15 Virtual Chicago Museum Experiences for Kids

We’re missing our favorite local museums, galleries and other culture institutions in the Chicago area. While some of these local attractions are temporarily closed due to COVID-19, you can easily connect with your favorite Chicago museums at home. Read on to find virtual tours and hands-on activities to try at home.

Art Institute of Chicago

Your family can explore the art museum’s collection such as the Thorne Miniature Rooms and Monet and Chicago. Get creative at home with art-making activities, creative writing prompts and free coloring pages inspired by iconic artwork in the collection.

Adler Planetarium

For those missing the planetarium, its website is filled with online resources to keep you connected. Families will enjoy the Science at Home series and Celestial Story Time on Adler’s YouTube channel.

Chicago Architecture Center

The Chicago Architecture Center brings its programming online with CAC@Home. Each week, the center releases an issue of its mini magazine. It is also releasing a new program series, Virtual City Walks: International Edition, where you can “visit” cities like Boston, Chicago, Copenhagen, Los Angeles, New York City and Prague.

Chicago Children’s Museum

Recreate the Chicago Children’s Museum experience at home with Recipes for Play at Home. The list of activities includes chalk painting, muffin tin crayons and shadow puppets. You can also follow along the Parenting Playbook, a blog filled with more at-home ideas for little kids.

Chicago History Museum

Families can continue to learn history without leaving the house with Chicago History at Home. Chicago History Museum’s blog provides plenty of family activities. There are even weekly projects for teens to explore city neighborhoods, including Back of the Yards and Chicago’s Near West Side.

Field Museum

To help make digital learning a bit easier, the Field Museum has a learning resources hub divided by grade level and topics. You can also check out the education YouTube channel, The Brain Scoop, to get an inside look of Field’s collection. And if you’re missing Máximo, you can chat with the dinosaur and ask him question on the museum’s website.

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

The Illinois Holocaust Museum has launched a virtual museum with audio tours, a digital artifacts collection and documentaries. You can also book virtual tours of Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Kohl Children’s Museum

Kohl Children’s Museum is bringing the museum to you with Home Zone. You’ll find a variety of STEAM activities to keep kids learning. It’s also worth exploring Kohl Kids Live! Series, with highlighted activities and virtual experiences based on the museum’s interactive exhibits.

Museum of Contemporary Art

Explore the learning resources for all ages on MCA’s website. Kids can create paper dolls, squiggly window art and more. MOCA also recently brought back the popular Family Days in virtual form so that families can follow art activities on Facebook Live.

Museum of Science & Industry

Follow along as MSI shows off hands-on science experiments for kids. Previous activities include an egg carton nursery, recycled paper and slime. There are also a handful of games inspired by MSI’s permanent exhibits. Watch the museum’s website to schedule live tours of the U-505 Submarine.

National Museum of Mexican Art

Pilsen’s art museum has plenty of at-home activities ranging from coloring sheets and word searches to DIY projects. For example, learn how to make a papel picado, a decorative Mexican craft made out of tissue paper.

Oriental Institute

The Oriental Institute continues to provide at-home activities, virtual events and digital collections on its website. Try out a virtual scavenger hunt through OI’s collections or learn about board games inspired by the Ancient Middle East.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Get a behind-the-scenes look of the Nature Museum with the Curious By Nature series on YouTube. Videos include closeups of the museum’s creatures, outdoor adventures at local parks and more.

Shedd Aquarium

The aquarium is packed with digital tools for your kids. Start off with the Sea Curious YouTube series as kids ask questions about animals. Then, take a deep dive with free audio guides to learn about the belugas, sharks and penguins living at the Shedd. For a fee, your family can also experience Virtual Animal Encounters.

Smart Museum of Art

The museum’s family days have gone virtual with a new video series, Smart at Home. Start it off with pop bottle boats that make fun floating toys. Find more ways to make art with your family at home.

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