What better way to begin the New Year than by enjoying a quiet winter afternoon within the warm and friendly embrace of any of seven Chicago’s premier museums.
1st Stop: Driehaus Museum
Often referred to as Chicago's Downton Abbey, The Richard H. Driehaus Museum immerses visitors in one of the grandest residential buildings of 19th-century Chicago, the Gilded Age home of banker Samuel Mayo Nickerson and his wife, Mathilda Pinkham Crosby Nickerson. Philanthropist Richard H. Driehaus founded the museum on April 1, 2003 with a vision to influence today’s built environment by preserving and promoting architecture and design of the past. To realize his vision, Mr. Driehaus commissioned a five-year restoration effort to preserve the structure and its magnificent interiors.
Today the galleries feature surviving furnishings paired with elegant, historically-appropriate pieces from the Driehaus Collection of Fine and Decorative Arts, including important works by such celebrated designers as George A. Schastey and Louis Comfort Tiffany.
The Museum is a premier example of historic preservation, offering visitors an opportunity to experience through its architecture, interiors, collection, and exhibitions how the prevailing design philosophies of the period were interpreted by artists, architects, and designers at the waning of the 19th-century and the dawn of the 20th-century.
Located at 40 East Erie Street within easy walking distance of Water Tower Place and Lookingglass Theatre.
Plan your visit by first exploring the Driehaus Museum website.
2nd Stop: Contemporary Art Museum, MCA Chicago
MCA champions the provocative side of contemporary art and culture. Our innovative exhibitions, performances, and programs will inspire you.
Founded in 1967 as a Kunsthalle, or noncollecting art gallery, the MCA is now one of the world’s largest museums dedicated to art since 1945. Since our inception, it has been our mission to exhibit new and experimental work artists in all media, paired with ambitious education programs.
In 1974, the MCA expanded our mission to include collecting and preserving contemporary art for future generations with the inauguration of a permanent collection that has grown to include more than 2,000 works. After 29 years in a storefront on Ontario Street, the museum moved to our current location in 1996, giving our collection, exhibitions, and programming room to evolve to meet the needs of 21st-century art and audiences.
Located within easy walking distance one block east of the historic Water Tower and Lookingglass Theatre. Learn more by exploring the MCA website.
3rd Stop: Art Institute Of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago was founded in 1879. It is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the U.S. The original building was constructed for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. The most recent expansion, the Modern Wing, pictured above, opened in 2009. The famous western entrance on Michigan Avenue is guarded by two bronze lion statues created by Edward Kerneys. The lions each weigh more than two tons. The museum’s east entrance is marked by the stone arch entrance to the old Chicago Stock Exchange designed by Louis Sullivan.
Tickets: Senior rate Fast Pass admission is $29. The Skydeck Combination ticket includes admission to Skydeck Chicago and the Ledge, a glass balcony extending four feet outside of the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower costs $46.
Highlights: Making Memories – Quilts as Souvenirs, Modern Art in Brazil, Andrew Lord Bronze and Ceramic Sculpture, Soviet Art, Holiday Rooms
Three restaurants on-site
Free Wi-Fi, free wheelchairs
Located next door to Millennium Park, including Cloud Gate and Lurie Garden
Access to many nearby restaurants and shopping
Learn more from the Art Institute website.
4th Stop: Field Museum of Natural History
The Field Museum is located at Museum Campus, near the Adler Planetarium and the Shedd Aquarium. It is named after Chicago’s favorite retailer, Marshall Field, who gave a $1m gift to establish the museum. It first opened in 1894 in the former Palace of Fine Arts Building, and moved to its present site in 1921. In 1962, the museum hosted the first exhibition of “Tutankhamen Treasures.” In 2000, SUE, the largest, most complete, and best preserved T.rex ever discovered, was unveiled to the public. In 2011, the museum’s bathroom was voted the best in the country.
Tickets: Senior rate is $19 – 31, depending on the number of special exhibits included
Highlights: SUE the T. rex, 3D Films, Jurassic World special exhibit
Two restaurants on-site
Free Wi-Fi, free wheelchairs, free daily tours including SUE talk at noon
5th Stop: Shedd Aquarium
The Shedd houses an indoor public aquarium that first opened in 1930. It was a gift to Chicago by John G. Shedd, a protégé of Marshall Field. Located on Lake Michigan, it is part of Museum Campus which includes the Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum. Several of the sea otters that lived in the aquarium in the past were rescued from the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. The aquarium contains 1,500 species, including fish, marine mammals, birds, snakes, amphibians and insects. It is one of the most popular museums in Chicago.
Tickets: $39.95 (Senior discount of $3 taken on-site) plus $4.95 for 4D movie
Highlights: Amazon Rising, Caribbean and Wild Reefs, Amphibians
Three restaurants, coffee shop and popcorn kiosk onsite
Free Wi-Fi, free wheelchairs and walkers
6th Stop: Adler Planetarium
The Adler Planetarium is dedicated to the study of astronomy and astrophysics. It was founded in 1930 by Chicago business leader Max Adler. It is part of Museum Campus that includes the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum. It is home to three theaters, extensive space science exhibitions and the Doane Observatory. The observatory is one of the only public urban observatories in the U.S.
Tickets: Senior rate is $8.50 - $18.50, depending on number of special shows included
Highlights: Planet Nine, Cosmic Wonder, Destination Solar System, Skywatch Live, Chasing Eclipses, Mission Moon
One restaurant on-site, free Wi-Fi and free wheelchairs
7th and Final Stop: Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) is housed in the former Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. It is the oldest science museum of its kind in the Western Hemisphere and one of the largest science museums in the world. The exhibits include a full-size replica coal mine, a German submarine captured during WW II, a 3,500 sq. ft. model railroad, and the Apollo 8 spacecraft that carried the first humans to orbit the Moon. The museum covers 14 acres and is home to more than 400,000 sq. ft. of exhibits.
Tickets: $18 - $54, depending on the number of special exhibits included
Highlights: Brick by Brick Lego Exhibit, Robot Revolution, U-505 Submarine Tour, Giant Dome 5-story wrap-around theatre, Dream Big Engineering Marvels
Two restaurants and ice cream parlor on-site, free Wi-Fi and free wheelchairs
Learn more from the MSI website.
Chicago Museum a la Carte Trip Tips
After you decide which museum(s) you want to visit, consider purchasing your tickets online in advance. This will save you time spent standing in line. Some of the museums have long lines on the weekends.
All of the museums have good accessibility and onsite dining.
Bring along your seated four-wheel walker to provide more range and stability for sustained exploring.
See the trip itinerary below for the schedule of museum stops.
ItineraryBear in mind that our boarding bus route is like Madison Metro or any other municipal bus service. Please arrive early at your boarding stop so you don’t miss the bus. When everyone is aboard and seated, we leave. Arrive early and we will all arrive in Chicago on time to begin our adventure.
– Don’t be late. We can wait just 5 minutes at any one location.
– Pack water bottles and snacks for sustenance on the trip.
7:30 AM Bus arrives at Oakwood University Woods to begin boarding.
7:55 AM Arrive at Capitol Lakes
8:10 AM Arrive at East Towne Sears
8:20 AM Depart for Chicago (Or, sooner if everyone is aboard)
11:00 AM Arrive Lookingglass Theatre, Contemporary Art Museum (MCA) Chicago, Driehaus Museum and Water Tower Place.
11:20 AM Arrive Art Institute of Chicago
11:30 AM Arrive Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Alder Planetarium
11:45 AM Arrive Museum of Science and Industry
2:00 PM Hard Times performance begins
3:30 PM Pick up Museum of Science and Industry
3:45 PM Pick up Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Plantetarium
4:00 PM Pick up Art Institute of Chicago
4:20 PM Arrive Lookingglass Theatre, Contemporary Art Museum (MCA) Chicago, Driehaus Museum and Water Tower Place.
4:30 PM Hard Times performance ends
4:30 PM - 4:50 PM Boarding preparation period
4:50 PM Depart for Madison (Or, sooner if everyone is aboard)
Arrive Madison (Est)
7:50 PM East Towne Sears
8:10 PM Capitol Lakes
8:30 PM Oakwood University Woods
Non-Member Policy. Members must register their guests. Each PLATO member is entitled to bring one non-member guest per bus trip. (Members may bring more than one guest near the registration Deadline Date if seats are available. Check with trip organizer.) Non-member guests pay an additional $15.00 registration fee. PLATO Membership is $60.00/year.
Accessibility Accessibility Policy. On the Van Galder Bus, you must be able to climb steps to board and exit the bus. If you need assistance, we recommend that you bring a friend to give you a hand.
Chicago Museums a la Carte Mail-in Registration Form (including instructions):PLATO Members Form
For further information, contact Chicago Museums a la Carte field trip organizer, Martha Zudowsky, email@example.com and 608-213-6907.