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The Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute is one of the largest and most important art museums in the United States. The works range from modern photography to ancient Greek pottery, and the Institute is particulary strong in Impressionist and Japanese art. Be sure to set aside a few hours to browse--there are over 300,000 works of art spread across 250 galleries.
111 S Michigan Ave Tel 312.443.3535

The Field Museum of Natural History
The exhibits of the Field Museum are dedicated to nature's diversity and the different cultures of our planet; both human history and nature's history are well chronicled in the vast collection of artifacts and displays.  The "Christmas Around the World" display is an especially popular one around the holidays.
1400 S Lake Shore Drive Tel 312.922.9410

Museum of Contemporary Art
One of the largest modern art museums in North America, the Museum of Contemporary Art contains over 5,000 works in its revolving permanent collection along with several temporary and travelling exhibits. The collection includes contemporary (1945 - present) visual works in various mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography, video and film, and live performance. The popular cafe is a Wolfgang Puck creation.
220 E Chicago Ave Tel 312.280.2660

Museum of Science and Industry
Located in Hyde Park, the Museum of Science and Industry has exhibits covering topics as diverse as space travel and human anatomy.  Both young and old will enjoy the huge variety of permanent exhibits including the walkthrough human heart, the U-505 submarine, and the Omnimax theater.
5700 S Lake Shore Drive Tel 773.684.1414

Terra Museum of American Art
Known for its strength in American Impressionism, the Terra Museum of American Art features more than 700 works by important American artists.
664 N Michigan Ave Tel 312.664.3939