12 New and Upcoming Chicagoland Museum Exhibits to Check Out

If you’re looking for a reason to pick up a timed ticket to a local attraction, there are some great exhibitions that make the trip worthwhile. From an immersive Van Gogh exhibition to having fun with Hot Wheels, there’s a little something for everyone. Check out these new exhibits in Chicago and the suburbs.

Current and upcoming Chicago exhibits

Monet & Chicago

Through June 14, 2021

The museum’s 33 paintings and 13 drawings constitute the largest collection of works by Claude Monet outside of Paris. Among the more than 70 paintings in the exhibition – from the Art Institute’s exemplary holdings and esteemed Chicago-based collections – are beloved major works as well as rarely seen still lifes, figural scenes, seascapes and more. 

Apsáalooke Women and Warriors

Apsáalooke Women and Warriors at The Field Museum, Photo by John Weinstein

Through July 18, 2021

Families will learn about the history, values, and beliefs of the Apsáalooke (Ahp-SAH-luh-guh) people of the Northern Plains, also known as the Crow. From 100-year-old war shields to contemporary beadwork and fashion, Apsáalooke community members tell their stories and share vibrant works of art.

Bisa Butler: Portraits

From Bisa Butler: Portraits at Art Institute Chicago. Southside Sunday Morning, 2018. Private collection. © Bisa Butler. Photo by Margaret Fox.

Through Sept. 6, 2021

Bisa Butler’s portrait quilts vividly capture personal and historical narratives of Black life. She strategically uses textiles to interrogate the historical marginalization of her subjects while using scale and subtle detail to convey her subjects’ complex individuality. Bisa Butler: Portraits is the first solo museum exhibition of the artist’s work and will include more than 20 portraits. 

Immersive Van Gogh

Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit Chicago, Photo Credit: Immersive Van Gogh

Through Sept. 6, 2021

Take a look at the world’s most iconic impressionist artist, Vincent Van Gogh, in this fully immersive exhibition in Chicago. The U.S. premiere of this exhibit allows visitors to transport into Van Gogh’s most famous masterpieces with large-scale projections that cover the entire room, along with music, storytelling and socially-distant circles.

Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes

Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes, Photo Credit MoPop

Begins March 4, 2021

Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes celebrates Marvel history with more than 300 artifacts including original comic book pages, sculptures, interactive displays and costumes and props from Marvel’s blockbuster films. Guests can examine the origins of iconic characters such as Spider-Man, Black Panther, Hulk and Captain Marvel and see how they have evolved alongside society over the past 80 years, making these characters a pop culture mainstay.

Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition

Photo Credit: J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

April 7-July 5, 2021

The longest-running exhibition of African-American art in the U.S. features more than 100 dynamic works of art from amateur and professional African-American artists from around the nation, as well as a youth category which features work by a dozen area high school artists. A new feature in 2021 will be an online art gallery, providing even more people the opportunity to view the artwork if they are unable to visit the Museum in person. 

Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Dr. Jane Goodall

Each evening in her tent, researcher Jane Goodall would write up data from her field notebooks, recounting the chimp behavior she observed that day. Photo by Hugo Van Lawick, Jane Goodall Institute

May 21-Sept. 6, 2021

Highlights of the exhibition include some of Dr. Goodall’s childhood belongings, such as a beloved stuffed monkey, interspersed with stories about her as a budding naturalist, studying a chicken coop at age 4. The exhibition also features augmented reality interactives that invite visitors to try their hand at chimpanzee vocalizations, a hologram-like projection of Dr. Goodall sharing her memories of living among the chimpanzees, and a replica of her field research tent.

Current and upcoming Chicago suburban exhibits 

Mandela: Struggle for Freedom

Maldela at Illinois Holocaust Museum, photo courtesy of Jessica Sigurdson, Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Feb. 20-Sept. 6, 2021

Families can learn about the life of Nelson Mandela, one of the most famous human rights defenders of the 20th century and the face of a movement against racial injustice. The new exhibition details his life in five zones – Apartheid, Defiance, Repression, Mobilization, and Freedom – through interactive exhibits, artifacts and objects, oral histories, videos and art.

Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails

Through April 4, 2021

Kids can climb into Thomas’ cab then explore the Island of Sodor in an intimate exhibit allowed to groups of 10 or fewer. Exclusive to Very Important Play participants during this phase of the museum’s opening, kids will have private access to the exhibit. They can load luggage on to the cars, fill Percy’s coal and water, sell tickets and more.

Hot Wheels: Race to Win

Through May 16, 2021

This new family exhibit will get you revved up with immersive activities for generations of Hot Wheels fans. Families can team up to build and test the fastest (and safest) speed machines on the planet, using Hot Wheels die-cast cars to experiment and play. Also, get a behind-the-scenes look at the thrilling world of racing investigates the scientific process for designing super-fast cars and helps families who have the need for speed understand how it is achieved.

To The Moon: Snoopy Soars with NASA

To the Moon: Snoopy Soars with NASA, copyright 2021 Peanuts Worldwide

May 14-Aug. 29, 2021

Just before the first man landed on the moon, Snoopy soared through space with NASA’s Apollo 10 mission in May of 1969. This new touring exhibition from the Charles M. Schulz Museum examines the history of Apollo 10 and the Peanuts characters’ role in that historic flight and NASA’s Manned Flight Awareness safety program.

Frida Kahlo: Timeless

Photo from Nickolas Muray Archives

June 5-Sept. 6, 2021

Frida Kahlo: Timeless will be the largest Frida Kahlo exhibition in the Chicago area in more than 40 years. It features a 26-piece collection on loan from the Museo Dolores Olmedo as well as a multimedia timeline, 100+ photographic images from the artist’s life, a family-friendly children’s area and a Frida Kahlo inspired garden.


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