Originally written for Suite101 and published on 01/03/09 – now hosted at Xomba.

Perhaps the perfect place to take those annoying people who claim ‘American History’ is a contradiction in terms to prove them utterly wrong.

The Chicago Field Museum stands in good company, surrounded as it is on its little peninsula known appropriately as Museum Campus by the John G. Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium. Originally known as the Columbian Museum of Chicago and housed in a building that stood where the Museum of Science and Industry now stands; it gained its new name in 1905 and moved to its current location in 1921.

Meet Sue

Standing majestically at the end of the museum’s main hall is the Field Museum’s most famous exhibit: the Tyrannosaurus Rex ‘Sue’. At 42ft long head to tail and 13ft high at the hip, Sue is the largest, most complete and best preserved T. rex yet discovered.

Due to her head being so heavy, a replica stands in for it on her skeleton, while the original is on display upstairs. It forms part of an exhibition on how she was put together, which includes casts of her limbs that visitors can touch and animated CT scans of her skull. Although primarily a natural history museum, the Field museum also houses a wide range of cultural history exhibitions, which makes it popular with all ages.

Permanent and Temporary Exhibitions

Ancient history is something of a specialization for the Field Museum from Ancient Egypt – whose exhibit contains a full sized replica of a Pharaoh’s tomb – to the Aztecs. Field Museum researchers are currently conducting research on ancient Chinese settlements, and their work closer to home has been challenging assumptions about ancient civilisation in North and South America.

The recently opened Ancient Americas exhibition stretches back almost 13,000 years to the earliest Ice-Age settlers, and forward through to the fall of the Aztec empire. A wide-ranging exhibition covering the evolution of farming, art and warfare in the many vastly different civilisations that rose and fell up and down the continents.

A wide range of temporary exhibitions – usually around six months in duration – from an even wider range of historical periods keep the museum fresh. From the Rise and Fall of the Aztec World, to the life of the creatures that live underground, to the truth about real pirates, they tell stories fascinating to children and adults alike.

Getting There and Admission

Located at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605-2496

Opening Hours:

Monday – Saturday: 10 am to 5pm

Sunday: 11am to 5pm

Last admission 4pm. Open every day except Christmas.

East entrance is disabled accessible and wheelchairs are available to borrow from security. For further information and bookings call 312.922.9410 or visit www.fieldmuseum.org

Chicago Field Musuem

Chicago Field Museum at Twilight