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.
My Journey into the Wilds of Chicago
An Exhibit of Photography & Storytelling
OPENING APRIL 2023
Experience the beauty of Chicagoland nature like never before in this immersive exhibit. Featuring stunning images from Chicago-based photographer Mike MacDonald, this audio and visual spectacle boasts expansive projections that span from the floor to the ceiling. From kaleidoscopic tallgrass prairies to the verdant canopies of rare oak savanna, the whimsical projections of a vast and wild Chicago region will thrill and delight visitors of all ages.
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.
Cultivating The Dutch Tradition In The 21st Century
Jane Jones’ Hyperrealist Floral Paintings
Cultivating The Dutch Tradition In The 21st Century is an exhibition that consists of twenty-five floral paintings produced by artist Jane Jones from 2012 through 2021. Jones works within the context of 17th-century Dutch floral painters while taking a contemporary stylistic approach to her own work, producing compositions which are spare and elegant.
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.
Opening in the fall of 2023, this groundbreaking new 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.
Natural Consequences: The Geoscience Embroideries of Bonnie Peterson
The urgency of climate change motivates Bonnie Peterson’s artwork. She examines geophysical climate issues in order to design explanations for some of the difficult modeling scenarios in environmental science and draw these concepts on paper or embroider them onto silk fabrics.
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.
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.
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.