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close-up of butterfly emerging from chrysalis

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.

Scroll down for a list of temporary and permanent exhibits currently on display.

  • Iguanas

    Dragons Alive! The Science and Culture of Reptiles

    Dragons await you! The exhibit features 10 species of reptiles from around the world for you to see up close. Stare into the deep eyes of the bearded dragon, measure yourself against the mighty black-throated monitor, and wonder at the beauty of the colorful jeweled lacerta. The frilled dragon, blue-tongued skink, and the majestic uromastyx are ready to show you how these fierce creatures have inspired people throughout the ages.

    Learn More

  • Academy staff member holding wet collection jar

    How to Collect a Dragon

    For the most curious adventurers, How to Collect a Dragon is a survey of historic and contemporary specimen-collecting practices, through the lens of our fluid preserved collection. Experience a selection from our 23,260-piece wet collection of reptiles and amphibians, and learn how these specimens are helping scientists today.

  • Girl admiring butterfly in haven

    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 Haven is the perfect tropical retreat.

    Learn More
  • October Waves #25 by Sandra Gottlieb

    October Waves

    Sandra Gottlieb has created a striking series of photographs of the skies and waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Inspired by the Modernist painter Milton Avery, Gottlieb visited the seashore each day at sunset during the October 2013 hurricane season. October Waves masterfully captures changing light and shifting tides, inviting viewers to connect to their own memories of the timeless quality of the experience at the edge of the sea.

    Exhibition organized through Katharine T. Carter & Associates.

  • Pattern in Nature

    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.

  • Child in Hands-on Habitat

    Hands-on Habitat

    Knee-high naturalists can explore the secret world of animal homes. Adventures include exploring an underground cave, a giant roped spider web and a busy beaver lodge.
  • child looking at animal skeleton specimens

    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.

  • child looking into enclosure

    Istock Family Look-in Lab

    Watch as Museum scientists and volunteers care for and study the animals that comprise the Museum's Living Collection.

  • Child playing in water exhibit


    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.

  • Child looking into turtle tank

    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?

  • Family in Wilderness Walk diroama

    Wilderness Walk

    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.

  • Birdwalk in afternoon

    Micole Birdwalk

    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.

  • Geology specimens

    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.

  • Bluejay behind glass

    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.

  • Green House

    Extreme Green House

    See the nature inside your house and the ecology within your walls. Take a tour with the Green family and discover the way the environment connects all of us.
  • Child interacting with food exhibit

    Nature's LunchBox

    At Nature's LunchBox, discover how food and nature are connected. The fascinating life cycle of food  from the farm all the way to the fork  is explained with panel displays and interactive components.

  • Visitors exploring trails

    Nature Trails

    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.

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