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.
An Explorer’s Journey into a Changing Climate
Opening Saturday, June 18, An Explorer’s Journey into a Changing Climate showcases the compelling nautical adventures of photographer, sailor, and climate activist David Thoreson. Follow Thoreson’s Arctic voyages by closely examining his stunning photography and fascinating personal artifacts, such as journals and exploration equipment. The exhibit highlights how anyone and everyone can be an explorer and a scientist by observing the world around them.
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 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.
“I am drawn to the landscape at the intersections where water meets land and sky. In my paintings, I explore the ever-changing forces of nature, the bending of terrain and shifting of light on the moving ocean.” Stephen Estrada’s paintings reflect an intimate, human connection with the natural world. His work traces his personal journey from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast, as well as travels in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico where he has worked to rebuild homes after hurricanes Katrina and Michael.
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 Summer 2022, this sprawling exhibit will upgrade and expand Hands-on Habitat—replacing the basement of the Extreme Green House and doubling the space of our beloved open play area. Introducing Nature’s PlaySpace—an interactive experience that will connect our youngest guests to nature in new ways.
Opening in early 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.
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.
The Secret Forest
Step through a “door into nature” to immerse yourself in a variety of natural environments that ignite curiosity and unlock creativity.
The Secret Forest will be closed to Museum visitors Tuesday, July 5, through Friday, July 8, and Monday, July 11, through Friday, July 18. We apologize for the inconvenience, and appreciate your patience.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.