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.
The Hawver and Lacy Families Nature’s PlaySpace
The Hawver and Lacy Families Nature’s PlaySpace is an interactive experience that will connect our youngest guests to nature in new ways. Splash, climb, and crawl your way through our brand-new play area! Children up to age 7 can explore a variety of nature-themed sections and stimulate their senses with over 25 fun interactives!
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.
The Art of Ezra Tucker
Ezra Tucker is an artist who established his career as a painter by painting wildlife, most notably large mammals. More recently, he has focused on historic Black experience in The American West. This exhibition consists of 40 paintings produced by the artist from 1985 through 2023.
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 animals in enrichment activities or feeding our box turtles and snakes, 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 wetlands 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.
Paintings by Nina Weiss
Based in Evanston, Illinois, Nina Weiss has been painting and drawing the landscape for over 40 years. GROUNDED brings together paintings from her most recent work and research into endangered Prairies throughout the US, emphasizing those here in Illinois.
Deb Lahey Nature Trails
The fun continues outside the Museum walls at our largest permanent exhibition! Measuring 1/3 of a mile, the Deb Lahey Nature Trails highlight the native regions of Illinois through restored vignettes, gardens, and more all year long. You’ll be inspired by the abundance of nature that surrounds us, even in this urban environment.
The Sustainability Center
This exhibit and resource center will serve as a community hub for guests to discover up-to-date sustainability practices and technologies. Designed for all ages to enjoy, the Sustainability Center will lean on immersive storytelling through continually updated digital content and will feature an open-concept area used for working, reading, and mingling.
The Secret Forest
Step through a “door into nature” to immerse yourself in a variety of natural environments that ignite curiosity and unlock creativity.
Note: This exhibit space may be used for private events and programming, and may be closed to the general public at times.
Life on the Pond
The Photography of Bob Benenson
Showcasing the photography of journalist Bob Benenson, Life on the Pond gives us a glimpse into the thriving habitat of North Pond amid the majestic silhouette of Chicago’s Skyline. Experience the hidden diversity of North Pond through thought provoking images and glimpse into the history and future developments of this iconic nature preserve in Lincoln Park. With hundreds of species calling North Pond home, it is a sanctuary of nature and recreation in the midst of our bustling city.
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 to get a glimpse of our city before it became a modern city!
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.
Birds of Chicago
Get up close to the birds you see in your backyard. More than 115 specimens—including the Midwest turkey, cardinal, and endangered Prairie chicken—are on display from the Chicago Academy of Sciences Collections.
The Art of Saving Cranes
The Art of Saving Cranes features 12 unique pieces from the International Crane Foundation’s art collection. Celebrating 50 years of critical conservation work, the ICF is the world center for the study and preservation of cranes. Through art, the exhibit explores the Foundation’s 50 Years of conservation work to save cranes around the world, from its founding to today and work of its founder George Archibald. The exhibit serves to show how conservation can unite people from diverse cultures and countries to work together to preserve the landscapes necessary for the survival of both cranes and people.
Heritage of the Chicago Academy of Sciences
Celebrate and be inspired by a snapshot of the Academy’s 165-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.
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.