort, and the Office of War Information assigned photographer Jack Delano the job of telling the nation’s rail story in pictures. He focused his lens on the railroaders who kept the industry running, the men and women whose demanding jobs and long hours demonstrated the sacrifices needed to win the war. During the assignment, Delano captured three thousand images, two-thirds in Chicago—the heart of the nation’s rail industry.
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KPMG and Paul and Katherine Snyder Community Gallery
Vivian Maier's Chicago
Come witness the life work of a nanny turned photographer that wowed the world with breathtaking images of everyday life in Urban America. Discover Chicago faces and neighborhoods of the 1960s and 1970s from an entirely new vantage point.
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Sanger P. Robinson Gallery
Lincoln was a frequent visitor to Chicago; The city became his
second home and political headquarters during his rise to
prominence. This gallery features portraits of Lincoln’s contemporaries
with lithograph views of Chicago created in the 1860s. The pairings
provide a glimpse of the city that Lincoln knew—a dynamic young
metropolis on the verge of greatness.
The McCormick Foundation is the lead exhibition
sponsor of Lincoln’s Chicago. Education funding for Lincoln’s Chicago
is provided by JP Morgan Chase and the Terra Foundation for American
As president, Abraham Lincoln faced our nation’s greatest crisis—the Civil War. His resolve to save the Union and radical decision to end slavery transformed America. This intimate exhibition highlights Lincoln’s election in 1860, his leadership during the Civil War, and his tragic assassination. Together these stories honor a great leader whose legacy endures.
The Abraham Lincoln installation is supported by a gift from The Gupta Family with additional support from The Joyce Foundation in honor of Lawrence N. Hansen.
Please note: Lincoln’s deathbed will be traveling to Springfield, Illinois in mid-October, where it will be featured in a new exhibition at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Co-curated by the Museum’s Libby Mahoney, Undying Words: Abraham Lincoln 1858-1865 examines Lincoln’s evolving views on slavery through five key speeches and related artifacts, several of which are from our collection. Undying Words runs from November 22, 2014 through February 2016.
Kovler Family Lobby
What’s the most surprising thing about a collection made up of millions artifacts? A single artifact! This world-class collection holds the second largest costume collection in the world including clothing and accessories as well as thousands of linear feet of archives and manuscripts that make up the equivalent of forty-nine football fields or twelve Willis Towers. Unexpected Chicago is a way to reveal unexpected treasures of Chicago history a single artifact at a time.
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Unexpected Chicago is supported by a gift from The Jacob and Rosaline Cohn Foundation.
The 1968 Exhibit
Opens Saturday, October 4
This is the unforgettable story of an extraordinary year. Trace the relentless year 1968, from Vietnam to the flight of Apollo 8. Remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. Revisit the battles for civil rights and the explosive Democratic National Convention held that August in Chicago. Don’t miss this limited engagement. Peace, baby.
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The 1968 Exhibit is produced by the Minnesota History Center in partnership with the Atlanta History Center, Chicago History Museum, and Oakland Museum of California.
Costume and Textile Gallery
Fashioning The Magnificent Mile ®
Open November 15, 2014–August 16, 2015
Featuring more than twenty ensembles from the Museum’s permanent collection, Chicago Styled explores the development of North Michigan Avenue into one of the country’s most recognized and renowned destinations for upscale retail. Set against a shifting cityscape, the clothing tells the story of the growth of this landmark district, while showcasing the fashion from past decades and the stylish people who wore it. Highlights include designs by Norman Norell, Adolfo, Gianni Versace, and Chanel.
Opening Fall 2015
This fall, we asked Chicagoans which great Chicago story they’d like to see presented as a future exhibition at the Museum. Thousands of you told us your ideas. We identified the sixteen most mentioned topics, and created a three-round tournament for people to choose their favorite.
Thanks for helping us fulfill our mission by sharing the city's stories!
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The Naphtali ben Yakov Pritzker American History
What does freedom mean? To whom should freedom be extended? How are
denied rights gained? These are some of the questions the new American
history exhibition explores. Based on the central idea that the history
of the United States has been shaped by conflicts over what it means to
be free, this new exhibition uses images, artifacts, and interactivity
to explore familiar and not-so-familiar stories from the nation’s past.
From women's suffrage and the formation of unions, to Japanese
internment, to a local school boycott, the exhibition highlights some
of the ways Americans have struggled over the true meaning of
Chicago: Crossroads of America
Discover the city's vast history in Chicago: Crossroads of
America. Whether you are interested in Chicago's changing economy,
challenging crises, diverse neighborhoods, groundbreaking innovations,
or lively cultural scene, this exhibition is a must see!
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about Crossroads and preview highlights
Konen Family Children's Gallery
Use your five senses to explore Chicago, uncover the past, and discover that history is all around you. The Konen Family Children's Gallery invites families to ride a high-wheel bicycle, hear the Great Chicago Fire, catch a fly ball at Comiskey Park, smell the city's past, and be a Chicago-style hot dog.
Tawani Foundation Diorama Hall
Our much-loved dioramas have been restored and are better than ever! Visit the Tawani Foundation Diorama Hall to learn the story of Chicago's rise from a desolate frontier outpost in 1804 to the bustling city that hosted the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. Engaging details invite you to look closely and put history into a larger context.
This series of building-wide installations promises to surprise you from the moment you step in
the door. Highlights include a 1978 Chevrolet Monte Carlo lowrider, souvenirs from Chicago's
world's fairs, and Abraham Lincoln's deathbed.
> View the lowrider video