In a city full of museums, art galleries and skyscrapers, The Field Museum stands out as one of Chicago’s top tourist attractions. Founded in 1893 as the Colombian Museum of Chicago, The Field Museum is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. It is also the home to the most complete T. Rex ever found. With roughly 1.39 million visitors last year alone, the Field Museum has proven time and time again to be popular with tourists of all ages.
The Field Museum continues to be at the forefront of scientific education for all ages with four different learning centers dedicated to conservation and research. Visitors to the Field Museum can spend an entire day combing through its collections, with exhibits dedicated to world cultures, endangered animals, and fossils. Below are five of the resident highlights of the Field Museum that every visitor should see:
- SUE the T. Rex. Sue is the most popular attraction at The Field Museum. Her massive frame greets you as soon as you step into the lobby, cementing her place as the crown jewel of The Field Museum. Her head is on the second floor in a glass case; weighing in at over 600 pounds, it’s far too heavy to be with the rest of her fossil. She has been on display since 2000, and since then has drawn over 16 million visitors.
- Ancient Egypt. The Ancient Egypt collection is set up inside a replica of an Egyptian tomb. The tomb spans all three stories of the museum and is full of hieroglyphs, sarcophagi, and even a Book of the Dead. The Egyptian marketplace exhibit details what daily life in Ancient Egypt was like. You can even peer inside the remnants of an actual sarcophagus. The museum shows a companion film to the exhibit, but you don’t have to see the film to enjoy the collection.
- Tsavo Lions. The Tsavo Lions may not be as well-known as SUE, but theirs is a story draped in both blood and infamy. The Tsavo Lions were famous at one time; the pair terrorized a Kenyan railroad camp for over ninth months in the late 19th century. People claimed the lions ate over 130 people at the time but scientific testing estimates the final number was closer to 35. Their skins and skulls were donated in the 1920s by Lt. Col. John Patterson, the British Army officer who killed them and ended the threat.
- The Mesoamerican and Central American Collections. These exhibits contain thousands of pieces of pottery, weapons, statues and textiles that highlight the rich and dramatic history of the Americas. One thing that stands out about these collections is the sheer size of many of the pieces; there’s a replica of an Aztec calendar stone on display that takes up an entire wall, and wood carvings that stand from floor to ceiling. Most of the items are in cases, but even through the glass you can see the detail in the works and the excellent care each piece receives.
- The Fossil Collections. The fossil collection at the Field Museum is nothing short of awe-inspiring. From dinosaurs to modern species, the fossil collection is one of the most impressive collections of the entire museum. The dinosaurs are the highlight of the fossil collection, with an entire room dedicated to the extinct predators and herbivores of yore. If you’ve never seen a dinosaur fossil up close, this is an experience that can’t be passed up.