From live native animals to nature-inspired art, from toddler-friendly play spaces to dozens of exotic butterfly species, our exhibits are sure to entertain, educate, and excite guests of all ages.
All exhibits are included with admission to the Nature Museum. Below is a list of our current exhibits.
Weather to Climate: Our Changing World
Weather to Climate presents the fundamentals of weather and climate, and explains how the two phenomena are connected through fun interactives and engaging content.
Judy Istock Butterfly Haven
The Judy Istock Butterfly Haven is the Museum’s internationally renowned signature 2,700-square-foot greenhouse. Home to more than 1,000 free-flying butterflies (40 species), the Butterfly Haven is the perfect tropical retreat.
John Agnew is an artist of the natural world. Fascinated by dinosaurs as a child, he never grew out of it and regards crocodilians as living representatives from the age of the giant reptiles. He has drawn and painted reptiles of all sorts, including dinosaurs, but feels that crocodilians are especially well suited to the medium of scratchboard because of their interesting textures.
Istock Family Look-in Lab
Watch as Museum scientists and volunteers care for and study the animals that comprise the Museum’s living collection. Whether it’s engaging our rats in enrichment activities or feeding our box turtles, there’s always something to see in the Look-In Lab.
Mysteries of the Marsh
Learn about one of the most famous former marshes in the world — Chicago! Explore seven different types of wetland you can find near your home and animals that live there. Did you know that nearly two-thirds of the endangered species in Illinois are found in wetlands?
Splash your way through this exhibit as you discover that the only real lazy rivers are the ones you find at water parks. Rivers are nature’s own flood controls and are filled with species of fish, herons, beavers and painted turtles. Interact with RiverWorks by reversing the flow of the river, turn the river into a lake, build your own dam, and even control a water turbine.
Without a Trace
Showcasing photography by Zbigniew Bzdak, Without a Trace aims to provide a space for healing and reflection for everyone who has been impacted by the consequences of a worldwide health crisis. As we discover ourselves to be deeply fragile in this equilibrium that links us to nature, the images of an empty City of Chicago remind us how precarious our human condition can be.
The Secret Forest
Step through a “door into nature” to immerse yourself in a variety of natural environments that ignite curiosity and unlock creativity.
Birds of Chicago
Get up close to the birds you see in your backyard and discover how to identify them by their sounds. More than 115 specimens— including the Midwest turkey, cardinal, and endangered Prairie chicken— are on display from the Chicago Academy of Sciences Collections. Choose which ones you want to hear by touching the screen on the interactive kiosk.
Beecher Collections Laboratory
Named after the legendary former director of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, William J. Beecher, this is a place to see scientists engaged in real taxidermy of birds, skunks, coyotes, and more.
Pattern in Nature: A Bridge between Art and the Natural World
Pattern in Nature presents a new body of work by Chicago-based artist Katherine Lampert. Inspired by an ammonite fossil found in the Chicago Academy of Sciences’ collection, Lampert’s mixed media work is a study of patterns naturally occurring in nature. Each work originates from a photographic study of a baculites fossil, a genus of cephalopods that went extinct 65 million years ago.
So many different environments are found in Chicago. Walk through a recreation of a prairie, savanna, and dune, complete with authentic sounds and preserved animals.
Heritage of the Chicago Academy of Sciences
Celebrate and be inspired by a snapshot of the Academy’s 160-year legacy of scientific research of Chicago and the region. A mount of a porcupine, a Blanding’s turtle skeleton, and mammal skins are just a few of the samples on display.
The fun continues outside the Museum walls at our largest permanent exhibition! Nature Trails is a nearly 1/3 mile trail where you’ll be inspired by the abundance of nature that surrounds us, even in this urban environment.
Learn all about the life cycle of food — from the farm, to the supermarket, to the compost bin — in Nature’s Lunchbox. Explore what’s cooking, water and watch a tomato plant grow, and more through fun interactives.
Please Note: This exhibit is currently closed.
Look through binoculars to see the variety of birds that surround North Pond. Listen to bird calls at interactive kiosks while enjoying views of Chicago’s gorgeous skyline.
Please Note: Hands-On Habitat and Extreme Green House are closed as our team begins construction on a new expanded play area— Nature’s PlaySpace. Click here for details.