Things To Do While Self-Isolating in Chicago: Part 6 — Visit 9 Museums in Your Underpants

It’s been a lot of years since the average Chicago family could afford to visit one of the big-name hometown museums.  With lunch, transportation, and parking, taking a family of four for an afternoon of culture can easily cost more than a car payment.   

Since this is a quarantine, and not a vacation, we can’t Amtrak it down to Saint Louis, where world-class museums are free. So what’s an average pizza-eating, Sox-rooting, budget-having Chicago-dweller to do?  Visit Chicago’s museums online!

Many of Chicago’s museums are available to tour on the intarwebs.  You don’t have to pay for parking, then buy admission tickets, then shell out for special exhibit tickets, then get herded through the gift shop while being bombarded by corporate advertising and the shrieks of children too young to be in polite company.  

So gather your well-behaved kids around the biggest screen in the house, and pick from this selection of online options:

Screenshot from Adler Planetarium’s web site

Adler Planetarium 

The Adler has a number of its collections on its web site to view.   And like most Chicago museums, the planetarium also has a partnership with Google Arts and Culture, available here.  But as with all Google partnerships, using it involves selling your privacy to Big G.  Kick your browser into private mode and fire up your VPN for safety.

Screenshot from Art Institute of Chicago’s web site

Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago also has a Google museum, with over 500 items on display.  And since it’s an art museum, the content translates to the screen very well.

Screenshot from Brookfield Zoo’s Facebook page

Brookfield Zoo

The people out in Brookfield — where the area’s largest zoo is — are posting more cute animal videos online than you can shake a stick insect at.  Facebook is the gateway drug for this one.

Screenshot from Chicago History Museum’s Google site

Chicago History Museum

Not just for school field trips anymore, the Chicago History Museum is all about you.  Or at least the interesting people who lived in your neighborhood before you did.

Screenshot from DuSable Museum’s Google site

DuSable Museum

Though the DuSable Museum doesn’t have the prime real estate of other Chicago museums, the internet is a great equalizer, and it can be right there on Google’s museum platform next to the others.

Screenshot from Field Museum’s web site

Field Museum

The Field has a number of interesting stores, articles, and videos online right on its own web site.  A more complete experience can be had at its Google A&C page. It’s just the sort of thing you can use as the antidote for your latest Netflix binge.

Screenshot from National Museum of Mexican Art’s Google site

National Museum of Mexican Art

Everyone complains about how Pilsen isn’t what it was ten years ago.  But if you broaden your cultural palette beyond the latest trendy underground retro-cool taco joints, the spirit of Pilsen is still alive at the National Museum of Mexican Art

Screenshot from Oriental Institute’s Google site

Oriental Institute

This is our favorite Chicago museum; and also one that we don’t visit often enough because we get distracted by all the other things there are to see in the area now.  If you’ve neglected visiting in a while, you can channel your inner Indiana Jones at its Google link.

Screenshot from Shedd Aquarium’s Facebook page

Shedd Aquarium

During the shutdown, the Shedd has been doing some really great stuff.  Stuff that’s been getting attention around the world, including letting the penguins wander around outside the building! Unfortunately, to see it, you have to sell your privacy to another big Silicon Valley advertising company, Facebook.  But if you’re already inured to having your personal information swimming with Jacques Zuckerburg, go nuts!


Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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