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Best Museum Tours In Chicago

August 18, 2014 7:00 AM

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

There’s nothing quite like exploring a museum with a guided tour. First-time visitors and those who are returning can benefit from a museum tour with a guide who can point out hidden treasures and offer additional information on a collection. With Chicago’s wealth of museums, it can be difficult to decide which guided tour to take, so use the following guide as a starting point.

Art Institute Of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 443-3600
http://www.artic.edu

Let’s say you only have one hour to spend at the Art Institute of Chicago. Deciding what to see and what to skip in the museum’s extensive collection can be a daunting task, but the Art Institute’s mini-tours can help. Available via the Art Institute’s website, the mini-tours focus on works within an assortment of themes, including “Bad Guys and Villains,” “The Echo Effect Visit” and “Making the Band.” The museum also has an app that includes tours. If you’d like a more traditional approach to a guided tour, then you’re in luck; the Art Institute offers gallery talks and tours almost every day. Check out its calendar for details on starting times and locations.

Cantigny Park
1S151 Winfield Road
Wheaton, IL 60189
(630) 668-5161
www.cantigny.org

Between its mansion and Tank Park, Cantigny Park has plenty of things for both nature lovers and history buffs to enjoy. The park offers plenty of tours geared to specific interests, including bird and garden walks, and tours of the McCormick Museum, as well as the First Division Museum. If you’d like to cover a bit more ground, then consider checking out the park’s Segway tours; for a fee, you can breeze through the gardens. Instead of a traditional guided tour, you can access the museum’s tour on your cell phone or smartphone, allowing you to set the pace and focus on certain aspects of the park.

Clarke House Museum
1827 S. Indiana Ave.
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 326-1480
www.glessnerhouse.org

For a look at what life was like in Chicago in the 19th century, consider taking a tour of Clarke House Museum, considered the city’s oldest house (although there are those who contend the Noble-Seymour-Crippen house in Chicago’s Norwood Park neighborhood should take that title). Located in Chicago’s Near Southside neighborhood, Clarke House Museum offers tours on a first-come, first-served basis, and reservations are not taken. Group tours of the house are available, but you should contact the museum at least four weeks in advance to make arrangements. You can also take a tour of Glessner House Museum, so you can gain appreciation and knowledge of Chicago’s history.

Related: Historic Walking Tour of Chicago

Newberry Library
60 W. Walton St.
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 943-9090
www.newberry.org

There are plenty of treasures to be found at the Newberry Library, so attending a free guided tour is a great way to explore the library’s vast collection. Held on Thursdays at 3 p.m. and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m., the library’s free tours are open to the public. You can also request a group tour of the library by calling in advance to make arrangements. The Newberry Library offers a world-renowned collection that encompasses many subjects, including maps, genealogy, local history, music and religion.

The Richard H. Driehuas Museum
40 E. Erie St.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 482-8933
www.driehausmuseum.org

There’s a good chance you’ve passed by The Richard H. Driehaus Museum without stopping in for a look. A fixture of Chicago’s Near Northside neighborhood, the museum is just two blocks west of the Magnificent Mile. The museum transports visitors to the city’s Gilded Age through its impressive collection of artwork and fixtures, including lamps and more created by Tiffany Studios. For an additional fee, a 60-minute tour is offered four times per day on a first-come, first-served basis and focuses on both the iconic Tiffany artwork and highlights and history of the museum. Self-guided tours are also available for visitors.

Related: How To Get Involved In Chicago’s Theater Community

Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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