You have to pay a hefty fee if you want to visit some of the renowned museums in Chicago city. However, entry to the following 10 museums is free and they range from peculiar to excellent and peculiarly excellent. Just find a nice and cheap hotel near downtown or Union Station and explore!
Smith Stained Glass Windows Museum
It is a permanent exhibition and is named after collectors Maureen Smith and E.B. The museum has more than 150 pieces of stained glass work belonging to four categories: Victorian, Modern, Prairie and Contemporary. You can see Victorian curlicues, Tiffany Jesuses and portraits of Michael Jordan, Ben Franklin, Sir Walter Scott, etc. The prominent artists that are represented include John LaFarge, Ed Paschke and AdolfasValeska.
International Surgical Science Museum
This museum housed in a Gold Coast mansion displays iron lungs, amputation saws and other early trade tools. The vaginal speculum used by the ancient Romans leaves a lasting impression in your mind, whereas the hemorrhoid surgery instruments remind you to eat fiber. The museum also has a life-size sculpture of Hippocrates. On Tuesdays, entry to the museum is free. On other days, you have to pay a fee of $15.
Busy Beaver Button Museum
In this museum, Busy Beaver, a badge-making company, chronicles its history, displaying thousands of their mementos. The displayranges from Cabbage Patch Kids to Big Rock Point Nuclear Plant and Dale Bozzio to Bozo the clown. You will find it extremely fascinating to browse through the displays.
Leather Archives Museum
The scholarly displays related to leather, S and M subcultures and fetish are packedin a repurposed synagogue. You can see the Red Spanking Bench and the Last Supper painting with Judas giving Christ the Finger in a Leather Bar. You can visit the museum on Thursdays for free between 3 pm and 7pm. On other days admission fee is $10.
This museum is located in a small gallery withinChicago Federal Reserve Bank. The displays provide a great deal of knowledge and you will get to as to whose picture is there on a $10,000 bill. When you leave the museum, you will be richer as the museum gives a bag of notes (shredded) to take home! Moreover, you can snap a photo holding the million-dollar briefcase and experience the ultimate money shot.
Vintage Arcade Museum – Logan Hardware
Logan Hardware, a used record store, sports a1980s arcade in a room at the back. You can flick through bins of LPs of funk, rock, and Chicago band and play them for free if you want.
The Newberry Library is for the bibliophiles. You can swoon over Thomas Paine’soriginal pamphlets related to the French Revolution, or go through the History of the Expedition under Captains Lewis and Clark in Thomas Jefferson’s copy. The exhibits includefirst edition manuscripts that have yellowed and become tattered.
The Oriental Museum consists of antiquities that the famed archaeologists of the University of Chicago unearthed from Nubia, Persia, Egypt and Mesopotamia. The star is King Tut; the statue is 17 feet tall and weighs six tons.
Chicago Sports Museum
A visit to Harry Caray’s Tavern on Navy Pier and checking out on the memorabilia-filled cases will tell you a great deal about the tortured sports psyche of Chicago. You get to see the last-out ball belonging to the 1945 World Series (when the Cubs were seen for the last time in the baseball championship), the corked bat of Sammy Sosa and the notoriousBartman ball. In addition, the museum enshrines relics for Bulls, Blackhawks, Da Bears and White Sox.
National Mexican Art Museum
This is a very special institution with docents who roam around and are always willing and ready to explain the paintingsmade out ofpigments mixed with bodily fluids. The largest Latino arts center of the nationhas loads ofpsychedelic op art canvases, skeleton-rich folk art, and groovy beadwork.