Midwest Living Review
The Chicago History Museum is a lot more contemporary than its name implies. Spend half a day in the recently renovated parkside museum loaded with ah-ha!, making-the-connection moments between Chicago's history and today. Exhibits displaying more than 22 million artifacts explore how the American identity has continually been shaped by Chicago's experiences. Permanent exhibit "Crossroads of America" grounds visitors in all things Chicago, including its innovative skyscraper architecture and toy manufacturer, its blues music heritage and rabid sports team loyalties (free docent-led exhibit tours daily). "Lincoln's Chicago" traces the 16th president's strong ties to the city during his presidency. Loved by generations of Chicagoans, the 75-year old "Imagining Chicago" dioramas capture historic events (some with moving parts) including the Great Chicago Fire and 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Harboring one of the nation's largest costume collections, the museum's "Charles James: Genius Deconstructed" (through April 16, 2012) displays 15 timeless fashions by the iconic haute couture designer. "Out in Chicago" (through March 26, 2012) tells 150 years of urban LGBT social, cultural and political history through stories of past and contemporary Chicagoans active in the vibrant community. Admission charged; Mondays are free.