Sure, these exhibits aren’t the latest, but they’re definitely among the greatest. If it’s been awhile since you poked around Chicago’s famed cultural institutions, here’s a few of our favorite tried n’ true sections — they’re even better the second (or tenth!) time around.
Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle
Fresh from its meticulous renovation, the stunning Fairy Castle of silent film star Colleen Moore is a marvelous must-see. Although epic in size (for a dollhouse, that is), the accouterments in each carefully appointed room are tiny, yet exquisite. Whether you’re playing I Spy with details straight out of literature or gawking at priceless antiques, the Fairy Castle is an open house you won’t want to miss.
Runner up: Science Storms
You never age out of this immersive exhibit — and you’re never too cool to excitedly steer a 40-foot tornado. Sand storms? Pendulums? Rainbows? This first stop on the main floor is the last word for scientific fun.
5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
Thorne Miniatures Room
More tiny displays? Oh yes — especially when the rooms in question are the painstakingly constructed abodes which encapsulate living quarters from 13th century Europe to America in the 1930s. No matter how often you visit these gems, there’s always something special to discover, whether it’s a previously unnoticed puppy or a pathway through a doorway left ajar. (And if it happens to inspire some chandelier or grand staircase reinvention of your own, all the better.)
Runner up: Arthur Rubloff Collection of Paperweights
An entire gallery devoted to paperweights? Absolutely. Kids and adults alike clamor for these gorgeous displays, from the walls of shimmering fruit to the perfectly captured honeybees in mid-flight. The cross-section of how these beauties are crafted is fascinating, and might just spark the imagination of your future artisan.
111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
Inside Ancient Egypt
Everyone hears “Field” and thinks “Sue” (and with good reason!), but the Egyptian portion of the museum contains not only the Midwest’s largest collection of mummies, but also one of the country’s few chances to explore a legitimate tomb. (Is there really a cat in there? All whiskers point to yes.)
Runner up: Gidwitz Hall of Birds
If it’s been awhile since you’ve explored the stunning (and gigantic) Hall of Birds, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see the fun technological updates to the gallery of feathered friends. Ornithology: Meet iPads.
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago